News flash: The word on the street is that the Internet may not be the best place for businesses to spend their marketing dollars to obtain new customers. Online ads and click-through buttons have yet to win over customers, and companies that have put their advertising eggs in the online basket have done so at their own peril.
Companies that have tried to brand themselves via the Internet have found that tracking results and targeting potential consumers have been difficult — and Internet branding doesn’t immediately bring revenue. Some companies have tried to mimic the success they have experienced with television advertising, which can reach broad but targeted markets. The Internet, however, is being used by consumers who want specific information or are trying to complete a specific task, so they are not swayed by advertising that is not as focused as a TV spot. In fact, most see it as an annoyance.
The Internet now allows users to customize information flow according to their every whim — from news to entertainment to the information they receive from businesses. This is why businesses must understand that the Internet is especially geared for customer retention — not acquisition. By taking the database that companies already own and manage — that is, opt-in/permission-based lists — businesses have an opportunity to upsell to their existing customers, an easier and more cost-effective process than obtaining a new customer.
This is where effectively using email marketing comes into play. Internet communications provide an excellent opportunity for companies to educate consumers who already know about your business and products. Some companies are already using email as a customer relationship management tool, sending newsletters and corporate updates on a regular basis. While this builds relationships, they may be missing opportunities to expand revenue from current customers.
The true potential of email marketing lies in targeting specific products and services to your existing customer base, consumers who already know your company and, hopefully, know the value of your products and services. Each email delivered to your customer base should be treated as an opportunity to inform customers about promotions, specials, or new products — and increase your revenue. You already have their loyalty, and this certainly makes them receptive to your message.
Some argue that email does not allow the look and feel, or immediacy, that TV commercials can convey. However, e-marketing services allow businesses to deliver emails with pictures of the products they are selling or even animated messages, with video and sound tracks. Additionally, to make the sale even easier, consumers can purchase the product or obtain more information simply by clicking on the photo. This enables minimal effort by the buyer and, with trackable links, provides the seller with valuable customer information, such as purchasing behavior.
With far more flexibility than is available for advertising, email marketing can allow a business to customize each and every message, if so desired. Some companies are getting even savvier by sending out a series of emails as test messages to target-specific audiences and then distributing the one that generates the best responses to a larger list. Because it’s all done via the Internet and email, companies can send out their test email, obtain the results, and fire off the email to a larger audience, all within 24 hours.
Additionally, email marketing campaigns are quantifiable. By placing links in the email, companies can know exactly how many people linked to a product, requested information, or purchased, all as a result of the email campaign. This valuable data enables businesses to develop more targeted and effective campaigns in addition to substantiating budget allocations.
Targeting your existing customer base is a great way to build your company’s Web presence as well. Some well-established brands are using permission-based emails to drive loyalty and reward programs by encouraging consumers to buy more product. At the same time, it’s an excellent opportunity to make your current customer base aware of other value-added services your company provides, such as expert advice, community chat rooms, or free samples.
Although it is clear that e-advertising is not going away, more and more companies have decided to place less importance on banners and more on e-marketing. For broad-reach and widespread-branding efforts, traditional advertising methods may work better for customer acquisition. If you want to sell more product quickly and efficiently, look at creating an opt-in email list for your existing customer base and begin marketing new products and services to them. It may give you the competitive edge you need.