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We asked Tamara Gielen the most obvious questions first: what does email marketing mean for her? “The sending of commercial and informative messages via email to current or future clients is a cheap, direct and thus very efficient way to get in touch with them,” she explains. “But email marketing is much more than sending out a weekly or monthly newsletter. Good and efficient email marketing is done by first getting to you know your target audience and by following and understanding their behaviour. Based on this information, you can adapt your messages to the individual interests of the target group. If someone is interested in a certain type of product, then follow up on that interest by sending a specific, targeted message. If a person signs up for your newsletter, he’ll get a welcome mail urging him to take the next step… That, for me, is the power of email marketing.”
If you want a truly succesful email campaign, you need the email addresses of your (potential) customers. So how do you get those?
“You need a web site,” says Gielen. “The rule is: no one should leave your web site without leaving behind their email address. In exchange, you offer them relevant content. If a reader wants to download something or claim a promotion on the web site, they can do that, but only if they enter their email address. Aside from that, you shouln’t really let any contact between you and the customer go by without giving them the opportunity to subscribe to your newsletter. But the same rule applies here: offer something of value in exchange for the email address. That can be a promotion, a discount, or simply some useful and interesting content.”
So you have the customer’s email address. What’s next?
“Try to find out what interests your customer has and make sure to get the right content or message at the right time. What do they want? And when is the best opportunity to offer it to them? That is the real challenge of good email marketing. To do real one-to-one communication, you must have your customer data straightened out. The success of email marketing hinges on the quality of the mailing lists you will be using. Contrary to what many belief, the look and layout of your email is often the easiest aspect of email marketing. An email sent to the right person at exactly the right moment doesn’t necessarily have to look sexy to be successful. “
This doesn’t mean you can send any old message or mail. “Take into account that many people nowadays read their emails on a smartphone, when stuck in traffic, for example. What they are often doing is ‘cleaning’ their mailbox. And which mails they actually read often depends on who sent it. So you really only have a split second to get noticed. If you managed to get the customer’s attention in the past, then chances are that your newest email will also be read. Also consider that the main goal of the email is to draw customers to your web site or web shop. So you need to give them a good reason to do so and to get them interested in the product or services you are selling. As a results, it’s not really of any use to put a lot of specifications and details in your mail. You can do all of that on your web site. You have to enable readers to scan your mail very quickly and you have to be very clear from the start what the offer is about and what the customer’s next step should be: a clear title, the benefits of the offer and a very noticeable button or link to your landing page are essential.”
The timing of your email is a very important factor in its success, says Gielen. “Suppose you want to email a plumber or hairdresser… They are usually at work all day, and chances are that they won’t see their mails until the evening, or even the weekend. So make sure to send your email at those times. And you can come up with the ideal timings for any target group. Or better still: you can test at what exact time of day or week your customers are most responsive. There is this enduring myth that Tuesdays and Thursdays are best for emails. But if everyone mails on those days, chances are you get noticed if you plan your campaign on other days.”