A recommendation to collect email addresses will admittedly sound strange. Marketers inundate individuals with emails, most of which are unwanted by the recipient. Understandably, business don’t want to expend time and money to give people what they don’t want. Yet despite the overwhelming amount of unsolicited emails, email marketing still proves itself to be an effective tool to reach customers and clients. Using email in an ethical, relationship-oriented manner can bring benefits to both you and your customer.

Email should be an avenue by which businesses facilitate relationships with customers. You should only email customers with information or products that are relevant or helpful to specific customers. While no formal rules on how often email should be sent exist, it should be sent often enough to keep you in customer’s minds, while not so often that they will be annoyed. It cannot be emphasized enough that email should be a tool for relationship building. A good rule of thumb in this instance is the 80-20 rule, meaning 80% should be informational and 20% can be related to the company’s product or service offerings.

While the benefits can be substantial to both owner and customer, all business owners should be aware of the perils of email marketing. The first of which is alienating your customer base. Securing permission to email a customer should not be taken as a license to bombard people with unwanted emails several times per day in hopes of gaining sales. Businesses who do this will find customers unsubscribing, blocking, or worse, reporting your company for sending spam. Secondly, permission to send email is critical, both from a customer relations standpoint and now, a legal standpoint. Like with telephone numbers, businesses cannot contact people via email without being granted explicit permission from customers. Companies who spam customers with large volumes of unwanted email can be subjected to substantial fines. Many ways exist to secure these emails. Website forms, contests, rewards programs, or simply asking the customer are among the ways in which business owners get these addresses.

To manage these issues, business owners can subscribe to an email marketing platform such as AWeber. Although AWeber is the platform usually recommended by most in the industry, owners that are on a budget can also choose an alternative platform called MailChimp. MailChimp allows business with under 2,000 emails to manage email lists free of charge, albeit with fewer benefits than are offered by AWeber. Both platforms will work to ensure that customers who give you their email have done so with their permission. They will also manage customers who unsubscribe from the email list upon request. Best of all, these platforms will facilitate market segmentation, and you can email to your customers more personalized emails tailored to their characteristics and preferences.

By understanding customers and communicating with them in a way that helps and respects them, email marketing can be used for mutual benefit. Note, this blog is merely an overview of the benefits. More in-depth knowledge of collecting, managing and applying email marketing should be understood or hired out before taking on this task. However, when applied correctly, email marketing can help your customers and in the end, help your business immensely.

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