Emails can be an affordable and efficient marketing tool but be careful not to abuse it.
Sending emails and/or newsletters is a key marketing tool for an SME. However, the entrepreneur must be careful not to abuse it. Even the most loyal customer consider an email a spam. And sometimes, it is simply illegal.
In 2022, around 330 billion emails were sent and received every day worldwide. According to a recent study by Constant Contact, this number is expected to rise to more than 376 billion emails exchanged daily in the next four years.
This raises the question: how can you be efficient and stand out from this mass of information?
Source: Constant Contact Inc. (2023). Email Marketing Statistics: Facts & Figures. www.constantcontact.com/blog/email-marketing-research-and-statistics
Who should an email be sent to?
To avoid upsetting poorly targeted individuals, the idea is to restrict the sending of emails to the following individuals:
- Any person who has provided the company with his or her email address.
- Friends, colleagues, suppliers, existing customers or individuals who have requested for additional information on services offered by the SME.
- Individuals suggested by an association or other group such as a chamber of commerce.
The SME must strictly protect its customers’ email addresses. When sending a group email, the email addresses of other recipients must be hidden.
We can distinguish the following types of emails:
- The promotional email: It aims at encouraging an existing customer to buy a new product or service in the company.
- The loyalty email: It helps ensure that an existing customer continues to be interested in the company.
- The transactional email: This is an email sent during a transaction (for example the confirmation of an order). This type of email can also be used to encourage the customer to buy additional products or services.
- The behavior tracking email: This is an email generated during a user’s action, such as activating a link. The target then becomes a prospect.
The effective email – general recommendations
A question seems to emerge to assess whether the practice is good: What is the opening rate of the e-mailing campaign?
In general, experts agree that the rate should be between 15 and 25%. As rates may vary from one sector to another, it is important to know them.
To be read, an email should abide by the following rules:
- The sender must be a real person and not an address such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The subject of the email must be short. It must be between five to seven words.
- The subject must not include signs such as $ or ! or the email may be blocked by anti-spam filters.
- The message must be simple and easy to read. An offer must be summarized in a maximum of 10 lines. The text must be structured in paragraphs or bullet points.
- It is best not to include images as they may not always be downloaded by smartphones.
- An email must be signed. The name, phone number and email address of the sender must be indicated at the bottom of the message in case the customer wishes to obtain additional information on the offer or the SME.
- It should be possible to share the message online. This will enable the customer to forward the email to a friend or publish it on a social network such as Facebook or Twitter.
- Emails should not be sent too frequently, otherwise customers might think that the SME’s offers are not credible. However, there is no ideal frequency for sending emails. Experiment and analyze how your customers react (unsubscribe, complaints…).
As a reminder, before setting up an e-mailing campaign, it is crucial to understand your audience and work on personalized content that ensures an increase of 14% in click rate and 26% in opening rate.
The effective email – recommendations per type of email
- Make it clear that the offer is reserved to customers. The latter will feel privileged.
- Promote ‘Flash sales’ that are limited in time. It seems that these are the most effective.
- Provide sufficient information on the product or service promoted to encourage purchase.
- Contact the customer at specific moments (birthday, first purchase anniversary) as a reminder of this particular link between him/her and the company.
- Perform personalized reminders such as ‘It’s been a while since we have heard from/seen you’ or a reminder of accumulated loyalty points.
- Take care of the presentation and quality of the content.
- Favor short formats with a very clear message (opening and click rate eight times higher than other emails).
Behavior tracking email:
- Use a message strategy and more specifically a strategy of offer linked to the particular profile of a prospect.
- For this type of contact, it is advised to use a mailing platform which will automate the process. The system, however, must be properly set up so that it delivers a coherent and targeted message.
It should be noted that in the digital world, the email is forty times more effective than social media when seeking new customers.
An SME can also send out newsletters that provide regular information on the company. Affordable, newsletters are sent to loyal customers who have expressly requested to receive such information. When designing a newsletter, a few rules should be followed:
- Always keep the same design and format. The customer must get used to the newsletter and quickly find the information that interest him/her.
- Maintain some regularity. In any case, if you commit to regular mailing, it is necessary to stick to it (it is a question of credibility).
- Write a series of short texts. This makes it easier to read online. Contents that are too long keep the reader from acting (visit the site, make an order, contact…)
- Provide interesting information about the company. There is no point in embellishing, it will scare the customer away.
- Highlight your logo and your phone number. The postal address, e-mail address and website are details that encourage the customer to contact the SME.
- Give the recipient the option to unsubscribe at any time. He/she will not feel harassed and he/she has the right to change his/her mind.
- The company’s website should be visible on the newsletter. This makes it possible to direct the customer to more content. It is also an opportunity to increase traffic on the company’s website.
Spams or genuine emails?
In addition to annoying consumers, spams are banned in Switzerland since April 1, 2007. An advertising email falls in this category when:
- It is sent to recipients who did not expressly agree to receive such messages.
- The sender of the advertisement is not clearly identifiable, or its address is not indicated.
- Recipients do not have the easy and free option to refuse to receive more messages. The sender must clearly inform them of this option.
Sources: Small Business Marketing Kit For Dummies, Barbara Findlay Schenck, John Wiley & Sons Inc, 2012;
Vendez grâce à l'e-mailing - L'e-mail marketing pour les PME, Pierre Cat, Edipro, 2016;
Julien Intartaglia, professeur de Publicité et Marketing au sein de la Haute Ecole de Gestion Arc Neuchâtel (validation de la page en février 2019)