With the development of and rapid growth in online commerce – both business-to-consumer and business-to-business – email marketing has become one of the main methods for businesses to communicate to their potential, previous or actual customers. But the road to where email marketing is today has not been a smooth one. The phenomena of bulk spam and the response from users in terms of blocking out emails with filters and blocking programmes has led to an evolution in the methods used for email marketing and in the quality of the marketing undertaken.

Generally email marketing involves sending an email that is containing advertisements, requesting business, or soliciting sales or donations. The direct effect is clearly to gain sales but underlying this is an intention to build brand awareness, trust, and loyalty.  There are different types of marketing email:

  • Direct email. This is generally what most consumers would visualise when hearing ‘email marketing’ as a term – the email that contains information about the latest offer, discount, sale, or promotional effort of a company.
  • Transactional email. These emails are ones that are sent in response to triggers that are based on a consumer’s interaction with a company, notably sales. Indeed, the main U.S. Government definition of a transactional email is one that is used “to facilitate, complete, or confirm a commercial transaction that the recipient has previously agreed to enter into with the sender.” Examples of such transaction emails can include a follow up email (to sales or queries), an order confirmation email, an abandoned cart email, and so on. Many of these emails can be sent through the use of marketing automation.
  • Mobile email marketing. A comparatively new development, this focuses on delivering localised content that is of interest to the consumer.

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The impact of email marketing – when effectively targeted and corrected used – can be considerable. Transactional emails, for example, have a much higher open rate than that of general email newsletters (51.3% compared to 36.6%, according to one item of research). This offers businesses an excellent opportunity for further marketing at the same time as undertaking the primary purpose of the email communication.

Compared to traditional forms of marketing (such as physically printed brochures and advertising mail), email marketing has several major advantages. Initially the most obvious ones are much lower costs and higher speed of delivery, as well as a much wider geographical reach to customers. But email marketing has much greater advantages than just this, given that it can be tailored to a much higher degree than traditional marketing material usually is and thus generate a much improved return on investment and higher impact.

The ability to automate emails is also a major benefit. Without the need for direct human interaction from the company (after trigger points and processes have been set), a major element of marketing can be conducted without the need for any additional effort on the part of the company and its employees, making marketing considerably more efficient. As transactional emails that are generated by eCommerce platforms, such as Magento, can be set up to respond to highly specific customer behaviours, there is the possibility to use them in a highly directed manner. One example of this is the abandoned cart email or dropped basket email, where the consumer leaves the website before an order has been completed. Engaging with the consumer directly at this point, when an order is just one step from completion and the consumer has already gone through most of the process of choosing a product to buy, can be a successful way of ensuring that the sale is completed. Email marketing automation makes this possible in a way that traditional marketing would not be able to do.

In terms of analysing the impact of marketing, the ability of a company to conduct analytics on responses to emails and track routes into its website make determining the impact of a particular campaign much easier than through traditional mail (with its “please mention this leaflet when placing an order” blurbs!) Tracking this analysis through a system, such as Magento Analytics, enables a company to swiftly assess the impact of particular aspects of marketing, for example different graphics or messages, especially when combined with the ability to target email marketing at targeted customer segments.

This is not the say that email marketing is a panacea for companies in terms of getting more sales and customers. As with any tool, it needs to be used in the correct way, with messages targeted and sent at the correct points to have the greatest impact. Magento Email Marketing offers the chance for companies to do this in a highly cost-effective and tailorable manner.