I don’t like to be the one who says there’s no Santa Claus but there’s a popular misconception that email marketing is a great tool for new customer acquisition. It’s not. It’s not entirely untrue but the point is that email works best when it’s part of a wider digital strategy that addresses each aspect of acquisition, nurturing and retention – I like the term ‘the digital cocktail.’
By definition, permission based email marketing is based on the scenario that subscribers are already known to you. They’ve already opted in to receive your communications, so in that sense they are already acquired. However there’s still a long journey from opting in as a new subscriber to becoming a first-time purchaser, and even more so to becoming a loyal, returning customer and brand advocate. Ultimately this is your goal, and taking your subscribers on this engagement journey is where email marketing really becomes effective.
There are lots of good reasons why engaged subscribers are good for business. Acquisition costs are generally higher than those for retention so keeping close to your hard won contacts makes good business sense. Many organisations also look not just at the initial sale but at the lifelong potential of a customer. Loyalty is a hugely powerful buying factor with regular customers often accounting for the lion’s share of company profits. Returning customers spend more on each visit and are typically less price and competition sensitive so they’re perfect up and cross sell targets. Perhaps most importantly, studies indicate that over 80% of them are likely to refer – they are your brand advocates and that’s still one of the best forms of marketing you can get.
For best effect combine your email marketing with more acquisition targeted online activities like PPC, SEO, advertising and PR. Although you don’t have the 1-1 customer relationship with any of these – there’s always an intermediary or moderator – your reach is potentially much wider than via your direct email connections. Ultimately you should be looking to move your outreach connections into direct (email) subscribers. Use your acquisition channels to drive interest to your website and other subscription points making clear why they should sign up. Show the value and set the expectations, and of course make it incredibly easy to do so. It’s then you can start using your email campaigns to develop and progress their interest.