Email Marketing Explained
Every successful internet marketing expert will tell you that the first thing you should do is start collecting email addresses from your visitors. It doesn’t matter what you are trying to market, most people won’t buy on the first visit. You will need to remind them of reasons why they should purchase from you or follow your recommendation. This is where email marketing is used.
Marketing a gambling portal by email involves keeping your visitors up to date about new casinos, current bonuses, tournaments and any other offers that may interest them. Just why is email marketing successful?
- list members have elected to receive your emails and hence are a targeted audience,
- it is relatively inexpensive,
- keeps your website, or program you are marketing, in your visitors’ minds,
- depending on the content, it is time effective. Some affiliate programs regularly create mailers for their affiliates to use with the correct links already included.
Dos and don’ts of email marketing
First and foremost, don’t send spam. Make sure the recipients have elected to receive your emails. This is known as an opt-in list. You must do this for two reasons.
- it is polite, good business sense and maybe illegal to send spam in some areas,
- most affiliate programs will disqualify affiliates who send spam and you unpaid earnings will be forfeited.
Many people are now moving to the double opt-in standard. With this, when you sign up you will automatically be sent an email (to the address entered) asking you to confirm the subscription by clicking on a link. This stops people from signing up others to lists unless they have access to their email to confirm the subscription. As two actions are required, the subscription rates are lower but the list is of much higher quality.
Always include a link or method to opt-out. Ideally this should be at the end of the email, so they will at least have to scroll through the email first! Make sure you honour all requests to be removed. It is also a good idea to put a notice at the top advising members that they subscribed to the email on your site.
Don’t send too many emails as it will dilute their effect. Make sure you have something worthwhile to say. Always think of the benefits from the reader’s point of view.
If you are sending HTML format emails then go easy with the images. Not everyone has a high speed connection and often they delete the email before it has fully loaded.
Sending emails to your opt-in list
There are three basic ways to send emails to your list:
- with your normal email client,
- using an off the shelf package,
- using an online service provider.
The simplest, but probably most time consuming to maintain is to just collect the email addresses using a simple script, of which there are plenty for free. Go to the Affiliate Resources page and look at the scripts section. You then set up an address list in your Outlook (or similar) and send to this list as you would any other email. Best to send to yourself and BCC the others so you don’t run the risk of everyone seeing all the addresses in your list. This method is fine when you are first starting out, but you will soon become tired of manually adding and removing email addresses.
The second option is an off the shelf package that you either purchase or is provided free under a GPL licence. Make sure you can integrate it into your site so the collection and maintenance can be done automatically by the members. You should only go down this route if you are confident you can install it yourself, or the supplier offers to help with installations. Some of these also require your hosting account to have certain features such as your own cgi-bin, php, mySQL and others.
The third method is to use an online service. These are worthwhile because they are easy to integrate into your site, they have templates available if you wish and the instructions make it easy for novices to complete. You don’t require a high level of technical knowledge like the previous method. Some things to look for in a service are a guarantee that your data will not be sold, it is stored securely and if you are looking to transfer a list then the ability to import the data from other applications or as a text file. A couple of top rated providers are Vertical Response and Constant Contact. These two differ in pricing structures, so read on.
One advantage of these is the ability to easily track things like emails opened and click through rates so you can ensure the clicks are being recorded correctly in your affiliate program statistics.
What can you expect to pay?
Virtually nothing for the first option, because you already have the ability to send emails and the scripts to collect the addresses are free. However, unless you can’t afford it or have a good technical knowledge and can play around with scripts yourself, this method is not recommended.
Acquiring an off the shelf package will cost anything up to a couple of hundred dollars depending on the features. Those issued with a GPL licence will be free, however you need some technical knowledge to get them working and after searching for well over twelve months’ we’re yet to find one that has everything required. In some cases it is a get what you pay for situation so do some research or get some recommendations.
Cost is one of the main differences when it comes to the online providers. Vertical Response charges based on the number of email recipients. In effect you buy email credits and the higher the volume the cheaper they are on a per recipient basis. There is no expiry date so I suggest you consider your list size, expected growth and number of mailings per year and then purchase based on an annual figure. This will ensure you purchase at an economical rate. This service is good if you plan to send out say a regular monthly mailing plus a few one off special ones. They offer a trial basis so sign up and test it out at here.
Constant Contact works on a monthly subscription which is based on the number of members in your list. You can send out as many as you wish each month with this service. They also have a free trial. This service is better if you plan to send out more frequent mailings. There is no contract period so you can sign up and if you are not happy (which I doubt it!) you can move on. To find out more information click here.
The power of email marketing can’t be understated. It should be the first item in your marketing plan, and even before that if you integrate the sign up form into your website design. If you want a recommendation then it would be to go with either Vertical Response or Constant Contact. They administer all the fiddly bits for a reasonable cost that is usually recovered from just one or two sign ups or sales. Finally, don’t forget to include a link to your sign up page in a prominent position on each page.