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email marketing is one of the most effective direct marketing tools available

Email  has been proven to be one of today’s most cost efficient  tools available. Email  is the #1 choice for marketers as a way to develop and maintain relationships with customers and potential customers.

6 Essential Benefits of email Marketing

Email marketing often gets forgotten and lost behind all the talk of social media, SEO and reputation management. But email marketing for businesses is more important than ever.

Email is thriving especially as more consumers connect to email 24/7 through smartphones and tablets. It’s not uncommon for consumers to check emails dozens of times per day (I’ve checked it twice since writing this paragraph). So, as a business owner or marketer it’s important to be where your consumers are, and email needs to be one of them.

After reading about the six benefits of email marketing, this dynamic marketing technique will be sure to move to the front of the line when it comes time to decide where to put your marketing dollars.

1: Segment your list and target your customers
As a business owner or marketer, I am sure you’ve heard of target marketing. In a nutshell, not all segments of your customer base want the same thing. If you’re a local retailer that sells men’s and women’s clothes it probably doesn’t make sense to promote dresses to male customers. Or it may not make sense for a business with multiple locations to market a weekend special at its west side store to its east side customers. This problem can be solved with email marketing

One of the benefits of email marketing is that it allows you to segment your list based on any demographic, interest or behavioral data you may have collected on your customers. Most email service providers these days allow you to easily segment your subscriber list so that you can send updates on new dresses to your female customers or weekend specials to your west side customers only.

2: Learn what your customers want
A second benefit of email marketing is that it can help understand what types of content, products or services customers want. Let’s return to our example of the local retailer marketing to women. If the retailer sends an email to its female subscribers about a new dress and shoe line and finds that the link to the shoes received no clicks but the link to the dresses received all the clicks, it’s fair to say the customers are interested in dresses.

This can not only help the local retailer with its email marketing efforts by suggesting to the business to only send its female subscribers information on dresses, but it may also help the retailer make purchasing decisions next season when it is stocking its store with new clothes. That is quite a powerful tool.

3: Stay top of mind
Many business owners or marketers worry about overwhelming email subscribers. The reality is, consumers have opted-in for your email. They have given you permission to market to them. Don’t miss this valuable opportunity to follow through and provide what they asked for.

Even if they are not in the market for your product at the time they receive the email, your company’s brand or product is going to stay top of mind so that when they are in the market to buy they think of you first.

On the other end of the spectrum are those business owners or marketers who let their subscriber lists go inactive. This is the worst thing you can do. This is only going to lead to unengaged subscribers who will eventually drop from your list and potentially as a customer. Don’t let this happen and stay top of mind by using the most of your email marketing.

4: Drive sales
Whether you sell products online or products and services in an actual store, email is great at driving sales. According to ExactTarget, 50% of online users bought something as a result of an email which is higher than any other marketing channel. To me, that is one of the most important benefits of email marketing for a business since the ultimate goal is sales. By having immediate access to customers through email a business can advertise sales and promotions or highlight a new product line. If the email is crafted correctly, these timely marketing emails will drive customers to your website or store and eventually lead to sales.

5: Build loyalty
Converting leads into customers is an important step in the customer lifecycle. But it is not the end. Turning a first time buyer into a lifetime customer is a crucial step all businesses must achieve. But more often than not, businesses become too focused on acquiring new customers and forget about its current ones. Building loyalty requires time and a willingness to invest. One of the most effective ways marketers can build loyalty is through email marketing.

As an example, once a customer purchases something from you, email can be used to send them a thank you for their purchase. Later, your business can use email to send your customer information on how he can get the most out of the product he just purchased. Or you could use email to send him a coupon on his birthday or anniversary. And lastly, you can use email to remind your now loyal customer to purchase from you again.

Building loyalty doesn’t happen overnight but by using email marketing business owners and marketers can feel confident in reaching this goal.

6: Metrics, metrics, and more metrics
One of the benefits of email marketing that often gets overlooked is that so much can be measured. As a business owner or marketer, justifying your investment in a marketing channel is indispensable. And knowing the outcomes of your marketing is the first step in this process. Email marketing allows you to see those outcomes and compare it against your investment.

Email marketing metrics go beyond metrics such as open rates and click throughs (which are still very important). But processes can be put in place that help a local business track how well an email worked.

For example, if a local restaurant sends a $5 off coupon through email, the business can collect all the coupons that are redeemed at the store, aggregate the total sales that the coupons brought in and compare the sales to the investment in the email and the coupons. If the investment is higher than the sales, it may be time to try something new. However, if the reverse is true, continuing to use email marketing only makes sense.

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Does email marketing work? A total of 91% of consumers check their email daily with the average of 221 times per day. Moreover, 66% of consumers have made a purchase as a result of an email marketing message.

The average return on an email marketing investment is $44.25 for every dollar spent.