Email broadcasts should only be used for obtaining new customers when the targeting has been carefully thought through.
It can work but needs careful consideration. See British Snowboarding Championships Case Study.
Rule No1 for emails is to avoid being seen as a spammer. It can get you blacklisted, and cause all sorts of problems with Data Protection. See Data Protection Link.
Email is however very cost effective and where you are keeping customers informed of areas of known interest they can be very useful for:-
Maintaining the dialogue
Keeping your brand front of mind
Driving traffic into your web site
Associated cross selling opportunities
Identifying new or monitoring existing areas of interest (Needs Analysis)
Plain Text vs HTML emails
Plain Text emails have three main advantages, in that they are:-
Easy to set up, as there is no creative work required. (Poor creative HTML emails undermine your brand.)
Less likely to be filtered out by SPAM filters as they contain no tracking devices (Matt Help)
More likely to be opened in overseas countries where bandwidth is a problem. (Size of the File)
HyperText Markup Language, to give HTML its full name, has the following benefits, in that you can:-
Express yourself creatively
Track which links have been clicked on
Monitor which web pages an individual has visited
Automatically update your underlying database with customer areas of interest
Embed questionnaires into your web site and obtain further and more detailed customers needs data.
In summary you can find out more about a customers areas of interest whilst they are at the suspect stage of the Loyalty Ladder (Link to Loyalty Ladder).
This, subject to how you want to define your database, could convert them into a prospect, on the basis that you have identified an area of interest. It is not as firm as a response to a mailing, which we would define as a clear prospect.
In data terms the challenge is to keep it simple whilst not losing any useful data. A useful approach is to consider the outputs you will want from your data reporting function, and group data accordingly.
This will vary from business to business.
Remember, your IT guys can always do some data mining for you, if you need more detail.
We sent out about a million emails to residents of London Boroughs and got a 0.1% response
What was clear was that Londoners top three areas of concern were and still are, Transport, Transport, and Transport.
The election was actually very close, and Steve Norris lost by a small margin. As an Ex Transport Minister he may well have won if he had been able to communicate his transport expertise more effectively.