Email Marketing

Man smiling as he checks he email

Email marketing refers to the commercial use of electronic mail by organizations to advertise, solicit sales, and build brand awareness. Organizations often use email marketing to reach out to new customers through the use of ‘cold lists,’ but may also send emails to past customers or clients, in an effort to solicit repeat business and encourage customer loyalty. Email marketing is one of the most effective online advertising strategies used by organizations today.


Broadly speaking, there are two primary types of marketing emails that organizations send to clients or customers. Transactional emails are normally triggered by customer interaction with the company or its website. Purchase or order confirmation emails are amongst the most common transactional emails companies use, and because they convey important information, customers are far more likely to open them than an unsolicited promotional email. Because of this high open rate, transactional emails are excellent vehicles for targeted marketing, cross-selling, and up-selling. Many companies include promotional content in their transactional emails for this reason. In contrast to transactional emails, many organizations may also engage in direct email campaigns, often unsolicited, which attempt to communicate promotional content or special offers to a wider audience, including potential new customers.


Compared to traditional/physical advertising mail, email marketing campaigns have several benefits, but also some drawbacks. Most significantly, email marketing campaigns are far cheaper than traditional mailing campaigns, especially given the cost of paper, postage, addressing, and mailing. Furthermore, carefully executed campaigns can provide valuable data about the effectiveness of the campaign, through highly accurate conversion statistics. The data yielded through customer interaction can also allow marketers to design tailored communications, targeted at users based on their past purchases. In addition to this, most internet users check their email account(s) every day, allowing marketers to reach a high number of potential customers. However, there can be drawbacks for legitimate marketers, and these drawbacks are often related to the activities of illegitimate marketers. Many email services use automatic spam filters which may prevent the delivery of legitimate marketing emails. Furthermore, many jurisdictions have rigorous anti-spam legislation in place, and marketers may run afoul of these laws, depending on the nature of the email marketing campaign.


In addition to transactional and direct email campaigns, marketers have developed another form of campaign: the opt-in marketing campaign. Essentially, the recipient has indicated to the company that they wish to receive periodic emails or newsletters from the company, informing them of special offers, new products, or other forms of advertisement. Many companies offer their clientele the opportunity to opt-in through their website, through in-store promotions, or as a point-of-purchase option. By tracking the purchases of customers, or by tracking the items they have shown interest in on a website, a company can group customers into segments or categories, and send more specifically targeted emails to each group, according to their interests. As the customer has opted-in to this service, it ideally means the customer has a stronger interest in the company or its products than the recipient of an unsolicited email may have. Furthermore, opt-in campaigns often have fewer legal hurdles to overcome than direct, unsolicited campaigns, which may be prohibited in some jurisdictions.