One thing I love about digital marketing is the track-ability. You can get as in depth with your analysis as time and resources will allow you. Sometimes I will create certain little campaigns and tests just to watch the power of the tools that are at all of our disposal at all times for very little investment. I tinker. Most of Googles tools are free, easy to implement and when used in conjunction, they are incredibly powerful. But Google is not the only provider of tools with value. And the tools that they are not YET making available are HTML Email Marketing Campaign Tools.
When we used to create web marketing campaigns, we would decide what we were promoting, make a dedicated webpage or pages for the the product, and then we would post that url all over the world, digitally, in print and wherever we could put the www info. Then, we would wait a week and go to our reports and say, 5,000 times that page got hit. A rough idea of traffic was our gauge to our success. We would look at our investment, see what sort of buzz it generated, then hope it translated to the stores. And while that is still in practice, there are so much more sophisticated ways of getting a message out there and seeing what is working and what isn’t. Enter HTML Emails.
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HTML emails are so typical nowadays that people don’t seem to understand just how powerful they are. See, an HTML email is an email that downloads images from a server. The benefit to HTML emails are, for starters, they are pretty. Who doesn’t like pretty? But as a marketer, they are pretty and more importantly, powerful. Extremely powerful. See, by downloading the pretty picture in the email (you did click “always show pictures from this sender” right), you just created an action measurable by the senders server. If the sender sent out 100 emails with one image in it, and he sees that image got downloaded 75 times. He can safely assume that email was viewed 75 times. Now, that is pretty interesting right. A 75% read rate. But I know what you’re thinking, what if I read the same email 70 times. While on certain systems, this may cause a statistical problem. But HTML email services take this download tracking a step further.
If I sent out an email to 100 people with an image located at www.atdny.com/prettypic.jpg, this can cause the problem of multiple downloads by the same person. And this definitely can skew my reporting. I could make 100 images, and use on in each email and this would give me a little bit more detailed info, right? If I sent out an email to 100 people, and had the main image named //prettypic.jpg, then prettypic2.jpg, then prettypic3.jpg this would give me some accountability. I sent an email to clientxyz an email with the image prettypic65.jpg and I see that image was downloaded. I can assume, the client did read the email. This is similiar to how email marketing services work.
So, when you send that same email out to 100 people, you specify the main image, and the service creates dynamic links that serve the image and track who it was that viewed it. You also now know when they viewed it, as the server knows when the image was downloaded. So how do you take this tracking and utilize it. It should be painfully obvious to any marketer by now.
Manufacturers and suppliers can use these emails to see who of their clientele is interested in what of their products. Here is a great example by The Home Depot. If you clicked the link, you will see a nice newsletter The Home Depot sent out. Now keep in mind, html emails track not only images, but also links dynamically. So in the email you see a bunch of offers very nicely mixed in with helpful hints. Lets say you decide to click on the build a fence video. You’re not interested in the “sales” they are offering, but you are curious the steps it takes to build a fence. Well, by making that click, The Home Depot now sees you as a potential opportunity to sell outdoor upgrade products. Decking, Fencing, general outdoor diy materials. So guess what their next email to you may be tailored towards….”Hey Jim, Check out these great deals on fence supplies, decking supplies, hammers, screws, nails, etc. We can help you get that summer project done, today”.
Now, The Home Depot has a huge selection of merchandise. I subscribe to their emails just to see how finite their marketing department is. You see, I will click on something just to see how well they follow up on me. I am a working on a bathroom remodel, so when I started the project I received an email about a vanity that was on sale. I clicked on the link, took a look at their stock, and went about my day. No purchase made. But I gave them a tidbit of info, I am interested in bathroom vanities. Who, you might ask, would be interested in new bath vanities? Why, someone working on a new bathroom reno, right? And yes, the following email was a much more bathroom-centric email. I went from a general customer, to a bath remodel customer with one click. Now for the past year, all I receive are bathroom emails from the home depot. Not because I haven’t started any other projects, only because I haven’t clicked on any other emails.
HTML emails are extremely effective if you use them properly. They tell you who (J.R.), clicked on what (bathroom vanity), when(June 6th, 2012 @ 7:58pm), where (8pm, he was probably home and definitely reading his personal email) and the why (he is probably renovating a bathroom). This can obviously be translated overt to a service provider to specify who is interested in what service they provide. How about using this technology to find out demographic information, gender, age, even cross marketing ideas. If you have a parent or sister company, slip in a link to a product somehow related and if they clicked, they may be a candidate for that companies newsletter also!
I love tinkering with All Things Digital, and HTML Email campaigns are one of them. Now, if you implement a marketing campaign with dedicated and analytically tracked social and web presence, search engine advertising and then put out a trackable email and follow up on your results. That is not only marketing, but effective marketing! Or, I guess you can just sit on your email list you’ve collected and not give these people any of the carrots they signed up to have dangled in front of them…