Electronic forms of marketing, such as email campaigns, can be a very cost effective and personal way to communicate with potential customers, whether the objective is to reinforce or change the perception of a brand; create awareness of new products or services; and even a call-to-action. Electronic marketing is a powerful tool in the marketer’s arsenal and with the amount of tracking data available, it’s one of the more measurable and accountable activities.

One unique aspect of email marketing is that the cost of sending out 100 emails is very similar to that of 10,000 emails, but it is very important not to fall into the trap of thinking that more recipients = better results, this is definitely a case where I would choose quality over quantity. SPAM marketers take note!

Open and click rate data from a campaign, combined with sales data can be used to calculate conversion rates. If you could achieve a consistent conversion rate throughout all levels of growth in your database, then doubling the numbers in your database would be an easy way to double your business – so why wouldn’t you buy the biggest database of email addresses you could get your hands on? This is where the quality vs quantity argument comes into play.

The most successful databases are those that have been built up over time organically. Organic meaning that the email addresses have found their way into the database naturally through various points of contact – e.g. signing up on your website, information requests, online purchases, attendance at an event, competition entries, etc.

The important distinction here is that a contact that has been added organically will have had some prior contact with your brand or product. This is a proverbial ‘foot-in-the-door’ for your campaigns as you have already built some form of relationship with the recipient. Think about your own experiences – how likely are you to open an email from a company that you purchased from in the last month? How likely are you to open an email from an unknown company or a company you have never had direct contact with? Even an email from a credible and well known brand like Arnott’s for example, would be relegated to my ‘Trash’ folder without a second thought.

Those who take the shotgun ‘point in the general direction and fire’ approach to marketing may argue that a 0.1% conversion rate on a massive database is actually viable, but I would call this lazy on their part and it is marketing at this level that is giving the industry a bad rap. In fact I would argue that Spamming databases is a waste of everybody’s time and resources and will ultimately have a negative impact on the value of your brand – you don’t want to come off as desperate and have your brand lumped in with the ‘Cheap Viagra’ and ‘Canadian Meds’ crowd.