Question – “Is Email marketing still a viable advertising venue? Will an email campaign sell products?”
Answer – Yes, but only if it is handled very carefully.
Email marketing can be an inexpensive option for getting your offer in front of a targeted list. There are several services that will send your email for you to a preselected list of aviation industry contacts. This can be tempting. We’ll show you how that can work, below.
What will NOT work, (and we don’t recommend that you try it!) is to buy a list or obtain a list from a professional organization or chamber of commerce and to simply start sending your emails to that list. Nor is it a good idea to simply type in that list of business cards from your last networking event or export your LinkedIn contacts into your email system.
Just because someone belongs to the same organization, connected with you at a networking event, or connects with you on social media does not specifically give you permission to send them email. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve connected with someone on LinkedIn and suddenly began receiving emails about Scottish terriers or home-built gliders, neither of which I have a particular interest in.
One of the biggest issues with email marketing is low response rate. The phenomenon above is part of the reason for this. The world seems to be awash in SPAM. Nobody opens every email they receive. We simply receive too much of it! Anything you send has to be very, very carefully targeted and have an attractive offer specific to its audience to make it through the noise.
There are two definitions of SPAM –
- Unsolicited email, as defined by the CAN-SPAM (See The FTC website for more information)
- Anything the recipient says is SPAM.
While the first can get you into legal trouble, the second is perhaps even more important because in the aviation industry, we have a limited pool of prospects. If these prospects hit the “spam” button, even once, as a result of a communication with our company, we’re essentially out of communication with them.
This is true in two ways.
Logistically, if a recipient designates an email from you as SPAM, you lose the ability to send them email.
Psychologically, once they’ve categorized the materials (in whatever format) you send them as SPAM, however unfairly, it will be difficult to lose that prejudice in future communications.
As technology improves, email server technology gets more sophisticated, making it more and more difficult for our emails to be received, even by people who have requested to receive them. Several factors have a bearing on deliverability:
- The reputation of the sender with the receiving email server.
- The reputation of the sending service (Constant Contact, iContact, InfusionSoft, MailChimp, etc.)
- The rules set up by the receiving server (many will not accept email from the AOL service because of its perceived email reputation, for example)
- The reputation of the sender with the receiver
- The subject line
- The schedule on which emails have been received
So, our mission as marketing professionals is to position our communications as valuable enough that our prospects want to continue to receive them.
- Only send to double opt-in (verified permission-based) lists.
- Be specific about what you’re going to send, and how often.
- Send on a regular schedule. (Every Monday, or the first of every month)
- Write valuable information specifically designed for well-segmented lists.
If you use a reputable list service (like Aviation Broadcast) you’re banking on their reputation, delivery schedule, and so on. You control only the subject line and content of the email. The upside is that if people unsubscribe or mark your email as SPAM, that reflects on their company, not yours.
Also, you need to consider that it takes up to twenty contacts with a prospect to make a sale in this economy. Getting the same prospect to open 20 different emails from you using a broadcast service is an expensive and risky proposition. So you need to convert interested prospects from the broadcast broker’s list to your own in-house list as quickly as possible.
If you’re using your own in-house list, you need to handle it very carefully. Feed your list only high-quality email, for example, use topics your customers have asked you questions about. Send your emails on a regular schedule. Don’t ignore them for months and then send an email.
Here’s our advice for an email campaign that makes the best use of the media while minimizing the downsides.
- Create a “lead magnet” offer, such as a downloadable report or free consultation that is high-value but low risk to your prospect.
- Create a high-value newsletter and give it a high-value name and focus like “Tip of the Week for Maintenance Professionals.”
- Talk with several reputable list brokers in the aviation industry (assuming your product is for aviation industry professionals.) Find the best fit for your ideal prospect.
- Deliver an email, then deliver your “lead magnet” to people who respond to that email.
- Ask these responders if they’d like to receive your newsletter.
- Deliver your newsletter on a regular schedule, ensuring that it delivers on the promise you made in the name with high-value content.
- Deliver additional offers of products or services that are highly targeted to your newsletter subscribers
So, the answer is, yes, but you need to take the extra steps to convert an unlikely email contact into an in-house contact!