Why Email Marketing Should Be a Focus for Your Business

When consumers thought the internet was shiny and new, email was the top dog in connecting with friends. Nowadays, email is used for much more – it’s used to share content from companies, and allow the consumers to connect with brands, be it through purchasing products or simply feeling part of the brand’s story.

There are issues with email of course, and for years it has been used to scam unwise users for their hard earned money and fill inboxes with unsolicited spam.

In this day and age, people beg the question of is it still worthwhile for business owners and marketers to connect with consumers via email?

The answer is yes, and there are an abundance of reasons why:

Reaching Mobile Customers

Email marketing shows it’s value for business owners in it’s ease-of-access in connecting with and reaching mobile customers without the investment in new technology. A study by Forrester Research in 2014 showed that 42% of email opens from retailers happen on smartphones – a number which is likely to have improved since then.

It’s also a better way to connect with mobile users than something like SMS for example, as it works on mobile devices other than phones, and there is far more space for content. According to Litmus, around 51% of email opens now happen on mobile, so it’s always important to ensure your content is mobile friendly so you can connect with mobile-users better.

It’s Better Than Social Media for Customer Acquisition

Whilst social media is an important part of any business’s marketing, and it is a great way of interacting with your audience, it’s not a sound way of converting these people into customers or members.

Social Media is important as a first step towards customer acquisition, but email marketing is the way forward in terms of conversion. A study by Custora in 2013 showed that customer acquisition via email had quadrupled over the four years from 2009, and reinforced that it was a growing trend in e-commerce.

Cost Effective

Email marketing is great for allowing business owners to reach a large amount of consumers, or potential customers for next to nothing in costs. This makes it a high choice for smaller businesses instead of channels like TV or Radio.

As well as this, with the correct maintenance of an email list, the return on investment increased through the close relationship that is established with the recipients. Emails generally get a high response, be that opens, clicks or more – so your company or brand is receiving better responses at a lower cost and at a quicker rate.

Easy A/B Testing

 A/B testing is the idea of sending one variation of your campaign to one set of your subscribers, or email list, and a different variation to another set.

The ultimate goal of this is to work out which variation of the campaign generates the best results.

This can vary in complexity and can include different subject lines to see which has more opens, whilst more complex testing could include completely different results. This is available through email clients such as Campaign Monitor and MailChimp.

Application & Examples

To start in the world of email marketing, you’re going to need to do some research. Firstly, you’re going to want to pick the email client that’s going to let you apply your ideas in the manner you want. Then you’re going to need to find contacts to send the email to – by lead generation through your website. Finally – you’ll need to produce content and send this out to the contacts, sometimes segmenting specific content to specific recipients.

An example of email marketing at work comes from InternetRetailing, who reported that leading online chemist ChemistDirect had a 30% increase in revenue in 2013 from email campaigns after changing to an email client.

 

So, there you have it. There are many, many more reasons for businesses to get involved in email marketing that haven’t been mentioned, such as the ability to personalise.

According to Pure360, it’s time you should be taking email seriously.

 

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Regan Foy (Twitter / LinkedIn)

Staffordshire University Students’ Union

MSc Digital Marketing Managament Student (Full Time)

Esports. Is it a game changer for UK education?

Staffordshire University Business School has become the first British University to launch an esports degree. The course focuses on the business and culture of esports from developing teams, communities and a fan base to hosting esports events.

Staffordshire University has invested heavily in new facilities as part of a £40m transformation of its Stoke-on-Trent campus and academics feel the University is well placed to plug into rapidly growing sectors like esports which is the practice of playing video games competitively over the internet or via networked computers in venues and stadiums.

Already Staffordshire University has responded to the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment’s (Ukie) white paper on esports by introducing a module on esports in their Games Degree.

Back in January, Dr Fletcher, Head of the Games and Visual Effects at Staffordshire University said:

“The module which is available to students on our Games Studies course is a fascinating branch of cultural studies. It looks at the national, and international market for esports, and the cultural aspects that drive it as well as the darker side of cheating and doping by esports players. Games designers are growing up and that brings with it new trends in gaming which comes with its own set of ethical dilemmas.”

Other countries around the world have recognised esports as part of the curriculum for some years.  In South Korea, where the first esports association was set up 17 years ago, they have been accepting esports players onto their sports programmes for four years. At the Asia Pacific University in Malaysia, students can complete certificates in League of Legends, DOTA 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. In Norway,  the Garnes Vidaregaande high school pupils can opt for esports and can study for up to five hours per week, they focus not just on game play but also combine physical exercise in the mix.

One thing all these esports educators have in common is an agreement that esports provides a vast amount of transferable skills to the participants.

Top skills for esports:

  1. Teamworking
  2. Resilience
  3. Stamina
  4. Problem Solving
  5. Communication
  6. Endurance
  7. Decision Making
  8. Leadership
  9. Critical thinking
  10. Analytical

The students on Staffordshire University Business School’s BA (Hons) esports will also have classes in event management, digital marketing, the legal side of esports and streaming techniques. This will make sure that when they leave university they’ll have all the right skills to prepare them for a great career. With huge growth predicted in this area there are lots of job opportunities.  Many recruitment agencies, like Odgers Berndston have set up separate divisions to deal with esports careers and there are even some new sites that have sprung up like ‘esports Careers’ who are currently listing almost 500 vacancies.  The British esports Association lists over 12 career paths on its website, here are a few:

  1. Shoutcaster/host
  2. Coach/analyst
  3. Journalist/content creator
  4. PR/Marketing executive
  5. Community/social media manager
  6. Broadcast/production crew
  7. Event manager

To find out more about esports at Staffordshire University Business School visit the website staffs.ac.uk.

Rachel Gowers MBA
Associate Dean
Staffordshire University Business School

 

“Let’s be Honest” Rules the Roost

The Chinese New Year celebrations begin at the end of the month and 2017 is the year of the rooster (back to the chicken blogs Dr Peter Jones!). Apparently the rooster is a Chinese symbol of honesty, a quality that could be said to make or break a business. This led me to ponder on the requirement for honesty within an organisation and, despite the fact that truth is said to hurt, the difference that honesty can make.

Honesty is the best policy

How often have you heard that said? It’s certainly true in terms of crisis management and at some point or other all businesses will find themselves dealing with some form of crisis. Historically those businesses that have been dishonest have fared badly in these situations; BP notoriously handled the oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 poorly and dishonestly. Alton Towers on the other hand, have been repeatedly praised for their honest and straightforward response to the Smiler crash in June 2015. I’m a firm advocate of holding your hands up and admitting it when you get something wrong, then throwing all energies into making good any damage done and moving on.

I can see you!

Of course in these days of instant digital communication, businesses can’t hide their mistakes for long. There’s always some follower with a bug to bear that can’t wait to post or tweet negatively about a brand the minute a mishap occurs. Businesses seem to be getting wise to this and there are numerous examples of how organisations responded cleverly to crisis situations via their social media channels. The secret seems to be responding in a timely and appropriate manner…as well as being honest!

Lies, damned lies and statistics

Are dishonesty and lying the same thing do you think, or is one more intentional than the other? Either way, Volkswagen was hauled over the coals for lying about their emissions tests. That faux pas cost the company dearly, posting their first quarterly loss for 15 years in October 2015. Clearly it doesn’t benefit businesses to lie…unless they can get away with it.

One would hope that the businesses of today have learnt from these examples and that honesty and integrity prevail in order for the wheels of the business world to turn. The Federation of Small Businesses appears to be confident in the current economic forecast, so all bodes well for both the old red hens and the hatching businesses of 2017.