EDM Marketing

by Tim Davidson
9 min read

EDM marketing (or Electronic Direct Mail marketing) is often talked about as one of the most effective and easiest ways to engage your audiences, build a following and loyalty, and ultimately to drive sales. But what exactly is it?

At its core an EDM marketing campaign focuses on sending out emails, and other forms of electronic communication (e.g. social media and text messages), to your customer base (sometimes referred to as ‘blasts’). These messages usually contain promotional offers and other communications that your customers get value from.

It’s important to remember, not all EDM marketing is about sales. Keeping your customers engaging with your brand is often enough to maintain loyalty and help you build a relationship with them.

How to use EDM marketing effectively

As with any marketing campaign you should have a plan. Here we have put together a short outline for what to consider when developing your EDM marketing plan.

Set some goals for the campaign

Before starting any EDM marketing campaign you need to have clear goals for what you're aiming to get out of it. This is the best way to measure the success or failure of the campaign. With the right information, you can determine what worked well and what did not, and then make adjustments to your next campaign.

We recently went through this exercise with an engagement campaign. A high-value trial of Quizpipe was included in a package of digital resources sold by a company called Ultimate Bundles. These users were completely unfamiliar with our brand and the platform so we had the goal of running a 4-week engagement campaign where we’d see an average of 60% open rates on our emails, and return visits to our website from at least 20% of those users opening the emails.

screenshot of activecampaign email campaign results

Setting goals is highly contextual to your business. For us, these goals are ambitious but achievable because we can use past campaigns as a baseline.

It’s important to do some research and try to identify your baselines before you get into campaigns that are really important. You’ll need this information to work out if you’re hitting the mark with your messaging or you need to change tactics.

Choose how you’ll send out emails

The way that you send out emails can all depend on how big your email list is. For a small list you can use Google Sheets to maintain all of the email and other contact details. But, with larger lists this can become cumbersome and difficult to use.

Screenshot of Google Sheets being used for planning emails

There’s also a strong risk of damaging your email deliverability scores if you’re sending out too many bulk emails from your personal email address. Web servers around the world share a “black-list” of people sending malicious and unbecoming emails. These people often use Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo and other personal email accounts to send out big batches of emails. Avoid making yourself look like these people.

There are lots of automated services that can help you out when your contact list becomes hard to manage. If you’re just starting out, Mailchimp is a good option for developing automated email marketing campaigns. Their tools are relatively easy to use and for small and limited in scope campaigns it’s free to use. However, it can get expensive quickly as your list starts to grow.

We personally recommend ActiveCampaign. Their tools are unrivaled and they allow a lot of room to grow as your business scales up. They have a solid API, decent customer support and a stack of great integrations. I should note that we are not affiliated with ActiveCampaign in any way. We’re just big fans of their platform.

Creating the campaign

Writing an email that puts your customer first can be hard to write especially if you’re not used to putting your thoughts into words. You can follow some of these tips to create an effective and relatable email for your customers.

  1. The email should read like you’re talking to someone, don’t over think your writing. Get it all out and then go back over it and edit the content down to just the basics
  2. Keep the text free and breathable. This means use plenty of gaps in your writing. People actually read in chunks of text, having a paragraph every three sentences or so will keep it easy to read.
  3. Keep to a consistent design for the emails. This will help people recognise who it is from and they’ll be more likely to open and read it.
  4. Add in CTA’s (call to actions) throughout the text, and not just at the end of the email.
  5. Include your business details and keep the unsubscribe function clear. Hiding an unsubscribe link is often against anti-spam laws.

Examine the data

At the end of the campaign examining data is an effective method for figuring out what worked well and what didn’t perform as expected. You can compare the results of your campaign to what your goals were and decide if it was a success of not. Remember that failure is nothing more than a learning experience!

A more scientific approach to finding trends in your data is to implement A/B or split testing. Most popular email service providers have these features, and they can be incredibly powerful. Split testing is taking a variable like a headline and sending one version of it to 50% of your recipients and a different version to the other 50%. You can then do direct comparisons of open rates, link clicks and general engagement.

A good habit to develop is picking at least one element of your campaign to test each time you run a new campaign. Over time, these observations can make a big difference to the way you write your emails.

The only downside of split testing is you really need to have a decent sized contact list before your findings have any real statistical significance. Building a big list of emails is a challenge no matter how experienced you are as a digital marketer or business person. But every quality email you acquire on your list is like money in the bank.

Is building a big email list that important?

With Instagram and Facebook influencers hiding around every corner, kids flossing and recording dubbed TikTok videos, and the constant global stream of Snapchats bouncing around, is email even relevant these days?

To put it simply, yes. EDM marketing is still the king. In HubSpot’s 2020 study focusing on the effectiveness of email they find that for every $1 invested in emailing their customers, they receive a whopping $42 in return.

It’s not easy to paint a direct contrast with social media marketing but it’s well known that the price of Facebook ads has increased drastically over the past few years, while organic exposure is moving in the opposite direction.

Social media, especially the newer platforms, holds a lot of excitement and potential for marketers. However, it’s harder to deliver the kind of persuasive sales pitches that convert.

How to build a contact list for EDM marketing purposes

You can’t simply send out email to anyone you like. There’s a lot of legislation around this practice and it’s very much illegal and can get you in all manner of trouble, the least of which is, being seen as untrustworthy. It’s also generally ineffective as the people receiving your emails are extremely unlikely to open or interact with it. Randomly sending out emails, or using a purchased email list means that you’ve done nothing more that lowered your reputation and wasted your time.

Have you ever wondered why so many large companies have ‘loyalty’ card programs? These are essentially a means for collecting customer details, and they buy this data by offering specials when someone uses their card. While a loyalty card is a good idea it can be difficult to set up, especially for a smaller operator. An easier way to collect emails and phone numbers is to have a mechanism on your website that is designed to do just that.

However, people won't simply hand over an email if you ask them, you need to give them a reason to do it. An easy way is to provide a form of entertainment, this is where online quizzes are very powerful, especially if they look good and strike a chord with your potential customers. You can use quizzes on different social media platforms as this is one of the best methods to get people to interact with your brand. If you include it with social media marketing, they can drive potential customers to your quiz, and collect even more emails rather then just sharing it among your own followers.

Using Quizpipe to help build your customer contact database

Quizpipe can help you gain email addresses through providing you with the tools to produce and organise a well-planned out quiz. As a design-it-yourself platform Quizpipe allows you to choose how your users interact with the quiz. You can share the quiz on any social platform you like. When people use the quiz and share it with their friends you can add in a request for their email address.

To gain the most amount of email addresses from a quiz, it should be topical and interesting to a large amount of people. It should also relate to your customers in some way, shape, or form. If the quiz is completely random and nonsensical then it may not get much play or interaction at all!

The best designed quizzes have a tendency to go viral, and this could see your database of emails increase substantially. You can start designing quizzes after you sign up for a free account at quizepipe.io, you’ll see how easy and fun these are to design and setup. Quizzes can be added to your social media accounts or linked directly on your website.

What’s next with EDM marketing?

EDM marketing is relatively cheap for the amount of work it can do to build your business. It’s a fantastic way to improve your brand and to communicate directly with your customers. You’ll more often get great feedback from your efforts especially if you make use of the many analysis tools available.

Direct customer communication, like what you get with EDM marketing means that you’re only going to send your promotional and branding material to people that are actively interested in what you’re selling; and that is the true power of electronic direct marketing.

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