In its broadest sense, every email sent to a potential or current customer could be considered email marketing. It usually involves using email to send ads, request business, or solicit sales or donations, and is meant to build loyalty, trust, or brand awareness. Email marketing can be done to either sold lists or current customer database. Broadly, the term is usually used to refer to:
• Sending email messages with the purpose of enhancing the relationship of a merchant with its current or previous customers, to encourage customer loyalty and repeat business.
• Sending email messages with the purpose of acquiring new customers or convincing current customers to purchase something immediately.
• Adding advertisements to email messages sent by other companies to their customers.
Transactional emails are usually triggered based on a customer’s action with a company. To be qualified as transactional or relationship messages, these communications' primary purpose must be "to facilitate, complete, or confirm a commercial transactions that the recipient has previously agreed to enter into with the sender", along with a few other narrow definitions of transactional messaging. Triggered transactional messages include dropped basket messages, password reset emails, purchase or order confirmation emails, order status emails, reorder emails and email receipts.
Direct email involves sending an email solely to communicate a promotional message (for example, an announcement of a special offer or a catalog of products). Companies usually collect a list of customer or prospect email addresses to send direct promotional messages to, or they can also rent a list of email addresses from service companies, but safe mail marketing is also used.
Email marketing (on the Internet) is popular with companies for several reasons:
• Email's immediacy reduces delays in communication, allowing businesses to run more smoothly.
• An exact return on investment can be tracked ("track to basket") and has proven to be high when done properly. Email marketing is often reported as second only to search marketing as the most effective online marketing tactic.
• Email Marketing is significantly cheaper and faster than traditional mail, mainly because of high cost and time required in a traditional mail campaign for producing the artwork, printing, addressing and mailing.
• Advertisers can reach substantial numbers of email subscribers who have opted in (i.e., consented) to receive email communications on subjects of interest to them.
• Almost half of American Internet users check or send email on a typical day, with email blasts that are delivered between 1 am and 5 am local time outperforming those sent at other times in open and click rates.
• Email is popular with digital marketers, rising an estimated 15% in 2009 to £292m in the UK
• If compared to standard email, direct email marketing produces higher response rate and higher average order value for e-commerce businesses