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What is EDM (Electronic Direct Mail) marketing? A complete guide for SMEs

Email is a rare digital technology that has stood the test of time. Despite the rise of social media, instant messaging and business collaboration software, email marketing remains a universal way of communicating online.

The simplicity of email makes it a popular channel for business marketing, with email generating up to $38 for every $1 invested a greater ROI than the likes of TV, radio, online video, social media, display, paid search and affiliate marketing.

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That said, a business can’t start emailing customers and expect instant profits.With both email providers and readers becoming increasingly savvy at weeding out marketing communications, a modern email campaign needs more variety and nuance if it is to succeed.

What is EDM marketing?

What is an EDM? EDM stands for electronic direct mail. EDM marketing is built on the foundation of email, but it can be thought of as a more holistic approach to customer communication.

EDM Marketing begins with constructing and refining an email database. This is a catalogue of potential customer profiles, which offer contact, demographic and personal information. These snapshots of your audience allow you to segment your database into groups that you can then target with more tailored and hopefully, more effective communications.

While EDM Marketing primarily involves email marketing, it doesn’t limit itself to email. A number of other marketing channels can be utilised as a part of an EDM campaign, including:

  • Social media marketing
  • Remarketing and retargeting
  • Pay per click (PPC) advertising
  • SMS marketing
  • Direct mail and other analogue campaigns

The purpose of an EDM campaign is more or less the same as any other marketing campaign – to communicate a compelling message. Whether that message is designed to build trust, tell a story, sell a product or solicit an action is entirely up to you. But unlike other marketing campaigns such as SEO, display advertising and social media marketing, your message is delivered direct to the end user via their inbox, making it in some ways a more personal experience.

What’s the difference between EDM and email marketing?

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Both an EDM and Email Marketing are types of marketing campaigns and both focus on emails. You might be asking yourself what exactly is the difference between EDM and email marketing?

The main difference is in their relative complexities. An email marketing campaign is just that – email. You build your database, send out emails, then measure and attempt to improve the campaign’s effectiveness.

An EDM marketing campaign might begin the same way – building a database – but it soon diverges from the standard email marketing process. You can start to segment that database, targeting specific types of customers, you may offer complimentary campaigns through strategies such as retargeted ads, SMS or direct mail, and you can feed the information gathered from these efforts back into your audience database – making each campaign more effective than the last.

The Rule of Seven states that most prospective buyers will want to see or hear from your brand on average seven times before they make a purchase. EDM offers more opportunities to get your business in front of your audience, and greater effectiveness once you get there.

The 5 main benefits of EDM marketing

1. Cost-effectiveness

By using smart tools to craft and deliver your campaign and cutting out the costs involved in a traditional mail-out, EDM can be one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing available to a business.

2. Surprising simplicity

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A wealth of automated tools are available to take care of the campaign groundwork, whether that’s generating emails, scheduling social media posts or sending out SMS messages. This leaves you more time to do the high-value work, like speaking with your customers!

3. Brand recognition

Instead of getting an email every now and again (that inevitably ends up in a ‘marketing’ or ‘spam’ folder), the multi-channel approach of EDM means that your target audience will see your brand in more places, building recognition that will eventually develop into brand trust.

4. Increased conversions

Having developed a database of people who want to hear from you, and having earned the recognition mentioned above, you’ll eventually enjoy increased conversions. This study found that 62% of customers are loyal to brands that they trust.

5. Personalised experiences

As you become more familiar with your audience (by feeding campaign information back into your database), you can segment and personalise your communications to become increasingly effective. Think personalised birthday emails with a surprise discount code.

7 steps to create an EDM marketing campaign

Step 1: Choose a platform

The platform you choose can significantly impact how effective your EDM campaign will be. Research the best solution for you and your business, and be sure to take advantage of free trials, like the one offered by Square Marketing (more on that later.)

Step 2: Build your database

The platform was chosen, now you can begin to develop a list of potential customers. You can collect their information in many ways – when they sign up online, when they purchase in-store, via social media or content marketing, through webinars or surveys… the list goes on and on. Be sure to get as detailed a view of each individual as you reasonably can, keeping in mind that people won’t want to spend much time filling out information.
*In certain situations Australian privacy law requires that an organisation or agency needs an individual’s consent to collect personal information, and to use or disclose it.

Step 3: Segment your audience

Once you have a healthy customer database, you can start to segment your audience into groups to target with customised content. The more relevant your communication is to the recipient, the more likely it is to result in a sale.

Step 4: Craft your communications

Now it’s time to write your first email! There are many templates you can use to help you craft your first message, it can become overwhelming!. Keep in mind that the first step in your new relationship is to build recognition and trust, not to sell directly.

Step 5: Hit send

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When you’re happy with your email, hit send! Be sure to set up autoresponders while you’re at it – these are the automatic emails that get sent to anyone who signs up to your mailing list (usually a welcome email followed by an introductory offer.)

Step 6: Introduce other marketing channels where appropriate

This is the point at which EDM diverges from standard email marketing. Because you’ve worked to build a more complete view of your audience, you’ll have some insight on the sort of communications they respond to, both in terms of content and channel. You’ll use this information to complement your EDM campaign with other channels, whether it’s social media marketing, PPC and display advertising, remarketing or a simple SMS.

Step 7: Measure results and update your database

Measure the success of your EDM campaign andtweak as needed.You can then feed any information about your audience back into your database, so you can market more effectively next time!

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