EDM Marketing and How You Can Develop Your Own Campaign

Updated January 8, 2020

If you look at your spam folder right now, what will you see? Probably a combination of any of the following:

  • Phishing emails
  • Unsolicited advertisement
  • Emails from a legit company that somehow earned the ire of the spam filter recently
  • Companies you no longer want to hear from but won’t let you unsubscribe from their email newsletters
  • A message from a prince looking for someone to split his vast wealth with

Spammers harvest email addresses from dubious sources and indiscriminately send advertisements that people never signed up for. Under the CAN-SPAM Act, this is illegal. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), “each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $42,530.”

The European Union’s (EU) GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) also requires explicit consent for certain forms of data processing.

EDM marketing, or electronic direct mail, is a digital marketing strategy that targets large groups of people in order to find leads, build relationships with potential customers, and boost sales.

EDM marketing is, in fact, a form of email blasting, but what it definitely should not be is spamming.

In this guide, we will discuss what EDM marketing is, how it’s different from email marketing, and the steps to follow when running an EDM campaign.

At a glance: How to run an EDM marketing campaign

  • Choose an email platform
  • Build and segment your database
  • Create your campaign
  • Set up your autoresponders
  • Enable tracking
  • Run complementary marketing campaigns

Overview: What is EDM marketing?

EDM marketing involves strategic and continuous database building and refining, with the intention of sending personalized communications tailored to the different segments of your contact database.

Although EDM is primarily email marketing, it also uses other marketing platforms to communicate and reinforce the EDM campaign’s message, including:

  • Social media
  • Remarketing
  • PPC (pay per click) ads
  • SMS (short message service)
  • Offline advertising that includes the occasional direct mail

Since EDM marketing involves other digital marketing techniques to maximize results, it’s safe to say that it’s more than email marketing or e-blasting. In fact, email marketing is just one component of it.

What does an EDM marketing campaign look like?

This type of marketing campaign can be defined by a few specific characteristics.

It's targeted

The “see if it sticks” technique that email blast campaigns of yore propagated no longer works.

Aside from spam being illegal, email recipients are now more discerning. They know they have the power to choose what they see in their inbox. Between their peace of mind and a company that puts its needs above theirs, there is no doubt that they’ll choose themselves.

As with other forms of direct marketing, EDMs must be created with a specific demographic in mind. This entails efficiently segmenting your subscriber database, so you can create offers that align with the needs of your intended recipients.

It's mobile responsive

Mobile usage is continually on the rise. In fact, recent data from eMarketer shows that in 2019, “the average U.S. adult will spend more time engaging with their mobile devices than watching TV.” Of the total time spent on mobile, 70% will be on smartphones.

That is reason enough to keep in mind that your EDMs must be optimized for mobile and that your content renders beautifully across devices.

EDM marketing vs. email marketing: What’s the difference?

As we’ve briefly mentioned, EDM marketing is, at its core, email marketing but works beyond the email marketing sphere to reinforce campaign messaging. Both have the same objective, which is to elevate the value of the organization by building and strengthening relationships with subscribers.

Organizations use them to:

  • Generate more leads
  • Build relationships
  • Keep subscribers happy
  • Increase sales

Another characteristic that email marketing and EDM marketing share is measurability.

Even if your email or EDM campaigns don’t achieve the results you expect, you have reports and analytics data that tell you exactly what worked and what didn’t. Vital audience insights and intelligence will help you improve future campaigns.

When should you use EDM marketing?

EDM marketing involves other marketing channels. If you think email marketing alone isn’t enough to get you the results you need, then run an EDM campaign. You can retarget subscribers who clicked on an email link via Facebook Custom Audiences and Google AdWords Remarketing, for example.

One important marketing 101 reminder: Your results will depend on the quality of your lists, so make sure your database is updated, clean, and properly segmented.

How to use EDM marketing in your campaigns

To get started with EDM marketing, follow the steps below.

Step 1: Choose an email platform

When working with small lists, simple tools like Excel may work, but once you’ve established a bigger database, email marketing software will be a huge benefit. These solutions come with workflow automation features such as autoresponders (more information on autoresponders below).

If you’re just starting out, Mailchimp and Sendinblue offer “free forever” plans with limited features, while VerticalResponse, ActiveCampaign, and Constant Contact let you try their software for free for 60 days, 14 days, and 30 days respectively.

Step 2: Build and segment your database

The success of your campaigns hinges on the quality of your names list, so make sure you’re getting your data from legitimate sources and that you’re consistently cleaning your database.

If you’ve been in business for a while, you can consolidate your contacts from sources such as:

  • Email accounts
  • Existing email list
  • Ecommerce platform
  • CRM

If you’re starting from scratch, try some of these email list building strategies:

  • Offer your site readers valuable content such as an ebook, a free webinar, or a 30-day software trial in exchange for their email information
  • Provide multiple ways for visitors to join your list, such as via pop-ups or through a web form at the bottom of a blog post
  • Add a link to your newsletter’s landing page (e-blasts are also referred to as newsletters), in your email signature, or social media profiles

Next comes list segmentation.

To send your subscribers targeted emails, you need to classify them accordingly. If you’re running a flash sale in a store in New York, for example, sending coupon codes to subscribers in California and Nevada is probably not a good idea.

Your segmentation criteria will depend on your objectives, but you can use attributes such as:

  • Geography
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Online behavior
  • Past purchases
  • Level of engagement with your emails

Step 3: Create your campaign

Now you’re ready to create your campaign and start an email message. With email marketing platforms, you usually would have to navigate to a “create campaign” page to start the process. From there, you can add your recipients or choose them from a list, and then design your content.

Some important things to remember when creating your campaign message:

  • Speak your subscribers’ language. Knowing and addressing their pain points is key to getting them to perform the desired action
  • Use visuals. Try to break up big blocks of text
  • Be consistent. Make your design adhere to a set theme.
  • Include CTAs. Make sure to try different locations that aren't simply at the bottom of your content
  • Add contact info. This includes your company’s social media links as well.
  • Don't hide the unsubscribe. To stay compliant with anti-spam laws, the footer should also contain an unsubscribe button or link

Step 4: Set up your autoresponders

Autoresponders automate email sending. They are essentially computer programs that perform an action in response to a trigger.

Triggers can be:

  • Specific actions, such as when someone opts into your list, they get a welcome message
  • Timed release, such as a week after signing up, new subscribers get discount codes

Common autoresponder uses include:

  • Birthday greetings
  • Content tailored to specific visitor behavior on your website
  • Bills, receipts, and confirmations
  • Abandoned shopping cart reminders
  • Product recommendations

Step 5: Enable tracking

Tracking how your campaigns fare against objectives is the first step towards improving engagement and boosting conversions. Some of the metrics and marketing KPIs (key performance indicators) you should be tracking for each EDM campaign include:

  • Clickthrough rate: The number of subscribers that clicked on at least one link divided by the total number of emails sent
  • Unique open rate: Total unique email opens divided by the total number of emails delivered
  • Bounce rate: Total percentage of email addresses that didn’t receive your email because the recipient’s mail server returned it
  • List growth rate: New subscribers minus unsubscribes divided by the total number of subscribers
  • Email sharing rate: Total “share this” clicks in your emails divided by the total number of delivered emails
  • Click-to-open rate: Total unique clicks divided by total unique opens
  • Unsubscribe rate: Total unsubscribes divided by total emails delivered

Step 6: Run complementary marketing campaigns

Depending on your objectives, complement your email marketing campaign with other marketing strategies, such as PPC, remarketing/retargeting, social media, SMS, or even offline advertising.

Should you use email marketing software for your EDM marketing?

Email marketing software applications are a vital tool in the modern marketer’s arsenal.

These applications allow you to plan your campaigns, monitor results, collaborate with team members, and automate everyday tasks that would potentially eat most of your time if you did them manually.

Above all, email tools have powerful marketing analytics features that measure the effectiveness of your campaigns.

  • Data capture and list management. Email marketing systems have contact management functions that capture essential subscriber data from your website and various other sources. Once your database is ready, you can segment your lists however you deem fit, such as based on location, gender, income status, or engagement with your brand.
  • Task automation. With email marketing software, you can easily set up if/then scenarios to automate certain tasks. For example, you can configure an autoresponder to only send follow-up emails to subscribers who opened the first email in a campaign.
  • Team collaboration. The best email marketing software applications allow teams to collaborate on campaigns. For example, Mailchimp’s Campaign Builder feature supports collaborative editing. It indicates how many people are currently working on a campaign. Mailchimp also lets users send test emails to teammates to gather feedback.
  • Reporting and analytics. This feature keeps track of your EDM and email marketing campaigns and provides insight into which campaigns are effective and what can be done to improve upcoming campaigns. Metrics your email app monitors include email open rates, clickthrough rates, bounce rate, and the number of unsubscribes.

Make your email campaigns more powerful with EDM marketing

Email is still one of the most powerful forms of marketing. With EDM marketing, you get the most out of your campaigns by complementing traditional email marketing initiatives with other marketing approaches.