Value of an email address?

Question : What is the value of an email address?

Back story – For those of you who don’t remember me, I used to own a pizza shop about 6 years ago. I operated a full service place with a bar, that also offered delivery. Due to local alcohol licensing, we tried to stay family friendly, while also pushing more of a sports bar theme. It just never got to the point where we could get out from working IN the business, so we sold.

Had we hung on a bit longer, we might have been doing better. At heart, I’m a geek. I would have been all over Facebook, Twitter and SMS marketing had we made it another year or so. Most of that was just coming around the corner to mainstream when we sold.

I moved into real estate, which so far has been rewarding. I really enjoy it. It also required me to dive head first into web development and learn how to build a really strong web presence. I picked up WordPress and learned how to quickly build websites, how to do basic ( and some advanced SEO .) Today I run the monthly WordPress meetup and help others with their sites and try to give back as best I can. I also help organize the annual “WordCamp” which is a day long conference that deals with working with WordPress.

Last year I built a plugin with a buddy. Plugins are basically drop-in or bolt on functionality that you can use with WordPress. We built something that I would have used to help market my pizza shop had I stilled owned it. It essentially gives your guests and potential guests a reason to view your website, take in impressions of your logo, oh and while they are there… maybe they will order. We built a bracket pool manager. It functions just like Yahoo!, CBS, or ESPN’s for the most part. But, instead of them going to Yahoo! or ESPN’s site, they go to yours. Along with that, they have to register and put in their name and their email address, which you are then able to use down the road to send promos, newsletters, etc.

So I come back to my original question. What is the value of an email address to you? I’m trying to update my marketing material and I’m curious what operators in the trenches would say. I know in the past I’ve seen people do free bread sticks or something else to help capture email addresses and with online ordering increasing in popularity where people input their email addresses… how much is an email address worth to you? Can you quantify that a customer with an email address can be marketed to for 30/60/90 campaigns efficiently? That an email address means that they would more than likely use online ordering and save on in store staff?

Your insights and suggestions would be appreciated! My product is essentially a marketing tool, so I’m trying to get an idea of the value of the end result. Customer data ( email addresses ) – with the website visits, etc being secondary.

Thanks!

-Scott

Most email ‘open rates’ are less than 20%, so I’ve stopped using email for promotions…

I’m a ‘rabid’ fan of SMS, for my market…less than 1% removerate and nearly 100% ‘read’ rate, and a decent return, depending on the offer/reason…

But remember, generally my 1st SMS is a thank you for their order…

Harvesting a “Clean” email list is invaluable. My POS collects email addresses and I can import them into an email program but it does not mean the customer opted in to said list. If you have an organic email list then you can send emails and drive traffic as need be. If the system is clear that “Hey your signing up for this and our list too” then I am all for it!

I think e-mail marketing is still one of the greatest way to reach your current customers. These are the people that signed up to receive your emails because they want to hear from you. When they don’t want to hear from you any longer, they unsubscribe.

Also, you should not base the success of your email campaigns by open rates. Personally, I use a preview pane for most of my emails. I still read the message and and can act upon it, but never even have to open the email. Yet I still got their message. There is no data out there to calculate how many of your customers are doing that as well.

We average about a 26-30% open rate for our emails. When we send out an email campaign we generally have a great response to it. It also helps to have a catchy or enticing subject line which makes people want to open it up and see what it’s all about.