by: Thomas Young
Companies who ignore email marketing are missing a huge opportunity to connect with customers and grow sales.
Most small businesses don’t use email to market their products and services. They are missing out on what may be the most cost-effective form of online marketing available. It is common for business leaders to see e-mail marketing as spam, but the reality is loyal customers and targeted prospects are looking for valuable content that can improve the quality of their lives or make their job easier. Email allows you to meet those needs and reach thousands of targeted subscribers in a way that is unmatched by other forms of direct marketing. Here are the steps to get started with e-mail marketing.
Build a Great List
The very best email lists include people who voluntarily sign up (opt-in) for your e-mail marketing program. Another good source are e-mail addresses collected from online sources such as your website and social media. Email marketing success will always be based on the strength of your email list and the value subscribers get from your e-mail content. Purchased email lists do not usually bring enough value in building a great list of loyal followers. In addition, using a purchased list is likely to upset people who feel they are being spammed. We don’t recommend using your email list to prospect for new business by including people that have no connection to your company.
Make it easy for website visitors to sign up for your e-mail blasts on your website. Your list should comprise loyal followers, current customers, referral sources, prospective customers and others who know your company. Start with those that know your company best and build a great e-mail list. Some people will obviously ask to be removed from your list or unsubscribe. Don’t dwell on these people, as they will usually be a small percentage of the overall list.
Email Signup Box
Place an easy-to-find email signup box on your website, if possible on the upper left corner of the site. This allows for easy access from your most loyal followers and those most likely to subscribe. Email subscribes can be tracked in Google Analytics and this should be seen as a key conversion point for your website.
Prepare Excellent Email Content
E-mails with poor content are deleted or go to spam. Emails with excellent content will be read, distributed around the web and will drive website visits and online conversions. Write desirable content in emails. This includes content that helps people do their jobs better or improves the quality of their lives. It should also include a strong call to action and/or promotions. The graphic design of your email blast should be appropriate for your target market. Many email marketers make the mistake of over-designing their email blasts, and this leads to low response rates as most people prefer content over graphics. Interesting photos and valuable content will draw email subscribers to your company.
Monthly Email Marketing
The frequency of your marketing emails depends upon your online strategy; however, once per month is a good target for most email blasts and newsletters. This is enough frequency to stay top-of-mind with subscribers, but not too much, which is annoying.
Coordinate Email Marketing with Social Media, Blogs and other Content
Email newsletter campaigns work best when coordinated with social media and blogs. Content and special promotions sent in your marketing e-mails should also be included in social media. Also, make sure to archive all your e-mail newsletters on your website and code them for SEO purposes. Allow website visitors to subscribe to your blog posts and your e-mail newsletters and announcements.
Track and Measure Email Results
There are dozens of very good email marketing providers with excellent tracking capabilities. Programs like MailChimp, ConstantContact, iContact and others are easy to use and have excellent reporting tools that often link to Google Analytics. These tools will cover the bases needed to make sure your e-mail campaigns follow the rules and drive success. These software tools have excellent pricing, and are easy to set up to deal with subscribing and unsubscribing issues.
If done correctly, there are very few downsides and many upsides to running a monthly email marketing program. A few people may unsubscribe, but the vast majority of people will appreciate your valuable e-mail content, especially if they are loyal followers or customers. This connection with your -mail content will drive sales. Take the time to make email marketing a part of your strategic digital marketing strategy and your content marketing plan.
- Set up an account with an email marketing service such as MailChimp.
- Add an email signup box to your website.
- Make a list of email topics that help your target market do their job better or improve the quality of their lives.
- Make a list of email promotions and calls to action that have worked in the past (offline or online).
- Assign a content writer to prepare brief, informative emails.
- Make use of excellent photography with captions in email blasts.
- Make sure subscribers can easily opt-out of your email lists.
- Plan a monthly marketing email and track results in your web stats.
Thomas Young is the CEO and founder of Intuitive Websites. He is an author, speaker and digital marketing consultant. Order Tom’s book “Winning the Website War” to get more digital marketing insights.