“Email Marketing can seem frightening and daunting at first, but by following these steps and staying the course, you will reap benefits for your company.”

 Have you been trying to figure out the best way to attract customers to your business?

Are you leery of jumping into the arena of social media marketing?

Fear not, there’s a better, more rewarding choice for you. We suggest putting your efforts into creating an email marketing campaign. You may be assuming that email marketing is a passé way of driving customers to your business, but you’d be wrong.

It is still one of the most effective, relevant ways to increase your customer base and ultimately increase your company’s revenue by actively engaging with real customers and subscribers.

Marketing via a mass e-mail campaign has many benefits such as:

  • Allowing business owners to communicate directly with their customers.
  • Keeping current customers “in the know” about new products and services and keeping your business top of mind.
  • Directing customers to active blogs or websites that provide even more information about the company, products or services.
  • Driving further engagement to social media pages and other communication outlets.

If you are unsure of how to start an email marketing campaign, we’ve got you covered! It is not a difficult thing to do; it just takes a little time, proper planning, and some know-how.

Here are six basic steps to getting your campaign up and running effectively.

#1 Know Your Audience

Know Your Email Audience

Creating a successful email marketing campaign starts with defining your readers. Take some time to sit down and really determine who will be reading the emails you will be sending. Think about what defines these customers or readers. How are they different? What are their interests?

This step may take a little time, but the end result will be worth it. Once you have determined exactly who you want your audience to be, you’ll be on your way to cultivating your business. Also keep in mind you do not have to over-generalize your content for multiple audiences. With email marketing you can keep each group separate and market to each one separately.

#2 Create a Content Plan

Creating an Email Content Plan

Once you have identified your audience(s) next you must develop the actual content for your emails. This step is crucial so take your time and think about exactly what message you want to send and how you want to convey it. One of the hardest things for most new email marketers is coming up with what to write about. How do you want to position your company? Are you an authoritative source of information? Are you providing product or service information updates? Are you letting customers know about whats new? Are you simply building awareness? These are all unique angles you can take to strike the right chord with your customers.

If you are having trouble thinking about what to write about the easiest thing to do, would be look at your competitors. Subscribe to their email newsletters. What are they writing about? Or perhaps you are selling a specific product or service, go to Amazon and find books about your product. Take a look at the chapter list and you’ll get an idea of important topics that matter to those who are interested in your product most.

All yourself some time for this step. Don’t try to throw something together the day you want to send it, or even the day before. An effective content strategy is well put together. Give your words some serious thought. Write at least two drafts and allow yourself the ability to make changes to it before you compose the final draft and hit the send button. It might help to set a concrete goal of what you want to accomplish with your emails and tailor your content to meet those goals.

A content plan should also not only include what you wish to put into your first email blast. You should also be thinking ahead. Map out the first few weeks or months of your campaign. That way you can continue to stay ahead of the curve and have content ready to go when its times to send the next email.

#3 Choose a Delivery Rate

Choosing an Email Delivery Rate

Now that you have content and a plan, coming up with a delivery rate is the next step. Best practices suggest, do not send your correspondence too frequently as that might be off-putting to both current and potential customers. A good rule of thumb is to send your emails at least at least once a month and no more than once a week. It will be helpful to set a schedule for sending your emails and stick to it faithfully. Your readers will begin to develop an expectation of when your emails will arrive and what they will say.

In addition to frequency, the day and time of day can greatly affect the number of people who open emails. On average, early in the week, Monday through Wednesday and late morning to early afternoon seem to be the best times to deliver your marketing emails.

Keep in mind, these suggestions are generalized and your particular audience, product, or service can impact your ideal delivery rate, day, and time to send your marketing blast. Pay attention to your subscriber open rates when you begin and make sure you understand the behaviors of your readers so you can deliver better content when they are more likely to be reading it.

#4 Setup Your Email Account and Email Marketing Provider

Finding an Email Marketing Provider

Now that you have defined your readers, decided on your content and set a schedule to send them, you now need to create a dedicated email account and find a reputable email marketing service to handle delivery of your content. There are so many options on the market today ranging from completely free to several hundred dollars per month.

Our best recommendation is start small, and find a free service if you have a starting list of 500 subscribers or less. You can easily move your list to a more robust provider over time as your list builds or you need additional features. Two free options to explore would be MailChimp and Mad Mimi. Both have free options for small email list holders that still offer a ton of awesome features, including the ability to design your email layout right on their website or choose from a library of predesigned templates.

You can create a universal template and simply apply it to any future emails so everything you send your customers/subscribers has the same branded look. Both of these services also provide a good amount of tracking data allowing you to learn all you need to know about the behavior of your subscribers and how they respond to your emails.

If you do not want to track results or create a custom look for your emails, you can send directly through your website hosting account. However, most hosting and email providers will limit the number of recipients you can send to at a time so doing it this way you might have to send the same email several times to cover your entire list. It’s also important to have a dedicated email account for your email marketing in order to keep it organized and easily manageable.

Email marketing is also limited to sending emails only to those recipients who have opted in to (agreed to) receiving your marketing emails. By law you must have authorization and some type of subscriber opt in step in place to abide by today’s accepted marketing practices. The majority of best email marketing practices can been summarized through the CAN-SPAM Act, which is an email marketing compliance guide for businesses. You can read more about it here. So in short, be careful how you send and to whom otherwise it can negatively affect your business.

Email Marketing Automation

While you are just starting out, it is important to also think a little further down the road. Consider choosing an email marketing service that includes some level of marketing automation. This might seem like a foreign concept to you but as your list grows you will want to find ways to keep your readers engaged, entertained and coming back for more. What’s relevant to a first time subscriber may be very different than something a subscriber who has been reading your emails for 2 years might care to see. Consider how you should approach both

#5 Build Your List

Building Your Email List

As you begin your email marketing a continual goal should be to build your list, grabbing as many interested subscribers as possible. There are numerous ways to do this depending on your audience such as Opt-In forms embedded into your website, or as a pop-up. You can also utilize social media and other channels of promotion to increase your subscribers. For example, Facebook currently allows you to run “contests” or other promotional advertising that requires users to signup for your marketing lists to partake in the content or promotional event.

Keep in mind, you are asking someone to give you one of their most sacred possessions in the marketing world… direct access to their inbox. Therefore, make sure you are offering something great in return. Create a free giveaway or some other incentive for those who sign up in order to boost your subscriber rate significantly. You’ll notice the majority of successful email marketers use giveaways to encourage signups.

#6 Track Results & Make Adjustments

Tracking Email Marketing Results

Once you have complied your email list and sent out your email marketing composition, it’s time to monitor your success. Be sure to be watchful of your headlines, content and timing. These are all factors that can have a major impact on your email campaign. By keeping a close eye on these factors you will be able to determine what tactics work and which ones don’t.

The great thing about email marketing is once you have this marketing data to analyze it is easy to make changes. If you find that your subject line isn’t capturing enough attention, change it to something that will attract more people. If customers aren’t responding to your content, try changing it up.

Make sure you are using words that appeal to your customers’ senses, pique the readers’ curiosity, promise something good to the readers and then follow through with those promises. Try anything that will be appealing and garner interest and responses. Also, encourage feedback and engagement directly with your subscribers. Getting your audience involved in the discussion can greatly increase activity with your email marketing as well as boosting more relevant traffic to your website.

Email Marketing can seem frightening and daunting at first. But, if you follow these steps and stay the course with it, it will reap benefits for your company. So, take a deep breath, start compiling a list of people to contact, and compose that first email blast. You’ll be glad you did!

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of email marketing or developing a more in-depth inbound marketing strategy we can help. Feel free to schedule a consultation with our marketing team to discuss your needs further.

 

Gerald D. Vinci

Author Gerald D. Vinci

Gerald D. Vinci is a branding and marketing consultant in Monterey, CA. He is passionate about helping small business owners create new opportunities for success and growth.

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