Prior to the invention of the Internet, marketers would buy targeted lists of names and mailing addresses. They would then create a series of letters designed to convince people on the list that they couldn’t live without a particular product or service. This approach is called direct marketing and it generated billions of dollars for its practitioners over the decades.
It was only natural to adapt the same sales process to the online environment. E-mail addresses have replaced physical addresses but e-mail marketing is a close cousin to its snail mail counterpart.
The benefits of e-mail marketing would fill volumes but boil down to low cost and global reach. If you wish to get the most from your e-mail marketing campaign, follow these simple steps and reap the benefits of your hard work.
Before you sit down and dash off an e-mail to a list of prospects, take the time to think about what you want to accomplish in very specific terms. There is a big difference between trying to get new signups for your product and going for actual sales.
Keep in mind that anything you do with e-mail marketing should be in line with your company’s overall marketing strategy. Don’t send a single e-mail unless you have a purpose.
The first order of business is to create a sizable e-mail list to send your pitches to. You’ll soon discover you can buy lists, just like the snail mail direct marketers, but resist the urge. There is no quicker way to torpedo your online marketing efforts than to send unsolicited e-mail. People will complain that you are spamming them and you will be blacklisted.
The accepted way to build an e-mail list from scratch is offer something of value free in return for an e-mail address and permission to make regular contact.
Select and Create Your Campaign
Let the goals you set out in the preparatory phase guide your choice of campaign. In general, there are four basic types of e-mail campaigns to choose from:
- Newsletter: Sent daily, weekly, or monthly, this is an informational publication targeted to a specific area of interest. Newsletters are a great way to keep in touch with people you already know.
- Marketing Offer: Differs from a newsletter in that it seeks to encourage recipients to buy then and there. Coupons or discounts are a great example.
- Announcement: Sent when you have a new product or service to announce. This e-mail type is perfect when you expand selections regularly.
- Event Invitation: If you have an event coming up, send one of these out to encourage attendance.
Know How To E-Mail
Knowing when and how to send e-mails is your key to success. For instance, experts used to suggest marketers use the “Auto Insert” feature to personalize each e-mail with the recipient’s name. However, research has shown that this approach is a little too familiar for most people’s taste.
Your e-mail marketing campaign will rely on your subject line. Invest enough time and effort to create an engaging subject line that sparks your customers’ curiosity.
Think about when you should send your e-mail. Your best bet is to send it out between 8 pm and midnight on Saturday or Sunday. The main reason for this is that sent volume is low within these parameters, which gives your message a greater chance to be seen. For even better response, give something away. The Internet was created on the free content model, and it’s never truly disappeared. Target your freebie to the specific interest of your list and watch those click-through rates soar.
If you want to save time, consider using the mail merge feature of your e-mail provider. Both Gmail and Outlook provide you with the opportunity to easily create personalized e-mail messages that you can send to multiple people at once.
Perhaps the most critical lesson of all is to know how to keep your messages out of the dreaded spam folder. The first step is to read the CAN-Spam Act, which spells out what is acceptable e-mail behavior and what isn’t. Next, familiarize yourself with trigger words and avoid using them. While there is no definitive list, the point is to keep overtly salesy, hyperbolic, misleading messages from arriving.
This is a fairly straightforward step. Do what you say you are going to do. Keep your promises and never promise more than you can deliver. Also, do not e-mails than you say you will. Some marketers fudge this area. If someone signs up for a weekly newsletter, resist the urge to send them a daily message.
When you do get responses or inquiries, answer quickly and politely. Customers are the reason you’re in business in the first place. Treat them like the gold they are.
Manage The Numbers
There is no point in even beginning an e-mail marketing campaign unless you keep track of the numbers. That means you need to monitor which e-mails are being opened, which generate clicks, which website pages convert to sales or sign-ups and which don’t. Use an e-mail marketing tool combined with Google Analytics to obtain all the information you need in order to analyze your e-mail marketing strategy.
In conclusion, e-mail marketing should be a crucial part of your digital marketing. Although social media gets the splashy headlines, e-mail marketing still generates twice as much business. With a carefully designed e-mail marketing strategy, you could soon be taking your piece of the multi-billion dollar revenue pie that online sales generates.
Heather Redding is a part time assistant manager and freelance writer from Aurora, Illinois. She is a coffee-addict who enjoys reading and running. Street photography is her artistic outlet and she likes to capture everyday little moments with her camera. You can reach Heather via Twitter.