Step by Step of Email Marketing

In our time poor lives, we only want relevant content sent to us regarding someone’s services, products or problem solving.  That process needs to be measurable to justify your investment.

Before you even start an email marketing campaign, ask yourself if it really is necessary. It requires time and effort to put a campaign together and if the purpose is unclear, then maybe the entire idea is not necessary. Also consider the enquiries that may result – are you and/or your team prepared?Emarketing

Layout or Template

The email template should be a reflection of your company’s branding and be consistent with all other marketing. Don’t forget to include contact details, social media icons are handy, most email marketing systems also ask you to include a reason why you are on the mail list and most importantly, include a ‘call to action’.

Then you need to define your recipients or maybe you already have subscribers on your list but it is preferable that they are segmented into categories. Then you can determine the content of your campaign. What is the relevance of each recipient? What did they sign up for? Compile useful content that is informing or problem solving for your customer. Rarely do they want you to ‘sell’ them something. That comes as a result of the marketing. And show your own personality because nobody wants to communicate with a robot; and nobody wants to spend all day reading ‘War and Peace’ so get to the point and leave it open for them to contact you for more information.

To maximise your email marketing requires a thorough process of targeting recipients with highly relevant content. The start of this process is how your database contacts are grouped or segmented i.e. buyers, sellers or past clients etc.  The content of your campaign, whilst it may be a similar message, will be crafted in a manner to suit the recipient. Without making the content or the message very specific, then it is as good as spam or junk mail to the recipient.

The key to promoting relevant content is to provide an offer that is connected to the initial request.  For example, my real estate clients don’t need to embrace my services for resumes or vice-a-versa. So offer content that fits the recipients needs.

Integrate your email marketing with other systems that connects your ‘whole of marketing’ plan through blogging, website, social media and beyond.  Your email system should also self-manage your list so any blocked or bounced email addresses are reported and after 1, 2 or 3 attempts (depending on system) they are automatically deleted.  It’s one of the key elements of most email marketing systems. Then you can also extend the campaign to include auto-responders to further automate your marketing to run a series. Beware though that you don’t have the reverse effect and turn the customer away. If you are going to use auto responders, it needs to be carefully timed and again skilfully crafted to steer the recipient down the sales funnel not drive them away.

Timing of your marketing campaign is everything. If you are sending out emails at midnight, you had better hope that your recipients are more likely to still be awake, probably not if they are business owners. Ultimately, you have to decide what works best for you and your customers. Also take into account any upcoming holidays or special events. Then you can decide what result you want from the email marketing. Do you want them to look at your website? Help promote sales or increase traffic for an event?

Your email-marketing schedule will vary, of course, depending on your industry, type of content, sending frequency and so on. Here’s an example of how you might plan out your campaigns:

Step 1: Jot down content topics, art ideas, basics for your upcoming newsletter.  This step can be shared within your business.

Step 2: Write out what you’d like to say about each topic, pull photos or art into a folder.

Step 3: Log in to your email marketing system and create your campaign. Proofread for errors and grammar. Send a test campaign to yourself and at least one other email address. I send to a Gmail account as well as my domain email account. You will find the layout slightly differs between them. This is the most important step of all.

Step 4: Send your campaign or schedule to send at the most appropriate time.

Step 5: After at least 24 hours, log back into your email marketing system and read the report.

Commit to sending out an email campaign at least once a month to keep your customers hungry for more. If you don’t feed them, they will wander off elsewhere.

Let that database grow – A good database needs to experience growth and filtration every time it is used. Increasing the size of your emailing database and keeping your contacts engaged in your business is no easy task.  To grow your list, you may choose to buy a list however this is NOT recommended and will breach Spam Act 2003.  This practice will surely land you in hot water and have a very negative effect. Learn to earn the privilege of having someone on your database and ask for their permission or at least advise them that you would like to add them to your list.

How do you retain your subscribers?  You will also need to consider the frequency of email engagement. What is the ideal frequency for your business?  It may depend if you are a B2C or B2B model. Clearly a B2C model business requires far more communication either daily or at least weekly whilst a B2B could have a smaller engagement with a monthly generalised email such as an e-newsletter. To to be clear to your target market about what they will get from subscribing to your emails (think about WIIFM). Consider the benefits and value i.e. tips to run your business more efficiently, latest VIP product releases or special exclusive offers.

Email campaigns are probably the most cost effective marketing tool but should not be considered as a ‘stand alone’ tool to be fruitful. Your marketing requires a holistic approach to strengthen your other initiatives. Similarly, you cannot use social media in a vacuum, or only rely on blogging to meet your goals. The real power comes from achieving a strong marketing mix.

Most marketing (non) professionals are guilty to sending email blasts that are not necessarily related to the actions or interests of their recipients.  Such practice doesn’t help push leads down the sales funnel or activate a call to action.  In fact, it can often alienate them and thus the recipient may unsubscribe.

Once again, two important factors for successful marketing campaigns:

1.  categorise your database according to their interests

2.  keep the content relevant

The biggest appeal with email marketing is its fast measurability and low cost.  You can track your customers activity history and further marketing can be then done to specific recipients that actually clicked on links or opened the email (or perhaps those that didn’t open it).

How long should your email be? That can vary from a small postcard size email (that I’ve had some great results on) to a 1,000 word newsletter over several pages.  It will depend on what is relevant and what you need to say. Don’t make it too lengthy or it won’t be read.  If it is way too long, then consider using a landing page on your website and only produce a small email with a link.  This reduces the overall length of the email, and allows you to monitor click-through rates and understand which topics are of particular interest to your recipients. This will also help you for the next campaign.

Reports – your email system will generate a report after a campaign is sent. This is really important to track and measure the effectiveness of your campaign. If you are unsure if you have all the right components in your campaign, you may want to consider a splitting of the campaign into A/B lists to test the best option. Most email systems can accommodate this. They will send out a few emails with one subject line to List A and then a few more to List B. The subject line that receives the better result then becomes the preferred one and the rest of the recipients will receive that.

Does your business invest in email marketing? What’s been your success formula?