Your Guide To Successful Email Marketing

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What is email marketing?

email marketing
Email marketing is any message you send your audience by email. It’s more than sales letters, discount offers or other traditional sales pitches. It’s not meant to be used as a prospecting tool but as a way to build relationships.

Your email might be a thank-you for a donation or a purchase, a friendly reminder about an upcoming appointment or a lapsing subscription, an invitation to an event or a personalized birthday or anniversary greeting.

You are building a relationship through their inbox. You can’t send one email and consider it done. Your email marketing should be an ongoing conversation with your audience. You’ll send emails regularly to stay in touch, inform, educate, enlighten and even entertain your audience. Email marketing makes and reinforces connections with customers.

Why does email marketing rule?

A lot of people consider email marketing the great equalizer because it allows the little guy to play in the big leagues. A small investment can make a big impact.

That’s not to say that email marketing is free. It doesn’t require postage or printing, but it does require manpower to create and design content and email marketing software or an email marketing service to deliver messages. These services typically charge a fee based on the number of emails sent. Costs obviously vary, but compared to other forms of advertising and marketing, are fairly inexpensive.

So, while your business might not have $60,000 to $100,000 to spend on a full-page ad in the New York Times, chances are, it has a fraction of that to spend on an email marketing campaign. When you do, you’re likely to get a greater bang for buck than you would with traditional advertising.

Why? Well, for one, although the NYT is read by almost 1.4 million people a day, most of those people are not your target audience. With email marketing you reach people who are interested in your business or who need your services.

Two, while traditional advertising is static, email marketing is dynamic. Recipients can interact with and respond to your email. For example, recipients can make comments, sign up for offers and share your information with others. And, with email marketing, you can easily—and relatively inexpensively—change your email campaign to make it more effective as you go.

And speaking of effectiveness, consider this. Research shows that consumers who click on and read an email marketing campaign are 65% more likely to make a purchase because of it.

Great! So where do I start

There are a number of things you’ll need to do to get your email campaign under way. As email marketing has grown, quite a few legal requirements have been enacted. Here is a step-by-step guide:

Are all your systems go?
Meet with your technology experts and make sure these three issues are taken care of before you launch your campaign. Be sure you have:

  • a secure email service provider.
  • set up sender authentication.
  • compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act.

Plan your campaign
Look at the year ahead, and decide what kinds of messages you would like to send and when each message should be sent. Use this plan as your roadmap. It will help you and your staff set deadlines for content, design and delivery of each message.

Start with a stellar subject line
Ready to develop your first email? Start by writing a snappy, intriguing and interesting subject line that will grab your audience’s attention. Don’t go to extremes, though. No shouting with all-caps and exclamation points. To prevent your emails from being perceived as spam, avoid words that are known to trigger spam filters. The list is long, and it’s available on several reputable Internet sites.

Let a few well-chosen, active words grab your readers’ attention. For example, if your company sells paint and you are sending an email about the most popular colors this autumn, your subject line could be: “Fall’s top 5 colors for your walls,” or “Hot wall colors for Fall.”

Keep your email list clean
Your email list is like your closet. You have to clean it out and straighten it up—and not just once a year. If you don’t, you’ll get customer complaints and bounces. About one in six emails sent by marketers fail to reach inboxes: some just go missing, others land in spam/junk folders. Even a small increase in bounce rates or customer complaints can have a big impact on your sender reputation. Review your email list at least once a quarter and look for these issues, all of which will damage your reputation as a sender. Remove addresses when:

  • the email hard bounces. This means the address is invalid.
  • the email isn’t being opened. If a recipient hasn’t opened your email for six months or more, they obviously aren’t interested.
  • the recipient labels your message as spam.

Also, make it easy and quick for subscribers to unsubscribe. It is the polite, professional and legal thing to do.

The future of email marketing is mobile

About 75% of your subscribers will check email on a mobile device first. Some will read it later on their desktop, but a good number will delete emails from their mobile device that aren’t optimized for mobile. Responsive email templates make it easier to develop mobile friendly emails. Using responsive design ensures that your email will load quickly, have the proper proportions and be easy to read and navigate.

Give them the content they want
To develop great content, think about what your customers want to hear from you. Talk to staff and loyal clients. Do surveys. Look at how other leading businesses communicate with their customers by email. After you’ve pinned down your subject matter, adhere to the principles of good writing. Here are some
primary points:

  • Be clear and concise.
  • Make sure your grammar and spelling are correct.
  • Be brief. People get a lot of email and they tend to scan.
  • Keep your subject narrow and stay on topic.
  • Make your email targeted and not a catchall.

You want people to respond to your email, so provide multiple ways to do that with links to registrations, comments or additional information.

Make it easy on the eye
Make your design attractive and easy on the eye. Busy, hard-to-read fonts, too much text or text that’s too small and cluttered designs are all common problems.

One message doesn’t always fit
To be more targeted and effective, segment your list according to your recipients’ needs and interests. For example, if you operate a nonprofit, send different
messages to donors, volunteers and leadership. You can segment your audience in many ways: where they live, what they buy and how much they donate are a few
examples. When you ask recipients to sign up for emails, collect information that segments them. Segmentation makes so much sense. Readers are more engaged when
the information is targeted to them. They appreciate the personalization and they are more likely to share information about your company with others.

Measuring your impact

An email marketing platform will be the engine behind your campaign. Not only does this platform send your messages, it follows their path and gives you valuable feedback about what your audience did when it received your message. Email marketing platforms tell you who and how many people opened a message, what links they clicked on, whether they labeled it as spam or unsubscribed, how many forwarded the email to someone else and many other details.

Keep up the good work!
As you launch your email marketing campaign, expect to invest time and money as your team plans and delivers your email marketing campaign. And remember, the work is not done when the campaign is launched. You must monitor it, tweak it, improve it and analyze it.

July 10, 2017

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