If You’re not Doing Email Marketing, Read This
Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing methods in existence. It doesn’t take much time, doesn’t cost much money (if any) and has been known to have greater conversion rates than many other types of marketing. To best explain what email marketing is, I will first explain what it isn’t. Email marketing is not creating, buying, or renting a list of email addresses of people you do not know, only to send them emails about what you’re selling. This might have been considered email marketing in 1996, but it’s not anymore. As you might know, this practice is called “spamming,” and it is illegal unless you follow some strict guidelines (see the legal guidelines at www.brickway.net/can-spam-act/). Another reason spamming is no longer considered email marketing is that it doesn’t work. Internet service providers have become adept at filtering out spam. This means that most spam email will not even make it into the targeted person’s inbox. Sure, some gets through (as most of us can attest), but the majority of it doesn’t. Even if the email does get into someone’s inbox, that person will most likely delete it faster than you can say “trash bin,” and may even report you as a spammer (which can have serious consequences).
So, what does it take to do legitimate email marketing these days? In a word: permission. Most of us have certain brands, stores, and services that we like. We sometimes give permission for these businesses to contact us on a regular basis through email (or snail mail). How and when do we give that permission? We do it when we join their “rewards program,” or some similar type of gimmick. We might sign up to get their emails because we actually want them. Most of the time, however, we’re simply bribed into giving out our email addresses in order to receive discounts, free gifts, award points, or some other benefit.
Can email marketing help your business?
Most likely, the answer to this question is “yes.” One of the great marketing minds of our time, Seth Godin, wrote that the Internet has brought us to a time where “permission marketing” rules the day. This means businesses need to have a patient and gradual approach to selling. Permission marketing involves seeking permission to market before actually trying to do it. The opposite of permission marketing (according to Seth) is “interruption marketing.” Interruption marketing means trying to make sales and get conversions from strangers without any courtship, or “permission” to market to them first. For several decades, interruption marketing ruled the day. We bought products and services based on the ads we saw on TV, in the newspaper, in magazines, etc. Email and the social web have brought us to a time when real and personal connections are important to our buying decisions. For businesses to stay on people’s minds today, it requires regular interaction that’s friendly and not aggressive. Email marketing is a perfect vehicle for your business to do just that.
Interruption marketing still has a role to play in the marketplace. After all, how can a new business get noticed without using some traditional interruption tactics? Interruption marketing can start a relationship with a customer. Permission marketing, such as email marketing and the use of social platforms, should then be used to keep the relationship going.
How can your business start an email marketing campaign?
To have an email marketing strategy like I described above is not that difficult. There are several services available that can make the whole process easy. Here is a basic rundown of how it works:
- Decide on a strategy for collecting email addresses from your customers and visitors to your website (such as an offer for a discount, or a free gift).
- Sign up for an account with an email marketing service.
- Follow the instructions from the email marketing service for installing an opt-in form to your website.
- As people opt-in, the email addresses will appear in your account with the email marketing service.
- Send emails on a scheduled basis to keep your business fresh on the minds of the people on your list. The email marketing service will make that easy by offering you many options for how and when the emails should be sent, including various design templates you can choose to use.
Making your plan
An effective email marketing campaign starts with having a good plan. First, consider the most important questions: What types of messages will be sent? What type of content will be included (e.g., tips or “how-to” advice)? How often will emails be sent? As you make your plan, keep your most important goals in mind.
Once you have a general strategy, consider these questions as you go: Do you have an appealing subject line? Do you have a have a clear call-to-action? Is your contact information easy to see? Do you have an “unsubscribe” button for them to opt-out if they desire? Are you including links to your social web pages and videos? How does the email look on smartphone devices?
Another aspect to consider is how you will monitor the results. Through various email marketing services, you are able to see statistics, such as click-through-rates, unsubscribes, sharing rates, and more.
Types of emails you might send in your campaigns
You want your emails to be interesting and appealing to your readers. It’s best to make them personable and informative. Adding a personal touch and useful information will help keep your business on their minds in a positive way. Be sure to mention any discounts or promotions you are running at that time as well. Here are some ideas for the content of your emails:
- Tell stories about things happening with your business.
- Offer tips or advice on topics related to your business.
- Tell stories about your workers or customers.
- Mention new products or services you will be offering soon.
- Write something to pique their curiosity, and then provide a link to a page on your website that has the “answer.”
Top things to know about email marketing
- Email marketing is effective, easy and inexpensive (or free).
- Email marketing does not mean renting or buying a list of addresses only to spam them on a regular basis. It means building your own list of people who have agreed to receive your emails.
- Spamming is illegal, unless you follow the strict guidelines of the Can-Spam Act of 2003.
- One of the best ways to build an email list is to offer something in exchange for signing up for your mailings, such as a discount or free gift.
- Spamming doesn’t work due to modern email filters and the general distaste of the public for unsolicited mail.
- There are several email marketing services that make this very easy and almost fully automated.
- It’s important to have an appealing subject line and a clear call-to-action.
- Adding a personal touch along with useful information will help keep your business on your readers’ minds in a positive way.
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See "The Internet Marketing Strategy Book" by Barry Abraham
Barry Abraham is the author of "The Internet Marketing Strategy Book." This is a 10-chapter book that gives an easy-to-understand overview of current Internet marketing opportunities.
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