Are you creating a strong, growing contact database? How about keeping in touch with the contacts you currently have? If you’re not quite sure where your business stands on these two questions, then you may need some help with email marketing.
In this post, we are going to help you put together an effective email marketing campaign to grow your contact database and nurture your existing contacts for increased revenue.
What is Email Marketing?
As usual, we like to define the main term that we will be referencing throughout the article to ensure that we’re all on the same page. For this post, it’s email marketing.
Email marketing is…
…all about leveraging the speed and convenience of email to communicate important messages, updates, tips and promotions to recipients that have opted into receiving such messages.
Unfortunately a lot of spammers have abused email marketing. As a result, people are much more difficult to reach, let alone provoke a response or action from.
On the positive side, email clients have done a better job of catching and blocking spam and marketers are now forced to be much more creative in their approach to get their messages through….even to willing recipients.
Let’s take a look at how your business can put together an effective email marketing campaign in 10 simple steps.
Simple Steps to Successful Email Marketing
Perhaps due in part to the distaste that many people have acquired for email spam, email marketing has not received the attention that other online marketing strategies have garnered over recent years. You’re more likely to receive advice on search engine optimization or link building than you are on email marketing strategies.
Although we too find these other strategies to be extremely important in growing your online presence and generating business from your website, these strategies are still not as effective at nurturing the leads and customers you may already have.
To help you take advantage of an effective email marketing campaign we have put together the following list of simple, actionable steps to get you going.
10 Steps to Success
1. Select an Email Marketing Provider. The best thing we could tell you would be to do your homework, talk to and try different providers and go with the one that you click with the most. We’re not going to do that though as we know you’re probably not prepared to spend the time or money needed to do this. So, to make things a little easier we’d like to recommend any of the following providers to support your email marketing needs:
2. Clean Up Your Existing Database. If you’ve had a website up awhile, then you’re probably sitting on a decently sized database of contacts acquired from your website or sales efforts. Don’t make the mistake of writing these contacts off. Instead spend some time to clean up this database by removing expired information and improving existing information. Some great tools to update your contacts and verify those email addresses are:
3. Get People to Opt-In. The more people you try to email that did not originally opt-in the more trouble you will have actually getting an email provider to accept your list or even getting an email through to those people in the first place. The best recipients to send email campaigns to are opt-in recipients. Here are some creative ways to get people to opt-in to receive future messages:
- Place a simple email newsletter signup form on every relevant page of your website
- Add a link in your email signature to remind recipients of your one-off emails to opt-in
- Add an opt-in field to your inquiry forms
- Add an opt-in link to order confirmations and customer surveys that you send out
4. Keep Your Contacts Organized. One of the most commonly overlooked elements of email marketing is list segmentation. If you fail to properly segment your email contacts into specific lists, then you will most certainly experience lower click through rates and response rates when you send your messages. Here are some common fields to segment your lists by:
- Lead Source
5. Determine the Purpose of Your Campaign. Please don’t be like most other companies that just send out emails with a hodgepodge of company news, updates, tips, promos in one disorganized message. Instead, spend a little time with your marketing and sales team to pinpoint the purpose of each message so that you can craft the design and copy of the message to the proper list segment. To get your creative juices flowing, here are some common campaign objectives that you may want to consider:
- Qualify a lead beyond the information initially submitted
- Promote a specific product / service to generate repeat business from existing customers
- Drive traffic to a new page or article on your website
6. Don’t Overdo the Design. As with many things in marketing, the more simplified something is the more effective it usually will be. The same goes for design. Keep your email’s design very simple by following some of the tips below that we have found to be effective:
- Use more text than images (80% text, 20% images recommended)
- Include one primary call to action, but present it as both text links and a simple calls to action graphics
- Use design elements to get recipients to focus on the most important parts of the copy
Below is an example of template layout that we have found to be effective for many different types of email messages. Notice how headlines, copy and calls to action outweigh aesthetic elements like images.
7. Invest in Great Copy. If there’s one thing to spend your extra time or money on it’s great copy for your email message. If you’re not a strong writer, then hire someone with specific experience crafting effective copy. If you’d rather give it a shot yourself, then subscribe to some top newsletters to learn from those that do it best. Here are a few of our recommended picks:
8. Focus on the Subject Line. Like great copy, one of the most important elements of a successful email campaign is the subject line you decide to use. If your subject line is weak, then your email may never be opened or could even be filtered as junk mail. We’ve found the following subject line tips to help produce higher open rates:
- Avoid spammy words like “guarantee”, “free”, “call now”, “urgent” and “order now”
- Keep it under 50 characters (including spaces)
- Include your company / brand name
- Make it memorable, funny, intriguing and/or actionable
9. Setup Tracking. Before you go sending out any campaigns, it is very important that you setup the proper tracking. Being able to evaluate the effectiveness of each campaign will prove essential to maximizing your ROI. Some of the metrics you should be looking to track through your email provider’s dashboard and a website analytics tool like Google Analytics are:
- Deliverability (rate at which your contacts actually received your message)
- Open rate (rate at which your contacts actually open / view your message)
- Click through rate (rate at which your contacts click on links / calls to action in your message)
- Conversion rate (rate at which your contacts become leads / customers after getting to your website from your message)
10. Test and Refine. We can give you all the advice in the world, but the best results are going to come down to the combinations that work best for your business. The only way to find these optimal combinations of design, copy, etc. is to track and test different combinations. Some of the main elements that you should always be looking to track, test and refine are:
- Subject lines
- Style, tone and context of the copy used
- Font sizes, colors and formatting
- Calls to action
Growing Your Business with Email Marketing
Too often we hear from companies that a lot of the leads their website generated were unqualified. After some digging we usually find that these “unqualified” leads are just prospects who are not ready to make a purchase yet.
Don’t write these leads off like many companies do. Instead take advantage of smart email marketing campaigns that will nurture these leads and pull them through the sales funnel for you. Try using them to generate additional revenue from your existing customer contacts as well.
We’ve outlined how to get your own email marketing campaign going in 10 simple steps. The only excuse you can have at this point is that you just simply don’t have time to complete these steps. If this is the case, then we’re here to help.