We can hear your almost audible sighs.
Everyone gets one every now and then; some people get them several times a day – those seemingly useless and irrelevant emails that seem in no way connected to you, your business – online or otherwise – your product or local service. And yet, somehow you have ended up on the email marketing list of a company is far-flung deepest Siberia offering you a 50% deal on salted fish.
But then, on the other hand, if you are not running an email marketing campaign you may be missing a trick or two. There are however, accepted ‘rights and wrongs’ of email marketing campaigns, an etiquette, if you like of what you can send, to whom and when…
Let’s start at the start; what is email marketing?
Definitions are more or less the same; Wikipedia says that email marketing “is directly marketing a commercial message to a group of people using email” and also goes on to say that any email that is sent by an individual on behalf of a company or business is also ‘marketing’, an interesting point when you see the addendum at the bottom of many an email message saying that the contents belongs to the company etc. The way you and your employees express themselves in email is clearly important – and a whole different ethical debate!
But is it SPAM?
Unsolicited emails – a bit like the dried fish at the start of the post – are those that are sent out in a rather indiscriminate way; an email is concocted, email addresses purchased from someone, somewhere and then, like using a mass leaflet drop from a plane flying overhead, they are sent out over the web and – fingers crossed – from the millions of emails sent, maybe they will get a few hundred responses and a few sales. Not a bad return of investment (or ROI).
OR, you can fire off an arrow, very much like an archer, aimed at the bullseye of a target. Rather than firing off indiscriminately, and clogging up inboxes, you have a clear aim and objective to any email marketing campaign you create and initiate.
And so, harnessing the power of email, your database of contacts (existing and potential customers, as well as interesting parties), along with decent graphics, a clear message and calls to action you will be emailing people with updates, tips, promotions, ideas etc. and then you sit back, feet up and watch as customers beat a path to your physical and online door… sort of.
It can – and has – gone wrong – so learn from the mistakes of others.
So, without further ado, here are Locally’s 10 steps to setting up and creating an email marketing campaign…
Step 1 – find an email marketing provider
There are few out there, some you may have heard of and some not but it pays to do your research. Next post we intend looking at MailChimp, probably the best known of the email marketing providers (you’ll recognise the logo!). Like any programs and companies out there, opinions differ so it is always worth checking which provider you feel you ‘click with’.
Can WordPress send email marketing campaigns? Yes it can and you will need a plug in – there are loads out there but contact us for some more ideas!
Step 2: Your database
BEFORE you even start composing and putting pen to paper, you need to take some time to look at your database of contacts but when we say clean it up, rather than seeing this as a ‘bin that address’ exercise, start looking to create different databases – for example, sales, enquiries, people who opted for more info… the titles are endless!
But there will be expired information on there too and, as always, the Internet has the answer! There are various online tools and websites you can use to verify information however, there may be sign up costs and monthly fees so you will need to consider the budget implications.
Step 3: Opting in
The best way – both ethically and in terms of good business sense – is to get people to opt in such as a newsletter ‘sign up’; this way you are sending information to people who WANT to receive information from you, so less chance of being accused of spam and clogging inboxes.
You can add an ‘opt in to our newsletter’ button or contact form quite easily on most websites, as well as other ways such as;
- A link in your email signature
- Add an ‘opt in’ button to contact forms etc.
- Any information or email you send as part of the ordering and receipt process of your online business (and put a note in with the goods too… you can always entice with a discount etc.)
Step 4: Stay organised
Easier said than done but in all honesty, if you are using orchestrated email marketing campaigns then you simply must remain organised – no IF’s and no BUT’s! You may want to think about making your segments or fields within your database more refined for future, targeted campaigns e.g. location, industry type etc.
Right, now we have you organised this is what you do next…
Step 5: Objectives
Rather than just firing off random emails that miss the bullseye, take some time to strategically plan your campaigns. The obvious one are the build ups to the times of year when you know you sell the most products and services e.g. October to mid-December for the festive rush, or January to March for the Easter rush if you are online sweet and chocolate emporium etc. But you need to answer these crucial questions –
WHAT do you want the campaign to achieve and HOW you are going to measure the impact of this impact?
SMART objectives – common across many industry and settings, SMART stands for:
Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic or Relevant and Timebound
In other words, what is it you propose to do, how will you know if this is successful, it is something that can be done and will it benefit your business and by when do you want all this to happen?
Want to know more about this? Contact us!
Step 6: The design
Take a look at the monthly letter we send out, offering our customers and interested people a snapshot of the blogs posted for this month (what do you mean you are not on our mailing list?! Where have you been?)
The design is striking, colourful and in keeping with our brand. Email marketing campaigns are not an excuse to go over board and overdo it; keep to your theme, colours and brand identity. And don’t forget the basics – a call to action at least once some marketing experts say, is essential.
Step 7: The Content
Content IS king; just like your website and blog, content littered with mistakes that is frankly rubbish is a huge turn off. Don’t forget the 3 second rule – this is the amount of time that someone takes in deciding whether they are going to carry on reading or not.
Sharp, sassy and great headlines – easy for us to say but if you know this is your Achilles heel then grab yourself a copywriter or content writer. Worth the investment we say…
Step 8: The subject line
The bit that everyone sees and, to be honest, makes the decision about whether they open it or not; if they know you, they may open it anyway just to have a quick look but, if you are sending to ‘unknown’, but will recipients, the subject line is important.
- Spammy words like ‘guarantee’, ‘free’, ‘call now’ and other marketing jargon are a clear turn off
- Including your company name is good
- Keeping is short works best
- And, finally, making the subject line funny or memorable, along with intriguing and actionable is also a great way to entice people to open your email (simple, then…?!)
Step 9: Track it
Like all marketing campaigns, you need to know how well or not it performs, hence tracking your email marketing campaign is somewhat essential… hard data is what you want:
- Deliverability – how many actually did receive your email
- Open rate – how many people opened it
- Click through rate – the number of times recipients clicked on links in your email
- Conversion rate – how many people actually became paying customers
Step 10: Review and Refine it
We are great believers in testing our email campaigns and newsletters so we can see what the recipient sees, making tweaks where necessary.
Maybe ask a trusted customer for some feedback; what did they think of the content and design? Impressed or not?