Money. That’s your email list boiled down to one word. Yet many businesses fail to take advantage of what is considered “the most valuable asset any business can have”. Some don’t know the process on gathering emails; some find it hard to produce the right type of content, while others just don’t know where to start.
On our quest to help businesses succeed online we reached out to five email marketing industry leaders for their advice.
We asked each of them the same question:
“What is the best advice you can give to a small business that is starting his first email campaign?”
Here are their answers:
Robert Burko – CEO of Elite Email
There is a big difference between “just sending out emails” and “effective email marketing”.
The mistake I often see small businesses make is that they are so excited to start sending out emails that they miss the critical step of establishing email marketing goals that facilitate overall business goals.
The best piece of advice I can give to a small business just starting out with email marketing is to sit back and really qualify and quantify your goals.
What do you want to achieve? This way you can approach each individual email marketing campaign with those goals in mind and have a clearly defined way to measure the effectiveness.
- Do you want to build your brand?
- Do you want to drive sales?
- Do you want to increase website traffic?
- Do you want to generate phone calls?
- Do you want to increase referrals?
- Do you want to push people to your social pages?
Each one of these objectives is different and requires a different approach so know what the target is BEFORE you start aiming.
Once you’ve got your goals, the next most important thing to understand is that “content is king”. People open your emails because it has value to them. If you stop providing content that is valuable, people will be less inclined to open your email and you will see an increase in unsubscribes. It’s important your content is always fresh and is worth the recipient’s time to read it.
There are no shortage of distractions on the internet, so if you want undivided attention from your reader, you better have a content strategy that is worth it. Even if your goal is to sell a product, try to include some useful content in your email as well so you’re not just sending out pure marketing message after pure marketing message.
Make sure you’re on your own mailing list and put yourself in your customer’s shoes…. are you excited to open up your latest email and see what’s inside?
Adam Tuttle – Head of Business Development @ Active Campaign
Learn to use automation’s.
As a small business, time spent on marketing is precious. It goes without saying, that marketing personal often wear many hats and you will not devote 100% of your time to email marketing. With that being said, learn how to use automation tools provided by many email marketers.
Why? Although it might take extra time to be set up in the beginning, the automation’s will save hours of work in the future.
For example, you can set up an entire series of predetermined events to take place based entirely on a single contacts actions (e.g. clicking a link, opening email, etc).
Instead of trying to manually figure out who did what and then segmenting those parts of the list to create follow ups, you can create an entire automated series which runs 24/7, saving you valuable time.
As you can see, creating an automated campaign series is full of opportunities to engage and manage your contacts through a pre-determined course of action. The initial setup often takes minutes and will drastically reduce workload. You can even set notifications to be sent to yourself if contacts fulfill a certain specifications (e.g. did not open campaigns) for a personal follow up.
These types of tools can take a one man show with limited resources to a full fledged email / marketing department that runs itself.
Amanda Gagnon – Education Managar @ Aweber
Do not, do not begin gathering a list of subscribers until you have the proper materials in place.
Think about it: you sign up on a new bakery’s web site and land on a standard thank you page. That’s it. You hear nothing from them. You’re disappointed.
Where are your promised scone-and-tea pairing suggestions and “free birthday cupcake” emails?
A few months later, you get an email from a bakery you don’t know with the subject line, “Easter Cookies Are Now Available! Order Now!” You’re annoyed that you’re getting a request to purchase from a random bakery. You hit the “spam” button. No good.
Before you start collecting sign ups, here’s what you need to have in place:
- A thank you page (preferably branded, at least with your logo)
- A confirmation page (on your own site, if you can make it happen. People who land there can then keep clicking around.)
- A branded email template (it’s very easy to just pop a logo and signature onto a free pre-designed email template)
- A welcome email thanking your new readers for signing up
If you want to create a tutorial or whitepaper to give away as incentive to sign up, you can add that later. It’s a nice bonus, but not essential at all, and can cause a significant delay. The important thing is to get those basic materials in place so you can start collecting subscriptions, and your new readers can recognize your emails right away, while they still remember signing up.
Mac Ossowski – Director of Education @ Get Response
Your first six months with email marketing are crucial for capturing enough subscribers so that you can see a steady revenue flow form your newsletters.
You simply need to build up a big enough audience that can read your emails, click-thru to your website and finally buy your products.
Use all methods available to build up your email list. Install a sign up for on your website, blog, Facebook fan page and promotional landing pages. If possible, collect email addresses in your offline store or trade shows.
You can even promote sign up opportunities in the transactional emails you send out from your online store after the purchase is made. The more visible the chance to sign up, the bigger the chance that your list will grow fast.
If you just started with email marketing, consider installing a lightbox on your website. Industry reports say they’re eight times more effective than a regular, embedded sign up form.
Remember that you can’t take shortcuts, so don’t be tempted by purchasing an email list. This can wreck havoc to your deliverability and has almost none sales potential.
Igor Polevoy – CEO of Express Pigeon
There are two important parts to email marketing: first, you need to have a list of engaged subscribers, second, you need to plan and develop high quality content.
Let’s focus on the list building techniques:
- Start collecting email addresses of people interested in your business. Create a http://launchrock.co/ (or similar service) page.
- Create a “coming soon” home page on your site, and collect emails there, and advertise it on social networks and with PPC
- Create a subscription form in your favorite email marketing platform (ExpressPigeon :)), include a link to it in every newsletter you send out and encourage your subscribers to share this newsletter with friends (give out incentives for this). Having a sign-up call to action in a newsletter will help friends too to sign up
- The signup forms should tell people what they are getting and you must absolutely stick to the promise. This includes type of content you promise, but also frequency of newsletters.
- Create a blogging/content creation strategy. Online content goes hand in hand with email marketing.
You need to “guestimate” the desired frequency of sends (by-weekly, monthly, etc) and based on this:
- Plan ahead to create high quality content that will go out on schedule
- Create a feedback form/survey
- Respect unsubscribes
- Ensure your emails look great on all popular email programs
- Post main content on your site/blog, and include a teaser to it into newsletter – this way you will be drawing traffic to your site from email.
- Reach out to influential (having large email distribution) bloggers in your industry and offer to guest-blog. This will open you up for their audience.
- Obey the General Laws of Email Marketing: Only send to opted-in lists, Send quality information, what subscribers want, anticipate, read and engage with.
That’s it folks
I hope you enjoyed this round-up of answers on effective email marketing and trust you found some actionable items to use in your business marketing.
Please use the comments section below to let us know what you think is the most important tip for businesses venturing out into the email marketing frontier. And if you already struck gold using email marketing, we’d love to hear how you did it.
Photo Credit: Jaselab