8 Tips to Get Started on Email Marketing
October 10, 2012 3 Comments
There are many questions and concerns that SMB marketers face while planning their email marketing strategy. They range from choosing an email services provider, designing templates, writing interesting content, implementing analytics, tracking metrics, getting people to opt in, keeping track of new channels of communication like tablets, mobile phones and more. As a result, email marketing quickly turns from an interesting idea to a tricky and seemingly overwhelming project. How can you make sure that your email marketing produces results rather than wastes your time? Here are a few tips that have worked for me in executing e-marketing for Affinity Express.
- Research best practices
Reading up on general metrics of email marketing such as average open and click-through rates will help you set targets for your campaigns. Insights from other marketers will save you time by helping you to avoid problems and employ tactics that work. For instance, 54% of people who unsubscribe from permission emails said the reason was that emails were coming too frequently. Furthermore, 77% of online consumers say they’ve become more cautious about giving companies their email addresses over the past year according to Subscribers, Fans and Followers research series by Exact Target.
The chart here shows reasons for unsubscribing from business mails as determined by Exact Target.
2. Make subscribing easy
The most likely place to get someone to subscribe to your emails is your website when they are already visiting because they are interested in your business and curious to know more. Capitalize on this opportunity and add a call to action to sign up on all pages.
3. Ask only for what you need
The more information you request from people signing up to your email list, the more likely they will abandon. People are reluctant to fill out long forms, especially if they don’t understand why you want certain details and what you plan to do with their information. As explained by Anthony in UX Movement, “Most users are afraid that if they sign up for a website, they’ll get spammed. This is mainly a problem for sign-up forms that ask for the user’s email. If you ask for the user’s email, make sure to note next to the field what you’ll use their email for. This will ease users’ spam fears, and make them feel more comfortable about giving you their email.” So, it is a good practice to add a note that states you only send email to visitors who ask to receive them and will not share subscribers’ information with any outside parties.
4. Know your target audience
Once, you know who you’re trying to connect with and what their goals and needs are, the easier it becomes to plan your content strategy. Think about the right frequency for communication, the buying process, typical objections of decision makers, the competition’s strengths and weaknesses, etc. Figure out how your emails can provide added value, whether that means educating prospects on the problems your products address or curating information important to their vertical markets like research and trends. You want them to read your communications and conclude they got value for their time, not a rant on why your products or services are the best.
5. Segment your customers
Make sure your Facebook page and other social network pages contain email opt-in forms and take the opportunity to ask some questions related to buying preferences and other details relevant to your business. Social media users may be more willing to provide information (but don’t go overboard—see #3). Based on the answers, you can segment your database. Keep in mind that, if you ask for these details, subscribers who share them are going to expect your emails to more directly address their specific needs and desires than those who have not shared information.
6. Focus on quality
The best ideas will not be well received if your emails are filled with typos or the layout makes it hard to get through the content. Spend the time to proofread and build professional-looking templates. If this is not your strength, find someone who ensures you are delivering attractive and well-written communications (this extra help is not expensive, whether you use a freelancer or an outside vendor).
7. Inform or educate instead of selling
I unsubscribe from emails that don’t engage me because they are only focused on selling upcoming events (paid of course!) or other products. I realize that the ultimate goal of email marketing is to boost revenues but the hard-sell approach can work against you. It is better to provide some sort of service and build an ongoing relationship. For example, a company selling hair dyes could talk about new trends in hairstyles, latest hair colors and highlighting techniques that would interest its audience and drive up its sales versus simply showcasing the products. Plus, your chances of getting new subscribers increases when you offer some kind of incentive, as 67% of U.S. internet users say the motivation behind giving their email address to companies is discounts and promotions (EmailStatCenter).
8. Promote your content
Emails are a great vehicle to share your other resources like blog posts, research reports, independent product reviews, case studies and other information that can help customers. You give content you’ve already created new life by promoting it in your emails and gain another means to see what topics interest your audience so you can develop new articles.
These are a few things I’ve learned since working on our email campaigns for different client groups. Let me know what other tactics you apply to keep your subscribers from hitting the spam button!