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Four Steps to Launching an Email Marketing Campaign

Four Steps to Launching an Email Marketing Campaign

photo credit: Jack Moreh

Email marketing is a creative technique businesses have long used to reach people who could potentially be interested in their company. To some, the idea is outdated and social media is considered king for appealing to customers and clients. However, despite changes in the marketing world, email marketing still is a powerful tool business owners can use to make their business accessible to the right people.

Email marketing, when done right, can nurture leads and keep current clients and customers involved with your brand. According to Gigoam Research, marketers consistently ranked email as the single most effective tactic for awareness, acquisition, conversion and retention. In fact, email emerged as the “digital marketing workhorse,” deemed effective for meeting all objectives.

We know the importance of email marketing and why businesses use it, but what are the first steps to implementing a successful marketing campaign? Before you begin a marketing campaign, there are several things you need to consider. Below are some of the first steps you should take when determining the best email marketing campaign for your business:

Determine Your Goals

Before you implement an email marketing campaign, you first need to know your goals for the campaign and what you hope to accomplish. This will help you determine what needs to be done to implement the campaign, and it can help you determine if the emails were successful. You could have one overall goal or small, incremental goals. Whichever you choose, be specific and make sure it is measurable.

To help determine your goals, ask yourself why you are sending the emails. Think of what you hope the outcome will be. For instance, if you plan to send emails in the hopes of getting new clients or customers, use that to determine the rest of the campaign. Send emails targeting new business and create content that will appeal to these people.

If your plan is to strengthen or deepen relationships with existing clients and customers, your tone needs to be different. Your emails need to reflect your existing relationship with them, and the content needs to be catered toward them. Setting clear and defined goals early on can help you easily determine the rest of your campaign and can make it more effective.

Choose an Email Marketing Software

Once you determine the goal of your campaign, you will need to choose an email marketing software that can help you accomplish your plan. You should select a service that will allow you to do what you need to do, but also will easy and simple to understand. The less time it takes for you to learn a program, the more time you can spend connecting with clients and customers.

Companies like Constant Contact and MailChimp allow users to send bulk emails, create and manage an email database, utilize a campaign management services and create customizable email templates. A majority of reputable email service providers offer free trials where users can determine if the program is right for them. This could be a cost-effective way to explore your options and determine which is the best for your business.

Build an Extensive Contact List

After selecting the proper software, you should begin thinking of who you want to contact. Your business should be adamant about building and managing an extensive contact list. This could include current clients or customers, as well as people who worked with your business in the past. Who you add to your list is determined by the goal you want to accomplish.

Even if you only have a handful of email addresses, you should add those to your database. Once you start to add more people and their contact information, you can categorize the data and create an email list within your master list. For instance, you can have categories for former clients, current clients, and potential clients. This could make the emailing process less confusing and more time effective.

Additionally, you should begin to determine how often you plan to email your contacts. Generally, you do not want to email a person too often for fear of becoming spammy. However, you do want to keep your business on the forefront of that person’s mind. Depending on your business, about two emails per month could be a good way to start the campaign.

Develop a Concise Message

Your business should look next to the content of the message you want to send. Again, this will be determined by the goal you wish to achieve. If you want to attract new clients and customers, your content should reflect that. If you are looking for a better connect with your current patrons, be sure to keep that in mind when writing the email.

No matter who the email is targeted to, you should be sure your content is original and fits within your brand. You want it to be concise and informative, but also to resonate with your readers. Adding humor or something unique to the content can help is stand out among dozens of other emails. A compelling subject line can have a significant impact on whether or not a person even opens the message.

The content of emails is unique because they can be highly personalized. Unlike social media and blogs, emails allow you to speak directly to a person. Because of this, your email communication must be used for more than simply promoting something. It should be used as an avenue to communicate with people on a different level and to establish relationships.

Conclusion

The way people communicate through email has changed, ultimately giving entrepreneurs and small business owners a new market to grow and expand their businesses. The steps above can help you determine what needs to be done to implement an effective campaign and how you can best use it to your advantage. Each campaign can vary per business and industry, but determining what is right for your business can take some time.

 

Rich McIverRich McIver is the founder of Merchant Negotiators, an online comparison marketplace for merchants seeking credit card processing services. He can be reached via his company’s Google Plus and Twitter pages.

21 5 Ways To Make An Email Newsletter Your Best Sales Tool

email newsletterNo matter how enamored you may be with social media, email still outpunches just about every tool out there when it comes to cost effective lead conversion.

Now, done correctly, what this really means is effectively using email communication in conjunction with efforts to produce educational content, amplify content throughout social media channels and turn Twitter followers into email subscribers.

It’s integration as much as anything that makes email work, but there are a handful of things that you need to do to get the most out of the email component of the mix.

Grab Attention

It’s not enough to have an email subscribe form tucked into the sidebar of your home page. If you’ve got a great offer to put in front of your visitors you need to make it impossible to ignore, without being obnoxious.

A new breed of popups makes grabbing visitor attention and turning it into email list subscribing almost pleasing. I’ve been experimenting with a rather new WordPress plugin called Pippity.

Once installed and configured this tool will note when you have a visitor that has not been offered your email subscription and briefly take over the screen to make them an offer. The visitor still has lots of control over the screen, but this tool positions your list in a way that’s hard to ignore.

I know there are some that don’t like this tactic, but Pippity gives you so much control, including A/B testing, that you can fine tune the tool’s use to make it work for you. Like it or not, with the right offer, most people see 300-400% jumps in subscribers using this kind of approach. (One tip: Turn it off for mobile browsers, as there’s no way to make it a pleasant experience on a mobile.)

Exchange Value

Giving people a reason to subscribe is even more important than simply grabbing their attention. In order to get willing subscribers these days you must sell the value of what you have to offer and most likely exchange something like a free ebook or report that sounds too good to miss right at the point of subscription.

The act of giving an email address comes with a price these days because all of our email inboxes are jammed. Your free stuff better sound as good as most people’s paid stuff if you want to get subscribers.

Of course, this also means that you need to keep the value exchange high if you expect to keep subscribers. Turning email subscribers into paying customers is not a one-time event; it’s accomplished through a process of building trust over time.

No matter what time frame you choose to offer your email newsletter, once a week or once a month, each issue should be something that people look forward to. It’s great to have a large list, but if less than 10% actually open your emails then you won’t get much return on your efforts.

Serve Snacks

I’ve been producing a weekly email newsletter just about every week since some time in 2002 and I’ve played with different formats, different content, and different ways to present information.

A great deal of what I’ve always tried to do is evolve with overall communication trends and my best advice is that you subscribe to lots of newsletters and pay attention to how others present information and how they change their presentation over time.

Currently, my newsletter format is designed to offer several compelling article abstracts grouped into a set of topics that I believe my readers expect from me. I author about 50% of the content and then hand select a couple blog posts from blogs I read that related.

When I switched to this snack sized, scannable format, I immediately noted that my response and engagement increased dramatically.

Be Sharable

Smart marketers have always employed tools that made it easier for people to share their email newsletter with friends, but these days that means making your content easy to share in social media as well.

Most email service providers have added social media sharing options that you can embed in your content so that a reader could tweet that they just read your article.

The content itself must exist online in order to use this most effectively. Most service providers also allow you to create an online archive version of your newsletter and I recommend you use this approach to socialize your content sent via email.

Go Solo

Once your readers come to appreciate your valuable newsletter content you may earn the right to send them offers. This is something that takes a little bit of experimentation and you can certainly erode trust by sending too many offers or sending offers that just don’t make sense.

While you can mix an offer or two into your regular email newsletter format, I’ve found that sending the occasional offer for a product, program or even joint venture with a product or service you truly believe in, using what is called a solo email is the best approach.

A solo email is designed to do only one thing, deliver the story and make a case for your offer. This can be a straight out offer to buy something or even an announcement for a free online seminar where you intend to make an offer, but it must be about one thing and one thing only.

Let me repeat, sending offers is something you earn, just like earning the subscriber in the first place. You must take care that you treat this trust with respect or you will lose it. Keep the value of your offers as high as the value of your content and your readers will appreciate getting both.

My recommended list of email service providers. (Each allows you to accomplish the things mentioned in this article)

21 How I Use Email Marketing

This post is part of a creative marketing series sponsored by HP

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With the advent of social media, email marketing has taken a bit of a back seat in terms of buzz – but not with marketers that understand the power this tool has for long term trust building and short term conversion.

I’ve been an advocate of this tool throughout the rise of social media and find it telling that many bloggers and social media types that have built followings online are now turning to email marketing to cash in. I don’t mean cash in as a bad thing, I mean that they have found email marketing to be a way to generate customers in this more commercially acceptable avenue.

Email marketing is a central tool I still employ for building trust, doing research, announcing new products, selling products and services, educating customers, and expanding the awareness of my web presence beyond my web site.

While there are many ways to use email marketing I thought today I would share a little about how I do it so you could have one simple and practical road map.

My email marketing routine

List building – Obviously for email marketing to be an effective play, you’ve got to possess a list. Don’t ever, ever buy one! You must build your list and you must do it by offering value, that’s it.

You should, however, employ some tools that make it easy for people to subscribe. I place a sign-up form on most pages (it’s over there in the left sidebar if you’re reading this on my blog) and I use a drop down script from dynamic drive to offer the newsletter to site visitors. I know some folks don’t like these in your face forms, but there’s no denying how much more effective they are.

I offer people a free report for signing up in addition to the offer of the newsletter and this definitely drives sign-ups. I also make a special offer to buy my books through a thank you page once someone does subscribe. This is a low cost product that I add lots of valuable bonuses to and it often starts the relationship deepening very quickly.

I also promote my list when I speak and encourage you to consider ways to build your list from your other offline activities as well.

email marketing

Image: RambergMediaImages

Getting started – I use an autorepsonder to reply once someone subscribes. I send an evergreen issue of my newsletter so they get a taste of the value right away. A few days after they subscribe I also send what feels like a much more personal thank you note from me. This is a text email that is very simple and tells them I am glad they subscribed. I get constant feedback from people that, while they may know it’s not really a personal note, love the personal feel. I suggest you adopt this tactic. (The content of the note is on page 215 of Duct Tape Marketing, you know in case you want to buy the book.)

Content – Your readership will grow and spread only if they find your content valuable. While I do send occasional product pitches, I choose to do these in solo emails (a tactic that makes the offer stand out) and choose to fill my weekly newsletter with content that I think readers have come to value. Increasingly this is snack size tips that lead them to other great resources.

Format – I send my weekly newsletter in HTML format as reading and engaging with the content is much more enjoyable in the visual format. I do also send a text version for those that don’t allow HTML and as a further tool to help get through some spam filters.

I have moved to a format where I point out a lot of great content that I’ve written or that others have written. I used to include the full content in the email, but have found over the years that people have grown very comfortable with the digest format that allows them to click through to the full content online. One word of advice, as so many people now read email online through Gmail and Yahoo make your links open in a new window so they don’t have to keep coming back to find the email. (You simply add target=”_blank” after your link in HTML code to do this.)

As stated above I use text only email when I am doing a straight pitch for a product or service offering or promoting an event. I don’t include anything extra in these emails as I’ve found that total focus on one topic, in this format, generates the highest response. (A/B testing of your emails is a standard offering in most email services.)

ESP – ESP is the acronym for email service provider. If your list is more than a dozen names you need to use a service to send your emails. There are many great, low cost solutions for this that allow you to easily create, send and archive your email newsletters, offers and campaigns. These services also help you build and maintain your list and comply with CAN-SPAM laws.

I use Infusionsoft as part it’s part of my CRM and shopping cart set-up, but I’ve also experienced good things over the years from Constant Contact, Vertical Response, AWeber, MailChimp and iContact. In my opinion any of these services will meet your needs.

MailChimp wins the award for education. Take a look at their list of email marketing ebooks.

Integration – Email is a great way to expand beyond the newsletter communication to build deeper engagement in your community. Certainly it’s become very standard to include all of the ways for people to connect with you online in your email communications. You should add Twitter and Facebook links to your emails, but also cross promote your blog content, archive your newsletter issues as web pages on your site, and promote your new issues in Facebook status updates as well. (Here’s an example of an issue of my newsletter online.)

3 Integration is the New Killer App

chainAll around us companies are innovating. New web-based applications are cropping up faster than you can count. These applications, when used as a stand alone, can make life much easier.

However, the real power of an elegantly thought out application comes when two or more application providers find ways through APIs to get their applications to work in tandem.

This is classic multiplication at work here. When one app with a fan base can start working seamlessly with another app with a fan base, all the fans win and the organizations grow exponentially through cross pollination and an enhanced feature set.

This kind of thinking is something that needs to be baked in at the strategic layer of every business – online or off.

Below are 7 examples of web apps that multiply in value when you understand how to use them together.

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20 Social Media Makes Email Even Stronger

Marketing podcast with Gail Goodman (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes

nutshellThis week’s guest on the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is Gail Goodman, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of leading email marketing service provider Constant Contact.

Over the last year or two email marketing has taken a back seat to social media in terms of buzz. However, during the recession, firms that had a solid relationship with an audience via email held a much stronger position. Email marketing still produces the highest ROI of any online marketing tactic.

Commercial e-mail returned a whopping $43.62 for every dollar spent on it in 2009, according to the DMA’s just-released Power of Direct economic-impact study—an effort the trade organization publishes every year at its annual fall conference.

A funny thing happened on the way to increased social media usage too. Instead of spelling the end to email, it actually caused an increase in the inbox. A great deal of social media activity still revolves around the email inbox.

I frequently field questions from audiences about whether social media has replaced email and I think the answer is that social media and email play very well together and, in fact, email has only become more important. Social media makes email even stronger and, when used correctly, email can make your social media efforts even stronger.

To that end, email service providers are looking for ways to help customers more fully integrate their social media usage with email marketing. Constant contact has added event marketing with plenty of social features and recently purchased Nutshell Mail a tool that brings a summary of your social network updates to your inbox in a single email on your schedule.

I spent some time recently with ExactTarget, an enterprise email service provider. ExactTarget’s purchase of CoTweet, a social media monitoring and management tool is further sign of the growing integration of email and social.

This trend will continue so while I’m a big fan of growing your friends and followers, get that email subscriber list built for the long term.

18 Event Marketing Just Got a Bit Easier

Email service provider Constant Contact long ago established their role as leader in the industry. Today they unveiled Event Marketing a tool that may prove to widen that gap.

Event marketing online has become an important piece of the small business marketing puzzle. With so much focus these days on education, publishing, and content driven marketing initiatives, it’s no wonder that in person and online webinars and workshops are all the rage. Of course, the event promotion, registration, and tracking process generally involves an additional system of some sort to make it run smoothly.

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Event creation inside the admin panel (Click to enlarge)

I feel the need to disclose that I have no affiliate, sponsor, or other relationship with Constant Contact because I want to make sure you hear this as the unbiased suggestion that it is – Constant Contact’s Event Marketing module rocks.

If you are already a Constant Contact user this is a no-brainer. Now you have another tool to help promote your events to the list you already maintain there. If you’re not a Constant Contact user, this tool is still available as a stand alone and, while there are other event tools, such as EventBrite, Constant Contact’s tool seems far more complete for the typical small business user.

The way Event Marketing works is that you create an event by filling in all the details necessary and the system builds your email templates, a registration landing page (with Paypal integration), and tracking system to analyze your event promotion results. You can send email updates to registrants and manage your event sign-up list from with the tool. The cost of the tool is based on the number of events you hold and starts at $15/mo for up to five events, a number that should cover most small businesses I would think.

There’s a nice demo of Event Marketing here and they offer a free 60-day trial.

19 Applying Drip Marketing to Your Staff

drip trainingA very effective approach to lead generation and nurturing is something called “drip marketing.” The idea behind the tactic is that you design a series of contacts, via email, postal mail, or phone, that are routinely dripped out to a prospect as a reaction, for example, to them signing up for an event. The power of this technique is that for the most part the entire process, once designed, can be automated with technology. This automation makes it easier for you to focus on other forms of engagement with the prospect knowing that they are receiving consistent touches and gentle reminders that you are there when ready to serve their needs.

I believe this same autoresponder drip marketing approach should be utilized internally as well as a way to supplement the training of staff. Small business are usually pretty bare when it comes to training. Who has time, right? Basic job functions are usually about the only thing that’s taught, but everything else that’s going in the company, important as it may be to the total engagement of the team, is often left to chance after the first day of orientation.

Why not set up a series of emails delivered over a 90 day period to each new hire do things like

  • teach important product and service features
  • share detailed information about the ideal customer and core differentiators
  • contain real live customer success stories and testimonials
  • outline the marketing plan for the coming year
  • feature other staff members and their stories

I’m not suggesting that you can use this approach to replace processes, manuals and human interaction, but even in very smallest of organizations, this type of drip training would allow you to go much deeper that you might, while helping your new team member feel much more a part of team, no matter what the job title. Remember, marketing is everyone’s job and the best way to send this message is to educate your staff as though they were a customer.

You can employ a low cost autoresponder tool such as AWeber, iContact, Constant Contact to handle the automatic delivery of your content. All you have to do is write the series of email once and then enroll each new employee as part of the hiring process.

Image credit: Steve Beger

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4 Constant Contact's non-profit partnership is a great model

I interviewed Eric Groves, Senior VP of Sales and Development of Constant Contact, an email marketing service, for an upcoming episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast.

During our visit he shared a little information about a non-profit component of their business. I share it here because I love what they are doing and because there are elements that think many small businesses could and should consider mirroring.

The program is called Cares4Kids. Any Constant Contact customer can nominate one children focused not for profit organization to receive a free Constant Contact account. It’s a simple, thoughtful and powerful approach to community building and support.

Here’s what I like about it. It helps organizations that need help. That alone is reason to like it, but I really like that it allows the customer to be the bearer of the gift and the gift is product. These two elements make up the heart of this very powerful strategy.

Find ways to help your customers do good and spread the word about your product while doing good and you’ve got a winner for all involved.