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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 To some, the idea is outdated and social media is considered king for appealing to customers and clients.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.


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.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Email Marketing.

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.

How to Clean Up Your Data Wasteland

thumbnail 9.2We live in a data-driven world. Even our most basic activities—like exercising and sleeping—have become subjects for tracking and analysis. With constant access to apps and technology that gather detailed information about our lives, it’s easy to become inundated with information that we don’t know how to allocate.

The same is true when it comes to gathering data about our digital marketing campaigns. We have a wealth of tools at our fingertips to discover some pretty great insights about current and potential customers. But if we aren’t intentional about the way we gather and organize that data, we’ll end up in a dreaded data wasteland with scattered information that can’t be put to good use.

So how can you best collect and manage your data to inform your marketing efforts? Here are a couple places to start:

Create an automated data machine

Your top priority should be to ensure all your marketing tools are working together seamlessly. Doing just a bit of legwork before launching a campaign can help you automate your data capture and organization.

Here are three steps to turn your data wasteland into a data wonderland:

#1. Set up lead attribution.

Attributing your traffic sources through UTM parameters can help you gather important data about where your leads are coming from. Adding unique tags to your URLs lets Google automatically track your precise traffic sources (i.e., organic search, paid search, social, etc.).

In the end, this gives you great insights about which traffic sources are driving your best leads, and it allows you to better allocate your marketing dollars.

#2. Set up tools that provide deeper insights on leads.

Syncing tools like Google Analytics and Google AdWords to the marketing tools you’re already using can help you systematically capture useful information about your lead generation campaigns. If you integrate with these powerful tools, priceless information can be sent to your accounts automatically when someone converts.

Google Analytics can help you monitor various aspects of your marketing campaigns—from form conversion rates to traffic sources. And Google AdWords can help you determine which keywords are driving your highest and best conversions.

#3. Set up tools that automate lead data transfer.

Taking advantage of data transfer automation can save your team a lot of time. Integrating with customer relationship management (CRM) and email marketing tools that automatically accept your lead data and campaign analytics can help you keep your data organized and actionable.

Integrating with CRMs like Salesforce and HubSpot allows you to keep your sales lead information updated in a central location. And integrating with email marketing software like Emma and MailChimp allows you to keep your email lists relevant with little effort.

Make your data actionable

Once you’ve done the back-end work to automate your data collection process, the next step is to use your data to take action. Making data-informed decisions about where to put your marketing efforts can help you better nurture prospects and leads and convert them into customers.

Here are three steps to make good use of your collected data:

#1. Segment your audience.

Examine your data for ways to segment your collected leads into groups. This will allow you to craft more customized engagement and upselling strategies based on your audience segments.

Consider grouping more engaged leads together and sending them a monthly newsletter. And for those who’ve had minimal interaction with your brand, consider creating a group for a drip email marketing campaign.

#2. Create personas.

Use data you’ve collected about customer behavior to create your ideal buyer personas. Defining your personas can help you tailor your content, landing pages, offers, and other marketing collateral for maximized customer acquisition and retention.

When building your personas, make sure to include information about demographics, background, top pain points, and solutions you can provide.

#3. Pinpoint ideal customers for testimonials.

Pay attention to any data that points to a successful customer or highlights positive customer feedback. This data can be used to identify customers for testimonials or case studies.

Testimonials and case studies can boost marketing and sales efforts because people love to hear true stories about how you helped someone else succeed or solved a similar problem for another business.

headshot 9.2Chris Lucas is the Vice President of marketing for Formstack. He is passionate about setting the vision for Formstack’s marketing department, as well as discovering new ways to drive web traffic and leads. Follow Chris on Twitter at @chris_c_lucas.


How to Convert Leads at the Bottom of your Sales Funnel


photo credit: Dollar Photo Club

Studies show that email marketing still converts, but many businesses are failing to convert prospects in their email sales funnel. These leads have already expressed an interest in your brand, so it’s not difficult to reach them.

Here’s an action plan to help you dive deeper and rise to the surface of your prospect’s inbox.

Problem #1

Your email is not personalized for the prospect.

The fix? Analyze the Conversion Path

Identify what motivated the client to join your email list in the first place and capitalize on that data.

Just as marketing strategies are built around buyer personas, it’s possible to segment your email list using persona data as well. Google Analytics can track new email subscribers, and tell you which landing pages are associated with new email subscribers. Already using Google Analytics? Log into your account, scroll down to the Goals section, and find out which landing pages are associated with email newsletter sign ups. Visit Analytics Help for more information on set-up and troubleshooting.

Action Plan

Use those landing page topics as the topic for your emails. While you can’t go back and get this information if conversion tracking was not set up, it’s never too late to start. Set it up, and use the information as a guide for the veteran subscribers. Once you’ve identified the most common topic that draws new subscribers in, focus on that topic to re-engage your email audience.

The next step? Create subject lines that are engaging and irresistible, centered on that very topic. Use tools like to expand on the subject, and offer readers engaging, helpful information that will encourage them to click through and take the next step toward becoming your client or customer.

Problem # 2

You’re sending emails at the wrong date and time.

The fix? Use the Data, Often.

Optimize emails for open rates, click throughs, and conversions.

Action Plan

Commit to sending emails only within those time frames that yield the most opens, click-throughs, and conversions. Every time a new email is sent, opens, clicks, and conversions should be analyzed. For example, does the beginning of the school year affect your open rate? Perhaps your prospects are getting an earlier start on their day, and your email timing will need an adjustment. Regular, consistent analysis can give your team the key takeaways needed for ongoing success.

Here’s a sample of email marketing tools that can help you manage this task:

  • MailChimp offers a “send time optimization” feature, so you can implement and test using your list as a source of information.
  • gives a very granular report on the best days to send emails, and drills down into data such as the best day to send an educational email vs. an actionable email.
  • If you’re looking for some alternative suggestions to the status quo, Vertical Response offers some thoughtful suggestions.

Problem # 3

You’re not giving them the right CTA.

The fix? Use the data.

Look at the sales and customer service cycle of your best clients. Did they speak with a salesperson prior to making a purchase? Did they download a free white paper? Did they take advantage of a free trial, and interact with your sales team? Once you’ve outlined the path of your most valued clients, duplicate that path in the form of CTA’s for your email subscribers.

Action Plan

Give them the right step in the conversion path, something more than “visit our website”. Give them the ability to set up an appointment with your team right in the email. Check out or TimeTrade.

Unsure of the right CTA? Research your testimonials. Which part of your service or product is often the subject of your client’s delight? Work that item into a juicy “subscribers only” offer that involves something for free, at a discount, or give them access to an exclusive beta launch.

After reading through these three main problems and their corresponding action plans, do you see a common theme?

9.29 b

photo credit: Dollar Photo Club

Data is your friend, and you don’t have to be a data thief or ninja to get it. There is a lot of talk about “big data” and “data analysis tools” in the content marketing space right now. Don’t get distracted by the hype, you probably have access to all of the data within your current toolset. Capture the attention of prospects that have drifted away from interacting with your brand by using the valuable data that is available, and experience true conversion optimization within your email campaign.


9.29 cMarkelle Harden serves as a content manager at Get A Copywriter and creates Resources for businesses that are chipping away at their content goals. Connect with her team on Twitter or LinkedIn.


7 How to Be Everywhere Through Marketing Automation Magic

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Jan Marciniak – Enjoy!


photo credit: Jiuck cc

When marketing your business you have a lot of ends to meet. Your goal should always be to systemize your marketing campaigns in a way that their success is repeatable and the process can be carried out by almost anyone. And since you do not want to do the same work over again and again you need to implement processes and systems that automate the technical and operational parts of your marketing efforts as much as possible.

1. Automate Lead Generation, at least a little bit

To automate the lead generation process would be a dream come true for every business. This step is the one where mostly manual labor is necessary. But you can systemize the processes that you need to go through in order to create a new lead generation campaign or landing page on your website and test it so that it is almost automated.

Reduce your time spent from the first campaign idea to a finished landing page by using tools that allow you implement quickly and change settings with ease.

In order to test out ideas for landing pages and their variations you can use tools like Unbounce or LeadPages to create a landing page from an idea within minutes and implement it without any programming knowledge. With their built in analytics you can easily see what works and what doesn’t.

On the backend you will need some kind of email marketing automation tool that lets you automatically segment your leads depending on the source.

2. The Mother of Automated Marketing – Perfect Email Marketing Automation

Email marketing is one of the most powerful but mostly overlooked marketing tactic that can be automated to almost 100%. It seems like everybody knows that having a newsletter is important. But what about an automated series of emails that give the recipient value, draw him closer to your brand and eventually make him buy your product?

You will keep potential customers engaged and informed over a period of weeks or months  without any extra investment of your time, 100% automated.

Services like aweber or mailchimp can be used by anyone without any technical knowledge; self-hosted tools like sendy need some technical knowledge to set up but are a lot cheaper.

3. Automate you Social Media Activities and Appear Everywhere

Like with any other marketing efforts you need to find the right balance between automation and manual engagement with your customers. In order to create an efficient social media marketing process you need to have the right automation tools.

You need to set up an automated system so that you do not need to post your message to every social media platform available. Instead you should use a service that lets you post to all services at once. You can use services that are designed exactly for that like buffer or create your custom social media distribution process with automation tools like zapier or ifttt.

The rest of the time you will need to monitor your social media activities, which can also be automated pretty easy. There are several tools to manage your social media analytics. With tools like twittaquitta where you can monitor all your unfollowers you can easily get insights into you social media campaigns without doing any manual analyzing.

4. Active Customer Communication in a Fraction of the Time

Communicating with your customers is a vital but time consuming task. There are however processes that you can implement which streamline customer communication. You will still need to actively communicate with you customers, but will be able to do it in a fraction of the time and have time for other important things.

Instead of repeating email texts over and over you should use text expander programs (Lh Texter; TextExpander). With a simple shortcut you can insert repetitive text blocks into your mails and save a ton of time.

An extensive and regularly updated FAQ section on you website will also save you a lot of typing and trouble.

5. It does not Stop with The Campaign – Automate you Analytics 

In order to fully automate your marketing efforts you will also need to have an automated analytics process. For many tasks a combination of Google Analytics can be used. By creating custom events for your relevant tasks you can get a fully automated report for every landing page or email campaign that you send out.

All tools that you need are out there, mostly free. Start setting up your marketing machine today to reap the benefits in the time to come. 

Portrait_JMAJan is the co-founder of TempoTrac time tracking, an application that helps you get your work time under control and blogs on business, social media and productivity hacks.

5 Steps to an Email Newsletter Your Customers Will Love (and share!)

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Amanda Cook – Enjoy! 

Email Newsletter

photo credit: flickr

“It’s time to write your email newsletter.”

Quick – what’s your first reaction to that statement?

If you’re like many small business owners, you’re filled with a sense of dread, an urge to procrastinate, and the thought “no one reads it anyway – shouldn’t I work on more important things?”

Many people create an email newsletter because they’ve been told that it’s good for business – but they don’t really believe it – and it shows in their emails!  If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, your customer can tell – and your email subscribers will be less engaged and responsive.

A successful email newsletter requires a shift in thinking.  Instead of just telling your customer about your latest sale and some random article you wrote because you should include an article in your newsletter – reframe your email newsletter as a way to engage with your community.

People are busy.  They’re not going to see all of your social media updates, and certainly won’t remember to check your website regularly.  But they did opt-in to your email newsletter because they WANT to hear from you.  They believe that your business can help them solve a problem or get better results.  They just want to hear from you in the right way.

Steps to Creating a Successful Email Newsletter

  1. Go Pro with your email newsletter.  To quote Steven Pressfield, the first step is to decide to “go pro”.  That means using an email service like Aweber or Mailchimp (never sending from your personal account!), only sending to people who opt-in for your email newsletter, and setting expectations up front about how often you’ll email (Daily? Monthly? People want to know what to expect.)
  2. It’s not about you.  This is the #1 most important step for a successful email newsletter. Stop thinking about what you want to sell – and instead, step into the shoes of your customer.  What is she doing this week?  What problems is she facing? How can you help?  Your newsletter needs to be relevant and helpful to your customer.  Yes, it can include offers, but it needs to be linked back to how it’s going to benefit her.  When you get this right and create a truly useful, relevant email, you’ll see your customers engage with you and even forward it to their friends!
  3. Make it scannable.  How much time do you spend reading an email?  Probably only a few seconds before deciding whether to read deeper or hit delete.  Combined with the fact that many people check email on a mobile device, and you need to make your emails easy to scan with bold headlines, sections and bulletpoints.  You might test emails that simply contain a teaser with a link back to your latest blog post, rather than including a long article within the email itself.
  4. Make it actionable.  Make it easy for your customers to take action on your email newsletter.  What do you want them to do?  Buy something? Read your blog post?  Forward it to a friend? Share it on social media?  Decide on the 1 call to action for your email, and make it easy for them.  Include action phrases like “Click here to read…”  Don’t be afraid to mention (and link) to your call to action several times within the email.  Many people won’t make it through your entire email, so don’t save it until the last line!
  5. Write a good subject line.  You know headlines are a key part of a successful blog post – well subject lines are the email equivalent – but they’re even more important!  If you have a boring subject line (“June Newsletter”, anyone?), your customer will delete the email before they even open it!  It doesn’t matter how fantastic your content is – they’ll never see it if they don’t like the subject line.  You can learn what makes a good subject line by studying headline copywriting – but in the end, you need to test and experiment to see what works for your email list.  You can also use the split-testing functionality in your email service provider to test several subject lines for the same email content to see which gets the most opens and click-throughs.

Rather than seeing your email newsletter as another marketing item to check off your list – reframe it as a way to connect with your potential customers.  If you approach your email newsletter as a way to show customers how you understand their specific challenges – and can offer helpful tips, resources and products to overcome them – you’ll see your engagement and responsiveness increase.  And you’ll find writing your regular newsletter gets easier when you see it as a key way to engage your customers, rather than simply promote your products.

Amanda Cook_sqAmanda Cook is an online strategist, certified holistic health coach, and host of the weekly WellpreneurOnline podcast.  Each week, Amanda interviews successful entrepreneurs about how they’ve grown a healthy business – online.  She also runs a free 5-day blogging challenge to fill your blog with content your ideal client will love (and share!)  Connect with Amanda on twitter.

21 How I Use Email Marketing

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

[polldaddy poll=”4379569″]

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 website.

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.)

8 What do your HTML emails really look like?

Mail Chimp Email is still the killer app, no matter what folks, including me, predict about RSS and the like being email’s demise. Using email as a marketing tool is still very effective, it’s just gotten harder to do. (When I talk about email for marketing I am only referring to legitimate, opt-in email that people have asked to receive.)

Email marketing has become increasingly difficult because email inboxes are flooded with lots of legitimate mail and lots of junk so getting your customer or prospect to pay attention to your mail has become more difficult, but that’s really only half the battle.

A growing challenge for emailers are aggressive spam filters (I use them too, but they aren’t perfect) and countless mail readers with special quirks each unto their own, causing your HTML emails to look funny or not render at all. There are lots of great email services out there that can help marketing send great looking HTML email that gets delivered, gets opened and gets tracked. I like iContact, SwiftPage, Vertical Response, Constant Contact and MailChimp just to name few. It’s a bit maddening at times though because they all seem to do one thing or another really well.

All of these services work very hard to understand the spam filters, help fight spam and help you get your mail delivered. MailChimp recently added a very cool feature called the Inbox Inspector. This add-on, fee based, tool allows you to run your proposed email campaign through the actual filters used by the leading ISPs, get very accurate spam scoring and a snapshot of how your email will actually render for AOL, Outlook 7 or a host of other email clients. The service is available whether you send your email through MailChimp or not.