How to do Email Marketing in 6 Simple Steps

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If you’ve been running a business for any period of time, there’s a good chance you’ve thought about how to do email marketing.  If you haven’t, or are just starting a business, you should be setting yourself up for success as soon as possible.  Email marketing is a tool you simply need to be utilizing.

Because it has been around for so long, some think email marketing isn’t important any longer.  Or maybe they see the mass number of emails every day in their inbox, and think it’s not worth all the noise.  But think again, because email marketing consistently delivers the best acquisition rates when compared with other advertising mediums.

Just check out these statistics from Salesforce.

Email Marketing ROI
Source: Salesforce.com

Their numbers show an average $38 ROI for every $1 spent, which is pretty darn good.

And while we can’t disagree that a lot of spam that comes through email, try to think about the companies you do trust, and do open their emails.  Those companies get to have a direct conversation with you, and build relationships with their customers on a regular basis.  They also have the ability to communicate things like product launches, new versions, updates, discounts, and so much more.  So email marketing not only provides the ability for you to build relationships, it also translates to sales.

Build Your Email List

Let’s start with the obvious grunt work of actually building your list.  First, DO NOT buy a list.  Buying a list is simply going to land you in hot water with ISP’s, you’re email marketing provider, and ultimately the people you’d like to be customers.

Building an email list takes time, and can be difficult, so you need to offer something of value.  A simple popup box, or form asking for an email just doesn’t work these days.  Just think about how many times you’ve given a company your email address without getting something in return.  And no, the latest addition of a newsletter doesn’t cut it.

A couple of ideas you can consider to entice someone to opt-in are free giveaways or discounts, an e-book, additional content on a subject, or a whitepaper.  Find a larger list of ideas below.  The key here is giving the user something they truly value, and can’t get elsewhere.  If you’ve done a good job analyzing the pages on your site users visit, then you already know some of their interests.  Create additional resources and content around these known interests and offer them free access along with their sign-up.

If you don’t have a lot of data yet, take a shot, and see what sticks.  This is a long-term process, and not everything you try is going to work, but you can improve your conversions over time.  As the data and trends start to build, it will become easier to build your list.

Here’s a few more ideas on ways you can build an email list.  Some of these are easier than others, but don’t be fooled by anyone who says there is an “easy” way to build a list.  It will take work and commitment regardless of the strategy you choose.

Email Marketing List Building Ideas

Create a giveawayRun a competitionDiscountsBuild a great blog
Website exit popupGuest bloggingBuild an online communityUse social media
Comment on other blogs and forumsAccess to upgraded contentCreate an e-bookHost an event

Effective Communications and Marketing

This is key no matter what medium you’re marketing in these days.  Because there’s so much content out there to be consumed, nothing but quality content is going to draw in new customers.

Start with an effective title to your email since the most important thing is to have people open it in the first place.  MailChimp has a great article on the words and phrases that generate positive open results, and also negative.  Also in this article, Mailchimp shows how to use their cool subject line researching tool that can help you figure out how effective certain keywords are.

Mailchimp subject line research tool
Source: Mailchimp.com

Once you have someone interested in what you’ve sent, then you need to deliver within the email.  Your email should have a good mix of content, from written, to imagery, and even videos.  You will find templates to help guide you through the creation of many emails at the major email marketing companies.

Lastly, make sure you are addressing a topic that users care about, and signed up to receive.  Point them to valuable resources of yours, and don’t be afraid to recommend other businesses or experts in a field.

Email Consistency and Predictability

Email marketing has a lot to do with consistency, and predictability, which ultimately meets your customers expectations.  When advertising your email sign-up, it’s your job to be clear what you’re going to deliver.  The clearer you are, the more likely you are to get a sign-up.  Then you have to follow through with that commitment.

If you told the user they were signing up for weekly emails, but are sending them daily, you’ll be in the spam bucket in no time.  Same thing if someone is expecting to get informational emails about a certain topic, but you’re trying to sell products on an unrelated topic.

This sounds easy, but it takes dedication over an extended period of time to deliver this predictability.  Set a strategy, and commit yourself or an employee to ensuring you follow through.  Your relationship with customers will improve, and sales should follow.

Segmenting Your List

The idea of email list segmentation is breaking up your larger list of emails into smaller more targeted groups.  This allows you to serve people with information they really care about.  If you give people targeted information, you’re going to increase click through rates, and decrease the number of unsubscribes from your list.  By segmenting a list, you can control messaging to certain groups of people who only have an interest in certain topics.

Email Marketing List Segmentation

No question I’ve been signed up for email lists that I truly valued, and for a time served me great information on services or products I care about.  But it’s also very common (even for large companies) to start to abuse those privileges.  That’s natural as a business owner because they want to sell their products, and customers will accept that for a while, but when they realize there’s nothing of value anymore, it’s just a matter of time until they hit the unsubscribe button.  It’s either that, or straight to the trash, and either way you get nothing out of the effort.

If you own a site about cooking, and someone signed up for a list you’ve generated about Italian cooking, resist the urge to convert them to your email about France as well.  Deliver what they asked when opting-in to your list.

Yes you can send the occasional email seeing if an engaged customer is interested in another product.  You can also mention your other products, generally towards the end, of an email they requested.  But your regular communications should focus on the main topic of the list they opted into.

Keep your Email List Fresh

Making sure you have a clean list of emails can save you time and money.  Depending on what type of plan you are paying for, you don’t want to pay to send emails that aren’t good anymore.

Even if they are good, you don’t want to send people information they no longer care about.  If you haven’t sent an email to someone in a long time, it can lead to a lot of people reporting your email as spam, or unsubscribing from your list.

In this case, it’s much smarter to reconfirm the users desire outside of whatever email provider you are using.  You can do this by simply sending them an email, and asking that they sign up for you list again.  Remind them of the benefits they once got, and new ones you intend to deliver.  No doubt, this is going to trim down an email list by a large percentage, but at least you’ll know the people care to see what you’re sending.

Use Auto-responders

These can be a valuable part of your overall email marketing strategy.  Most of you have probably seen an auto-response right after a purchase, or opting in to an email list.  But that’s not the only time you should consider using them.

You can use an auto-responder to send emails over a set period of time on a targeted topic.  In this case it’s almost like you are walking your customer through a class, but not all at once.  Assuming you are providing valuable content, this is a great way to build trust in a potential customer.

Marketingsherpa did a survey that shows how organizations currently use auto response technologies.  Think about all of these, and get creative with other ways to engage your customer on a regular basis.

Email marketing autoresponder uses
Source: Marektingsherpa

It can take some time to set up your auto-responder strategy, but it can save you effort in the long run.

By taking advantage of these capabilities, you can interact with your customers over days or weeks, with emails you have already created.  This can help to increase the engagement of your potential customer, and ultimately increase your conversions.

The Bottom Line: Email Marketing is Critical

Growing an email list and then keeping people engaged is really all about content.  The best way to grow is to offer your site visitor access to truly valuable content they can’t get elsewhere.  Heck, sometimes they can even get it somewhere else, but if your “free” content is good enough, they want to hear your take on the topic anyway.

An email list won’t grow overnight, and it will certainly take time to hone successful strategies.  Test out a number of different offers, and see what works best.  Then continue building and refining those strategies as a matter of continuous improvement.

The numbers are concrete that email marketing is a great way to build relationships and ultimately make sales.  While it should not be your only marketing technique, it should absolutely be one you devote significant time to.



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