A Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing
Yes, we all get bombarded with emails, both from people and companies we know and those we have never heard of. Whether you welcome them or consign them immediately to the recycle bin, don’t let that stop you from sending out your own company emails. It doesn’t matter if you have ten clients or thousands, emails are an invaluable way to build up relationships with new and existing customers.
So if you’ve yet to take the first tentative steps to sending out emails to your customers, here’s a simple guide to get you going.
Step 1 – Be clear on why you are sending your emails?
Emails can be used to reconnect to old customers, build a relationship with prospects or new customers, for sales promotions or news updates. Who are you sending them to and what are you trying to achieve by doing that? Having a goal in mind will help not only to write the email but to measure its success.
Step 2 – Choose an email marketing service.
First rule – you can’t send email campaigns from outlook or whatever mail server you use. It’s clumsy, unprofessional, you can’t monitor it and above all, you’ll probably get your email account blocked.
Services such as MailChimp, GetResponse and AWeber are ideal for beginners as they come with a free version to trial, along with existing templates and drag-and-drop builders for an easy to use software for beginners.
Step 3 – Build your email list
Before adding any contacts to your email list, ensure you have the right permissions to send them email marketing messages and always provide the option to unsubscribe in every email. That’s why services like mailchimp are great as they automatically do this. You can review the UK laws on email marketing permissions here.
If you are creating your list from scratch, a question I’m often asked is who can I add that I already know. My advice is that if you use a service that includes a clear opt-out, then you can mail your existing / past customers. When it comes to people you’ve met through networking – strictly speaking, you shouldn’t be mailing them without having gained their permission first. And you shouldn’t be mailing a cold list of contacts unless you have gone through some service where you have bought a bonafide mailing-list.
If you have a website or social media, you can gather opt-in email subscribers in a variety of creative ways. Simply posting “enter your email for updates” isn’t going to get anyone excited. Incentivise them to provide their email addresses in exchange for one of the following:
- Exclusive content
- Free Downloads
- Email Series’
- Free White Papers or eBooks
- Update Lists (New Issue Notifications, Product Updates, New Releases)
It helps to be really clear when asking for an address. None of us like spam so tell them what they will get when they give you their email address. How often will you email them? Will they get discounts? Will you send them relevant offers or more junk?
And if you sell online, don’t forget to integrate some form of registration or email subscription as part of your purchasing process.
Step 4 – What to send
Your email could take many forms – a newsletter, a promotion, an announcement, an invite, a survey.
If you are doing this for the first time, keep it simple and punchy. People don’t have time to read realms of text. My advice would be to provide some form of a teaser to wet their appetite, with a read more link to your website. After all, the aim of the email is to build relationships / get more business so you want to get them to your website if at all possible.
In terms of look and style, the email marketing services have drag and drop templates to help you design your own email. Try to align your style and tone with your website or any other company branding you may have.
If your list is large enough or diverse enough, you may want to consider segmentation so you can target each group with a more relevant message. For example, welcoming new customers versus trying to rekindle past custom. Again, the email services will allow you to set up multiple lists and send different emails to each.
When to send – It’s hard to be general on this. Might be worth a bit of research for your target market. Obvious but if you are business to business, then stick to the working week hours and the reverse if you are marketing to the public. Avoid early morning and late nights. Perhaps try it at different times and see what works best for you.
Step 5 – Measure and analyse
The beauty of using a mailing service is that they provide detailed analysis on who opened the email, who clicked on links, who bounced, who unsubcribed and so on. Look at the analytics. Understand the campaigns that worked well. Ensure you clean up any emails that bounced. And most importantly, be aware of whether you got any new business or contacts from sending out the email. Learn from your mistakes and don’t be afraid of just having a go. Yes, you may annoy one or two people but you also may gain a lot of new business as a result.