Email marketing is one of the best and most cost-efficient ways to grow your business and gain recurring customers and sales, and opens a unique oportunity to connect with an audience that’s already shown interest in your promotions. Here’s a complete guide to email marketing, and 7 Tips to Jump-Start and Improve the Results of Your Campaigns:
Why Email Marketing is King
According to a Harvard Business Review called “Why Email Marketing Is King“, a sent promotion email will in average generate $15.71 in sales. Another research done by Econsultancy and Adestra shows that 66% of marketers rate email marketing ROI (Return on Investment) as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’, with 8% of businesses achieving more than half of their sales through this channel.
These are absolutely stunning rates of return, virtually unparalleled in any other available marketing channel, particularly for those starting an online business.
Still, you need to know that email marketing is only beneficial when it’s done well, and can be detrimental to your brand if executed poorly, leaving your company with loads of disappointed readers and customers. But don’t you worry, I’m going to show you how to get started on the good side!
What exactly is Email Marketing?
Broadly speaking, email marketing includes every commercial message sent via email to your website readers and business customers. It’s a direct marketing channel that communicates your content directly to the end users, skipping on other advertising channels.
If you carefully craft the content in your newsletters to provide value to your subscribers, email marketing will help you drive greater traffic to your website, engage with your readership, introduce new projects, promote offers, build strong relationships and establish trust, which are truly essential assets to an online business.
If your audience trusts you, they’ll pay attention to your recommendations, and based on them, potentially take the desired actions that you want them to take.
So let’s see how to get started with email marketing and what it takes to improve your campaigns’ results:
1. Select the Right Email Marketing Service
Unless you’re going to email just a small group of subscribers, using your personal email client simply won’t cut it. Trying to manually design, manage, and analyze an effective email campaign is virtually impossible without the appropriate tools.
An email marketing service helps you collect subscribers’ names and email addresses, create messages and newsletters to be sent to these people, track the results of your campaigns, and so on.
To select the provider that best suits your needs, compare their creation, scheduling, and reporting features, but more importantly, pay attention to the systems’ deliverability rates, which represent the percentage of emails that actually reach the end users.
Aweber is my tool of choice when it comes to email marketing. It’s comprehensive features as well as great user-simplicity makes it the ultimate tool for email marketing, whether you’re an established businessman or a complete newbie. Check out my full Aweber review for more information.
2. Make it Easy for People to Subscribe
Once you select an email marketing service, you can start building your mailing list. First create a call-to-action web form where your website visitors can leave their name and email address if they want to subscribe to your newsletters and company blog. You’ll also need to send them a confirmation email with a link they should click on to verify their subscription.
It should be very easy for people who visit your website to subscribe to your emails. The most visible positions for the subscription form, with the highest conversion rates, are right on the top of the sidebar and at the bottom of every blog post, since the people who’ve read through your whole content are most likely to want to sign up for more of your valuable insights.
A great way to increase your opt-in numbers is by offering something exclusive in exchange for subscribing. This can be a short ebook, a report, a 5-day email course, free consultation, or software to download, depending on the industry you work in. Whatever you choose as an incentive must be valuable for your readers, to encourage them to take the step.
We all like freebies, and signing up for a newsletter seems like a small price to pay for something we perceive as valuable. Include an image of the gift in the subscription form, and promote it in the headline as well.
3. Choose a Template or Design Your Own
Most email marketing services come with attractive and fully customizable pre-built templates, and the option of designing your own. Since the templates allow you to quickly and easily drag and drop elements, add your own content, links, images and videos, there’s not much point in trying to “reinvent the wheel”, right? Check out this list of free email templates for small business marketing.
But if you want to challenge your creativity and create something unique, make sure the design is appealing, readable, and visually easy to navigate.
Keep in mind that often less is more, and the simpler your template is, the better it will translate from one device to another.
Did you know 66% of all emails are now opened on either a smartphone (47.2%) or tablet (18.5%), while PC email opens are down to 34% according to Movable Ink’s 2014 report.
4. Decide Your Email Marketing Goals and Send on a Regular Schedule
Same as with any other aspect of a successful sale, you first need to define what it is that you want to accomplish, and then build your content and email marketing campaigns around those goals. Why do you send your e-mails? Is it because you want to deepen your relationship with your audience? Do you want to educate your readers on something?
Decide these aspects, and work out a longer term regular schedule of your emails, so you can plan your content and activities better and improve your conversions, especially around your business’s top seasons, specific product launches, expos, and other events relevant to your audience.
Having a regular schedule is especially important when sending newsletters, as your consistency gives subscribers something to look forward to. Weekly newsletters are considered a standard procedure around the Web. Select an optimal day in the week, and make sure to send out your emails at approximately the same time.
5. Make Connections, Build Relationships
The size of your email subscribers list is important, but to be honest, it means absolutely nothing without a responsive audience. If people don’t like or see no real value in the content you send out, they’ll simply ignore your messages, or choose to unsubscribe. After all, they already got the freebie they wanted, right?
As always, quality content is what keeps readers interested and engaged with your brand. Also, make sure the content of your messages is easy to read and digest, no matter the device your readers are on, or how much time they have. Use subheadings, bulleted lists, shorter paragraphs to make your material more scannable.
- Create an auto-responder in your email marketing software to send out a welcome email to every new subscriber. Remind them of why they’ve subscribed to your emails, introduce them to your newsletters schedule plan, include some helpful information, and add a link where they can download their gift.
- After a couple of days send your subscribers another email with valuable and useful content, like a free web-tool they can benefit from, or a how-to guide to solving their problems.
- The following week, send another email with helpful piece of content.
It’s these first few emails that set the tone of your communication and help build initial trust between you and your website readers. Only after would you be able to send sales pitches without off-putting your subscribers. Most emails should contain 90% value and only 10% proposition.
Bonus tip: Don’t forget to include a link to your Facebook, Twitter, and/or G+ account in each email you send, as well. The more avenues of engagement you have, the better off you are. Read how social media helps promote your business.
6. Slowly Begin to Introduce Promotional Messages
After building a solid relationship with your email subscribers, you can start introducing some recommendations and promotional messages of your products and services, affiliate offers, etc. If people are still here and interested, they’re probably ready for them.
Just make sure you do this with moderation, as too many messages saying ‘Buy! Buy! Buy!’ can really put off your readers. Send one commercial for every two or three content messages. If your subscribers start feeling like you’re spamming them and they’re not getting any value, they’ll unsubscribe and probably leave you forever.
7. Track and Measure Your Results
You can only learn and improve your email marketing campaigns by tracking and analyzing the results of your previous efforts.
Most email service providers allow you to measure every important aspect of your campaigns – open rates, click-throughs, conversions to purchase, – which later you can split-test to pinpoint where are your customers in the sales cycle, what content they seem to be interested in, what works and what doesn’t, as well as improve your response rates.
Keep in mind that the main goal is to build long-term meaningful relationships with your current and potential customers, not to get spectacular immediate results. Email marketing is more like a marathon than a sprint race. So look for trends over a longer period of weeks and months, not just on an email-by-email basis.
Some businesses are loath to start using email marketing because they confuse it with spamming. But the truth is, this is just a marketing tool, and a pretty good one aswell. What actually makes the difference is the way you use the tool – do you send out top quality newsletters relevant to your subscribers, or do you spam and annoy your readership?
What are you’re thoughts and experiences?
Do you have any thoughts and/or experiences on email marketing? Are you currently subscribed to a reputable company blog or website? Or maybe you’re familiar with utilizing email marketing yourself? What positive or negative experience can you share? Please feel free to drop me a comment below.