Email Marketing: How to start
Email marketing is all about building and developing solid relationships through consistent and pertinent email communications. It allows you to communicate with your prospects and customers to add value, establish yourself as an expert in your domain, and promote your products and services. However, getting someone to share their beloved email address is no easy task. People are being inundated with emails and spam, so it’s become even harder to get your message across in a sea of information.
We go over the most important aspects of email marketing, including how to effectively build your list of subscribers…
- The importance of email marketing
- Determine the emails you’ll create
- Send useful and engaging content... always!
- Build and grow your list
- Avoid the dreaded SPAM label
- Measure performance
- Comply with email laws and regulations
- Do this before you hit send
- To sum it up...
The importance of email marketing
It's important to understand that usually, the term ‘Email Marketing’ does not simply mean sending emails to individual customers or prospects through Outlook or Gmail. No no! It’s rather utilizing an email tool/platform to send out mass email communications to a large segment or group of customers and/or prospects.
There are many good reasons to start using email marketing to grow your business. The main one being that you always have direct contact with your audience without relying on social media or other third-party platforms to connect and share information with them.
Remember that these platforms can disappear overnight, change algorithms, or even close or ban your account without warning. This then prevents you from communicating with your audience, entirely. It’s always a good idea to build your own list to have a direct point of contact between you and your prospects at all times.
Determine the emails you’ll create
There are several different types of email communications you could send to your list, depending on what you’re trying to achieve (Connection VS Sales) and we recommend that you create a variety of email content as part of your overall strategy.
Here are some ways to leverage email:
- Develop story-based communications that will build the know, like, trust factor
- Create monthly newsletters to share what’s new in your company or industry
- Share free, valuable content that’s relevant to your audience, that solves a problem or removes a pain point
- Automate emails when a specific event takes place; e.g. when someone purchases a product or abandons their cart etc.
- Send special occasion emails; e.g. on their birthday (free gift or discounts)
- Offer special discounts exclusive to your list of subscribers
- Survey your subscribers to see how they feel about your business or product(s)
- Promote your products and services in order to increase sales
This brings us to the most important point…
Send useful and engaging content… always!
Determine what your ideal customer is looking for; what their pain points are, and how you can make their lives easier/better. Produce content that speaks to them, and adds value. This is key.
You should be adding more value to your list rather than simply selling to them! If you consistently add value to the lives of your subscribers, they will continue to open, read and share your email content.
If you feel like the content you’re about to send isn’t the greatest/most helpful, don’t send it! It’s better to lack consistency than it is to lose subscribers because you’re not providing anything of value to them.
Also, don’t worry about getting things right, right away. It takes time and practice to learn how to create content that sells and motivates your subscribers enough for them to take action.
Build and grow your list
The main objective of building a list, as we mentioned earlier, is to create a direct line of communication between yourself and your visitors, prospects or customers. Something ALL business owners should be making a concerted effort to do.
There are several ways to build an email list, and we’ll go over the most common, here:
- Add an opt-in link to your email signature
- Create a giveaway or contest that people have to sign up for with an email address
- Post an opt-in form on your website/blog so they can see the latest content from you
- Create a ‘lead magnet’, something of incredible value that people can sign up to receive
- For example: A PDF list of 5 FREE tools to increase sales OR a webinar/masterclass where you teach them something of value etc.
- Add sign-up links through social media channels/posts or the link in your bio
The best way to get people on your list is to consistently talk about it in your content. For example, if you want to promote a lead magnet titled ‘List of 5 FREE tools to increase your sales’ you would create content related to this offer and then ask your followers to subscribe by entering their email in order to receive it. Alternatively, you can create amazing high-value content and then simply ask people to subscribe to be notified when new content comes up through your link in bio.
The point is that you must ‘advertise’ your list in order to grow it. Do not fall into the trap of believing ‘if I build it, they will come!’
You have to promote your email list, just as you promote your products and services. However, in this case, your subscribers are getting something of value for FREE instead of paying for it. It’s an easier ‘sell’. They will more likely want to give away their email.
Avoid the dreaded SPAM label
One of the worst nightmares of an email marketing strategy is the oh-so-dreaded spam folder. If your emails end up there, it’s terrible for these reasons:
- Your subscribers are less likely to see your emails
- The more your emails are flagged as spam, the more likely emails and your account, in general, will be labelled as such in future
The easiest way to avoid someone’s spam folder is by simply asking them to ‘whitelist’ your email upon subscribing. All they need to do is add your contact to their list of safe contacts, and/or remove your initial email from their spam inbox/filters. Simply ask your subscribers nicely and why not even explain to them exactly how to whitelist. Make it easy peasy. Ask and you shall receive, right?
Other ways to avoid ending up in spam have to do with subject line text, like the use of capital letters and excessive punctuation (like exclamation marks), or words like FREE.
You’ll want to consistently monitor and measure your email marketing efforts in order to optimize future campaigns. There are so many metrics you can look at, such as social shares, deliverability rates, and even bounce rates on landing pages (where email campaigns link to).
However, the main ones to measure performance are:
- Open rate; the number of recipients who receive the email who actually open it
- Clickthrough rate (CTR); the number of link clicks within the email
- Unsubscribes; how many people unsubscribed from your email list
Comply with email laws and regulations
Another very important thing to consider when planning email marketing is that you must always follow the email laws and regulations in place where your business is located and where those who receive your emails are located. If you don't follow these regulations, your business could be subject to severe financial penalties.
Here are the main ones you should be aware of and follow:
- Canada: CASL - Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation
- Canada: PIPEDA - Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act
- US: CAN-SPAM - Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act
- European Union: GDPR: - General Data Protection Regulation
So how do you deal with so many rules and regulations from different countries!? Well, the easiest way is to combine and follow them all so you can cover all your bases, so to speak. Companies typically use this strategy when it comes to their email marketing, so they can safeguard themselves against possible penalties.
Do this before you hit send
We recommend you do the following, before you hit that ‘send’ button:
- Test like crazy
- Display your email on different devices before sending
- Use a tool like Email on Acid to facilitate testing
- Check for spelling or grammatical mistakes, or typos
- Make sure images have alt-text
- Check that all links are working properly
- Make sure your email content is relevant to your intended list
- Personalize your email subject lines or content with contact names; they do really well for open rates
- A/B test elements like subject lines or images and content within emails to give you an idea of what works best for your specific audience and/or niche
- Use a familiar sender name so they know it’s you (and not some random spammer)
Inevitably, there will be times when you hit ‘send’, only to feel your stomach drop as you see a glaring mistake on your screen. It happens to the best of us! Don’t stress though… if it’s a silly mistake, you can simply ignore it. However, if it is a bigger issue like sharing the wrong date/time or another important piece of information, you will have to send a follow-up email to correct the mistake.
To sum it up...
Email marketing is a strategy that allows you to build relationships with both your prospects and customers. From offering free value to selling your products and services, it’s also a powerful way to grow your business (and sales) over time.
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