E-mail marketing is a way to communicate with customers and provide valuable information to an interested or targeted audience. One way to reach your audience is by using an e-mail service provider (Constant Contact or iContact) who can help you automate best practices. Some of the things they can provide:
- Easy-to-use templates
- Reinforced brand identity
- E-mails addressed to the target recipient
- Management of lists (adding new subscribers, handling bounce-backs, and removing un-subscribers)
- Improve e-mail delivery, track results, and make sure your communications obey the law
Acquiring customers takes time, effort, money, and energy. On average, it takes seven touches for a sale to occur. Some buy right away, while others research and try. Building your network through e-mails and peer-to-peer sharing is the best way to get your message heard.
You can easily begin to build your lists through sales or service calls, events and meetings, e-mail signatures, in-store guest books, and web site sign-ups. Comprise these all in a customer or prospect database.
It is important to understand the types of e-mail permissions. Explicit is an opt-in from your web site or storefront. Implicit requests for information, usually through registration forms. Is you have an existing customer relationship, it’s important to always make certain you ask for permission when collecting information.
Set objectives for your e-mails. You want to promote, inform, and relate. Promote your service or business by motivating purchases, strive to increase event attendance, and inform and educate potential customers about what you do as a brand, service, or product. Explain and differentiate your business from the competition. Relating to your customers will help you increase their loyalty, thus encouraging more referrals.
Determine appropriate format for your e-mails. Use the content in your e-mails to convey a specific message, it does not have to be the same each time. Personalizing e-mails will help you develop deeper relationships with your customers.
- Newsletters: Share information about your business and industry. They can include a note from the CEO or business owner sharing some news. Newsletters usually entice the readers to click back to the web site for more information on a subject.
- Promotions, special offers, invitations, surveys: These options will encourage clicks and require the reader to take action.
- Announcements: Let your customers and potential customers know what is new, what products are coming, and what events they can expect.
- Press Releases and holiday greetings: These are timely and make your business look like it’s on top of what is happening in the customer’s life.
- Personal notes and thank you cards: This is a great way to entice customers back. Thank them for a referral or for their business.
Frequency and delivery time can vary from business to business. You should have a basic idea of how often you want to send e-mails and create a master schedule. Keep you content concise and relevant to planned frequency and the reader list you plan to send these e-mails to. Many reserachers believe that the best day of the week to send e-mails is Tuesday or Saturdays before 10:00 am. There is no perfect time for your business so a great way to find out is to test the timing by dividing your list into equal parts and sending it at different times. Keep track of the open rate and clicks then compare results. The goal here is for maximum impact with minimum intrusion!
The goal of any campaign is to get the recipient to open the e-mail. On the from line use a name the audience recognizes, include your organization and brand. Refer to your business the same way your audience does and be consistent with your format and messaging. The subject line should be kept short and simple, a good rule of thumb is to keep it to 30 to 40 characters. E-mails with shorter subject lines allow the customer/reader to see the information without having to open it, allowing them to make the decision if that is something they are interested in.
To avoid spam avoid using words like free, guarantee, or credit card. Most certainly, refrain from using ALL CAPITAL LETTERS and excessive punctuation, such as !!!, ???. Avoid using “click-here,” if you are going to hyperlink give it a description so they know what they are clciking on.
Businesses should use open/click tracking to spot trends. If open rates are tending down, fewer subscribers are clicking links or enabling images. Steady open rates assume e-mail is being received. Clicks tell you what topics were interesting and you can save “clickers” in an interest list for targeted follow-up. Lastly, when looking at goal achievement, use links to drive traffic towards conversion and compare the clicks to conversions to improve your success.