So, you're all set to start web-based email marketing campaigns for your own business. Great news! You're on your way to rapidly expand your business, increase sales and gain new customers.
Email is one of the best marketing tools available for small businesses, and it's a great place to begin an advertising strategy. The beauty of web based email marketing is that it can start very small, localized and at a grass-roots level, and as your business grows, it does as well.
We want to assist you as you learn how to do email marketing. Here's a simple step-by-step plan to help you plan, develop and launch your very first email marketing campaign!
1. Research Email Marketing
- Find the best examples of email marketing and campaigns you like. View everything from a customer perspective. What do you see or read that would make you want to purchase or subscribe? Also, be sure to look for anything in the marketing emails that would cause you to delete the email without a second thought. Huge images, spelling mistakes, emails with a large amount of text... Take notes on the good and bad email tactics that stand out to you.
- Determine what type of initial email works for your needs and products (call-to-action, promotional, etc.). Think about what your intent is. What do you want the customer to do when they read the email?
- Figure out who your competitors are locally, nationally and internationally and whether they're using email marketing. If not, you have an advantage and you can be more visible than your competitors and provide your customers with more: personalized promotions, reminders of important dates and more. If your competitors are using email marketing, then your customers will already be familiar with this marketing tool and will be excited about your new email newsletters.
- (Check out our email marketing blog for more awesome tips to get you started!).
2. Strategize: The "To Do" List
- Outline what you want out of your email marketing campaign (drive website visits, online sales, in-person sales, gain new customers). Whatever you want customers to do, base your email around that. You need a clear and prominent call-to-action (such as "Sign up for the Class!" or "Try for Free") that is near the top of your email, so that it commands readers' attention.
- Assign an employee who will be the email marketing "champion" on your team. He or she will work with other staff members to create campaigns and decide how and when they will be distributed.
- Draw up an accurate financial picture and determine how much money you have for email marketing. Don't worry if you don't have a huge email marketing budget. You can still do email marketing for free or for a low cost through many online email marketing programs.
- Based on your email marketing budget, figure out how much specifically you have for a web-based email marketing system. You should review different programs that allow you to do email marketing, to see which ones best suit your needs and budget.
4. Interview ("Interview" Potential Software Systems)
- Figure out what level of software you need from your budget (professional-grade, free or open-source are the most common choices). Even if do you get the free email marketing software, you can sometimes get add-ons for a small cost that allow you to do more with the program.
- Outline what features you're looking for in a system. If you're looking to do targeted email marketing campaigns, for example, you will need a program that allows you to easily segment your customers into smaller groups. If you want the ability to test similar email marketing campaigns against each other to see which one works better, you will have to look for a program that includes A/B split testing.
- So how do you decide which email marketing program is right for you? Test out 2-3 of your top email marketing software choices through "free trials" (run away from any system that doesn't offer a trial).
- Explore and play with software features. Learn how to create messages, how to do sending and how to check your email marketing reports, if the software offers reports. (And a good email marketing program should.)
- Select your top software choice. Let the email marketing begin!
5. Test Your Email
- Set-up testing email addresses at Gmail, Yahoo!, AOL and Hotmail (try XYZcompanytest@gmail.com). By having email addresses in different email services, you can test how your email marketing campaign will appear to your customers. Customers use all different types of email service providers, and emails may display differently in each service.
- Send your draft email to those "dummy" email accounts. Review how it looks in each different account. Are there any issues with the text, links or images? Also, remember that your marketing email will be sent to a promotional email folder in some cases, such as with Gmail. Use this fact as a challenge to encourage yourself to craft an excellent subject line and find an ideal time and day to send.
- Send your email internally to different operating platforms (Windows, Mac). Emails will also often display differently depending on what internet browser is being used, so be sure to check it with different browsers.
- Are there any compatibility issues with your draft and different email systems (Mac, Gmail)?
- How many emails were delivered?
- How many emails ended up in junk?
- How many emails never made it at all?
- Where there any image problems (images didn't load, etc.)?
- How did your email look?
7. Launch Your Email Marketing Campaign!
The only thing left to do now is to analyze the data that you will receive. It is extremely important to review data from all email marketing campaigns because it allows you to see which marketing techniques work and which do not, as well as how customers respond to your marketing emails.
If, for example, there is a huge jump in unsubscribes after a particular email marketing campaign, you need to figure out why. Did customers find it offensive? Boring? Did they think it was spam? Keep a close eye on your email marketing reports and use the data to optimize your future email marketing campaigns.