Email Marketing 101: Everything You Need to Know

With so many digital marketing channels available today, you may be wondering if email marketing is still relevant. The answer is a resounding YES! In fact, email is still one of the most effective marketing channels available. Email marketing is king for one good reason: it has a higher ROI than other marketing strategies- digital or otherwise.

Still not convinced. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about email marketing, including why it’s still such an effective tool and how you can get started.

 

What is Email Marketing?

First things first: let’s define email marketing. Email marketing is the process of sending targeted, personalized messages to a group of people with the goal of promoting a product, service, or event.

Email marketing campaigns can be used to achieve a variety of objectives, such as growing your database, driving traffic to your website, increasing brand awareness, or generating sales. No matter what your goal is, email marketing can help you achieve it.

When done well, email marketing can be an extremely effective tool—but only if you understand how to use it properly. Read on for everything you need to know about email marketing, from developing a strategy to executing campaigns that get results.

 

Why Email Marketing Works

Now that we’ve answered the question “what is email marketing?” it’s time to discuss why it’s still such an effective tool—even in a world filled with social media and other shiny new marketing channels.

One of the biggest benefits of email marketing is that it’s highly personalized. Unlike other forms of mass communication like television or radio advertising, emails allow you to address your audience members by name and share messages that are directly relevant to their interests. This personalization helps build relationships with your customers and prospects, which in turn leads to increased sales and loyalty.

Emails also offer businesses a way to stay in front of their audience on a consistent basis—something that’s becoming increasingly difficult as people’s attention spans get shorter and shorter. With an email list, you can stay top-of-mind without being intrusive or overwhelming.

And perhaps most importantly, unlike some other marketing channels (*cough* social media *cough*), email gives you complete control over your message and your audience. You decide when and how often to reach out, what to say, and who gets to see it. There are no algorithm changes or unforeseen issues that could derail your plans; when you send an email campaign, you know exactly what will happen next.

Where do you Start?

Well, you’ll need a customer database for starters.  Basically, a list of past customers names, and email addresses that you want to send email campaigns out to. If you don’t already have a database, you need to start one with what you have.  Do you have business cards from past clients, or past transactions that would have their email information? Begin by building a database in an Excel Spreadsheet. If you have access to their home address in addition to their email address, that’s great! Now you have two ways of communicating with them. Email campaigns, and depending on your business industry, you have the option to use snail mail as well!

If you are not currently collecting client names and emails as they shop with you, then start doing that ASAP. Most POS cash registers have a place to enter clients name and email address. If you have a smaller unique business and have a paper form receipt, then add the email option to the form. If you have a website, you can add a button that says, “join our email list” and begin collecting names and adding them to your spreadsheet. Soon enough you’ll be building a decent list of client names and emails addresses.

Asking for the customers birthday is another avenue to capture from a customer when asking for their email address. You would need a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system in place to flag you weekly regarding upcoming birthdays. And then you send a personal birthday email with a special coupon to use on their birthday. It’s a very nice way to show you care about them and thank them for their business. And this is what it’s all about. Nurturing your customers and keeping them happy.

 

Basic Rules Of Email Marketing

Please understand the basic rule of email marketing- your list of past clients who have done business with you and have given you their email address is considered someone who has “signed-up” for your email marketing.  While you technically can send emails to consumers and other businesses that are not subscribed to your list, there is a fine line to follow when sending “cold emails”, so tread lightly and work with an email marketing expert whenever possible. Always be sure to include a link so they can opt out at any time.

Setting Up an Email Platform

The most popular platforms are Constant Contact and Mailchimp. Mailchimp has a free account if you keep you list under 2,000 addresses. It gives you a chance to try email marketing without any monthly fees.  Once you add more than 2,000 addresses, you have to choose a monthly paying account which allows you to add more addresses and enjoy some better features like customer support. It’s a great place to start!

Set up your account and upload your email list, include first names if applicable, and choose from the many templates available. Then design your template with your promotion, special offer, open house and create a template that can be replicated, and used again, and you just switch out the past message with your new promotion. You can add links to your website and share buttons to social media.

Having A Marketing Plan For Monthly/Weekly Emails

It’s really important to have a plan for sending out email campaigns to customers. You want to stay in touch with them, but you don’t want to annoy them with too many emails. Right? Don’t you get annoyed when you make a purchase from an online store, and they blast you with two emails per day?

The entire point of a business sending out emails to customers is to keep them, not have them opt out. With that said, come up with some ideas as to why you should email them about your business. Do you have weekly or monthly sales discounts? Or do you have a new product to let them know you offer? Maybe you want to stay in touch with customers to offer them rewards, or VIP shopping specials for email customers only.  So, now you have a plan in place to send a reasonable amount of emails out per month with a good solid reason to show them your special offer or offer valuable information.

 

How Else Can You Drum Up Business With Your List?

I always say if you’re sending out a marketing piece have it serve at least three purposes. Include what is your current promotion, or hey- we have just moved: new address, and come to our grand opening/or new product line etc. You get the point which is “one” email campaign, several messages within it. And always include a “sign-up for our email list” button so recipients can forward to a friend so they can sign-up to receive your emails.

The good news is that there are endless avenues to obtain more business via marketing campaigns. Most people want to hear about a discount, or cool new product or just valuable information where they are captivated. So, get creative with providing the best experience for you customers. Here are a few examples you could try, as always, businesses and industries vary, so keep on brand with your overall content and promotions.

Referrals- Asking for business referrals is a number one priority for any type of business. The old adage of “all my customers are from referrals” is an ultimate goal, right? Well, you won’t know unless you ask for their help! It doesn’t have to be the main subject for the campaign, but it could be at the bottom of the page and read like: “We love having you as a customer, and it would be our honor if you would refer a friend to shop/work/hire us.” And have them forward the email to friends that would like to “sign-up for their email campaigns. It’s just as easy as it sounds.

Share To Social Media – Always include social media icons with links at the bottom of your email campaign, as well as a “Sign-Up Here” button. These feature are readily available in the MailChimp platform. It allows the viewer to click on the link, log into their social media account, and share your email campaign. And their family or friends can easily sign-up to be on your mail list. Bingo! Now you’re list building.

Adding Website Links- With just a click someone can open your email and click on links that you include and go right to your website and purchase a product or sign up for a free consultation of your services, learn about a new product or new service or class you offer. The sky is the limit here.

Monthly Raffle Prize- Depending on your type of business you can offer a fun raffle prize that can be redeemed instore or online shopping. It’s a great way to offer a fun email in addition to other emails that just ask for business and promote products. Everyone likes a little freebie email.

Coupon & Rewards- Some businesses like restaurants or garden centers will offer a discount after a certain dollar amount of purchases and will email you what points you’ve earned and how to redeem them. Eventually they earn enough for a fee dinner or shopping spree. Keep them coming back folks!

 

Analytics Helps You Improve Your Campaigns

What’s great about email campaign platforms is the analytics that track performance of the recipients who open your email.  Tracking the analytics after you send out your campaign include how many opened the email, how many times did they open that email, what time of day did they open the email, who clicked on which link to your website and how many times did they click a link, or who shared the email to social media, or to a friend, and who opted out. This is all very useful information.

The analytic reports are a great way to learn information about your list and how you can use that to improve your content for instance, what time of day is better to send it out, should you have a split list that goes out at different times etc.  all of this information can improve your open rate and customer interests. There are many options and valuable information to gain by taking the time to improve your message to your customers and potential clients when you use the email platform to your advantage.

 

Big Question: Should You Hire Someone To Manage Your Email Marketing Campaigns?

I’m sure you are wondering about all these great rewards regarding email marketing campaigns, but wow, this sound like a full-time job!  And it can definitely be considered a job. But the question still remains, who’s going to do all this work?

You?

Hire an employee who is an experienced marketing specialist?

Or hire a marketing agency?

They say to be successful in business you need the standard three positions: the owner/entrepreneur, a marketing manager, and an accountant. Whenever the owner tries to be all three positions, you can guarantee two will fall short. Typically, when your busy with actual customers or business, you don’t have time to market your future business. And when the business slows down where you actually have the time to market your business, again, two positions fall short. Income stops and now you’re a marketeer without current business. Most business owners are good at what they do- which is manage their business. Just like some people are good at generating sales, but they are not designers or marketing specialist.

Which is better to higher an employee to handle marketing and some administrative work in house? Or higher a marketing agency to handle your marketing.  It’s ultimately what will work better for your type of business. An employee comes with having to pay taxes, and unemployment insurances, holiday pay, sick time and vacation pay. While a marketing agency needs to be simply paid for their services.

Conclusion:    Hopefully this article has convinced you of the merits of email marketing and has given you some ideas of how you can use it to achieve your business goals—whatever they may be. From growing your database to increasing sales, to keeping your customers happy, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish with a well-executed email marketing campaign.  You can always start small and see how it all works and decide when it’s time to delegate email marketing to someone you trust. So, what are you waiting for? Get started today! Your future audience is waiting for you!

Need some help getting started? Contact us today to speak with an email marketing expert.

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