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Whilst social media and search engine optimisation have been grabbing most of the spotlight for some time when it comes to online marketing, email is still an extremely effective marketing tool for small businesses.
Email marketing is a vital tool for small businesses who want to send regular marketing messages to its customers and prospects, why? It’s inexpensive, effective, immediate and measurable!
Not only can email marketing help small businesses to build relationships with their customers and prospects, but it can also drive traffic to your website, integrate with your social networks as well as generating leads and give your sales a boost.
But these results will only be achieved if your email marketing is done right from the start.
So if you are thinking about introducing email marketing into your marketing mix, here are my top tips to help get your email marketing campaigns off to a good start.
#1 – Plan your email marketing campaign
Before you get started you need to ask yourself, what do you want to achieve from your email marketing campaign? Do you want to increase sales revenue, generate business leads, improve customer retention, build brand awareness or drive more traffic to your website? A clear set of objectives will make it easier for you to measure the success of your email marketing campaigns.
#2 – Get permission
To ensure that you are compliant with Data Protection legislation, make sure that your email marketing is permission-based. This means that you need the customers consent to contact them.
#3 – Build your database
To build your email marketing database, collect your customer email addresses at every opportunity, add a sign up form to your website, include forward to friend/colleague on email marketing template and use your social networking sites to invite subscribers. Remember, you need to give incentive for people to sign up. This could be a free report, advice booklet, a short video presentation or a ‘welcome’ email for all new opt-ins. As part of your email sign up form, don’t just say ‘Sign up to our newsletter’, instead use wording that shows value. For example, tell people that by signing up they will receive free advice, discounts, special offers or other relevant content.
#4 – Design
There are now many email marketing services available to small businesses to help you design email newsletters (with easy to use templates), manage your subscribers, integrate with your website and social networks, and to track results. Many of these services are free or offer affordable price plans. Examples of Email Services Providers include Mail Chimp, Constant Contact and Newsweaver. When choosing an email marketing services provider, check that they have good deliverability rates so that your emails get into your customers inbox. And don’t forget that increasingly, people are opening up your e-newsletters on their mobiles, so ensure that your design is compatible for mobile.
#5 – Subject line
The subject line is arguably one of the most important elements of an email marketing campaign. It is the first thing the recipient will see and will have a major influence on whether or not they will open and read the email. It is therefore important that you get it right! Make sure your email marketing subject line is short, relevant to the content of the email and spell-checked, and to ensure it gets through spam filters, avoid the use of exclamation marks, currency signs, CAPS and words such as ‘free’.
#6 – Call to action
Make sure you include a call to action in every email marketing campaign you send. For example you could invite customers to call or email you to arrange a free consultation, agree to attend an event or download a report.
#7 – Links
Drive traffic to your website by including links in your email to relevant content such as blog posts, reports or information about your products or services. Use Google Analytics to set goals for the campaign and monitor the number of click-throughs and conversions.
#8 – Relevancy
Relevancy is key – sending the right content, to the right person, at the right time. You can significantly increase the success of your email marketing campaign if you tailor the content to different customer groups.
#9 – Testing
If you want to improve the performance of your email marketing campaigns, you can run what is called an A/B split-test. This involves sending slight variations of your email to different customer groups. For example, this can be used to find out what’s the best day to send your email? What time? and What subject line works best?
#10 – Measurement
Once the email marketing campaign has been sent out, find out how many emails were delivered and opened and which links customers clicked on within your email. Use this information to improve your next campaign. Manage your subscribers by monitoring bounced emails and new subscribers. Some email marketing service providers can tell you who opened and read content – this is valuable information for further segmentation.