Is email marketing still a viable marketing tool?
Email marketing is often reported as second only to search engine marketing as the most effective online marketing initiative. Studies show that 89% of internet users are sending or reading email and there are no signs of that number declining. Some activities—like photo sharing and status updates—are now separated out into other applications, but email still remains the one online communication tool that everyone understands.
In the U.S. almost half of Internet users check or send email on a typical day, with email blasts that are delivered between 1 am and 5 am local time outperforming those sent at other times in open and click rates.If compared to standard email, direct email marketing produces higher response rates and higher average order values for e-commerce businesses.
Setting up your first email marketing campaign
Depending on the client there can be a fair amount of reconnaissance required to set up an effective campaign. We understand how overwhelming it can be to small business owners so if you’re not ready to hire someone like us, at least there are some pearls of wisdom we can share with you. It’s important that you understand why Email Marketing is good for your business and that research and planning on Email Services Providers (ESPs), professional designers, and strategy are what will build success. We’ll use that as the jumping off point.
Consider who your target market is. You need to find positive ways to encourage them to subscribe to your newsletter. Some ‘capture’ strategies are more successful than others.
Here are a few very preliminary ideas to get you started:
- Remember, you want to send your news and promotions to people who are actually interested in your products/services. Wooing people by offering free products and rewards for signing up may sound like a great idea; but, then you need to weed out the people who only signed up to get something for free (in actuality, they may have absolutely no interest in your services/products). Perhaps, try offering a reward that is somehow related to your business offerings — you may get a better result.
- The next time you are at a networking event, and in conversation with someone genuinely interested in your services/products, ask them if they would like to receive your email newsletter. If they say “yes”, make a note on their business card and send them a follow up after the event. Remind them of who you are, and suggest they whitelist your Email sender address. It’s a good idea to make a note of which services/products they were specifically interested in so you only send relevant news their way.
- Include a call to action on your website letting people know how they can subscribe to your newsletter. Include information like frequency of sending, topics, and why they should subscribe. Most importantly, include a form asking for their name and email so they can subscribe easily.
- Include a call to action on social media. For example, you could include a subscribe form right on the landing tab of your Facebook page. Send tweets with a link to a subscriber landing page.
- Anytime you have personal interaction with your target audience; i.e., workshops or seminars, look for opportunities to connect with others. Mention your Email newsletter when it’s appropriate. You’ll be surprised at how many people say “yes, please sign me up”. You could even have a form available for people to provide their information.
The first question people will ask is why should they subscribe to your newsletter? You will need to have a well thought out value proposition which we will talk about in a later article.
In the meantime, during the subscriber ‘capture’ process always remember the following:
- You must have permission from people to add them as a subscriber to your email campaigns. Besides, people are more likely to open and read the information you are sending if they were interested enough to subscribe in the first place. Always make it easy to unsubscribe if at any time they no longer value the subscription. In fact, having an unsubscribe link in your campaign is the law.
- Each of these subscribers is using a different Email Client. Not everyone uses the same email client that you do. Examples of email clients would be Outlook, Gmail, SquirrelMail, and Yahoo. Your Email campaign may look great when you open it in your Outlook account but that doesn’t mean it looks the same for someone using Hotmail or GMail. Different Email clients process email campaigns differently. The email service provider (ESP) you use should allow you to test your campaign design in the various email clients before sending. You should also always include a link to a web version of your campaign.
- Ask subscribers to whitelist your sending Email address. That way there is less chance the campaigns will go to their junk mailbox.