Businesses do marketing campaigns in order to advertise themselves. In the golden age of telephony, businesses had to call customers (be it prospective or existing) one on one just to market themselves. The period after this saw the rise of advertisements via newspapers and the TV; this method, however, is much expensive. But times have indeed changed. With a much larger number of people having access to the Internet, businesses can reach many through email marketing for free. Email marketing helps businesses see instant sales from existing customers, but more importantly, it maintains and builds long-lasting relationships with loyal customers - which are the core of most successful businesses. To this day, the size of your email list is to a larger extent, a demonstration of your reach and thought leadership. However, your email marketing campaigns should be part of a holistic approach to educating your contacts about your company. Not to forget, your marketing emails need to be complemented by other efforts, such as search engine optimization, content creation, social media engagement and behaviour-based nurturing. So when reading this article on email marketing, keep the big picture in mind. In this article, I will take you through the steps necessary for starting up email marketing for your business.
Consolidating your names
You might be surprised at how large a collection you have on your customers’ contacts. The only reason why you are not surprised as of now is that the contacts are scattered. You might consider looking for the names in the different programs you have, and the various places – from your email address book, to accounting software, from handheld devices to Excel spreadsheets – not to mention all the paper sticky notes on your desk and monitor, or last year’s sales orders in the file cabinet. Consolidating your names is all about gathering names and getting them into an easily accessible, centralized location. A centralized location is primarily about their strategic storage so as to retrieve them efficiently when needed. Consider the following paragraph.
The first thing you need is an easy-to-use database program. You need a database that you can use by yourself without having some certificate in database management or a degree in computer programming. You need one that you can customize to meet your unique needs and that grows with your business. FileMaker Pro trial and the FileMaker Business Productivity Kit are examples of such cool products. They are readily available for download at this link. Having a database that contains all your names and email addresses is the key to any successful, long-term email marketing and relationship building. Filemaker trial comes with a help tutorial on how to use it or you can download a user manual of the same.
Creating a list of email addresses
Having a collection of contacts does not necessarily mean that you have their corresponding email addresses. Also, you can’t do much email marketing unless you have email addresses of people who want to hear from you and have given you permission to contact them via email. Building your own list of current customers, past customers, and prospects (versus buying names and addresses) is the best way to start an effective e-mail marketing list.
I am assuming that now you have your existing names in the database. But chances are that you have a big blank in the email address field for many of your customers. In order to fill in those empty fields you can do the following:
- Use your website, storefront, front desk, and every phone call as an opportunity to gather permission to email your customer. You will want to be enticing during the gathering process and provide something to which your current and potential customers will say, “Yes, I give you permission to send me an email.” Remember to follow the art of business seduction. A simple clipboard on your front counter or form on your website, that says “Sign up here to receive our free Newsletter via email!” will get you going.
- Most importantly, privacy. You need to develop a privacy statement that communicates to customers how your company uses their personal information. Why would one offer freely their privacy in this age of email phishing? At least assure them of your intentions with their privacy before asking for them. You should post your privacy statement on your website and make it available to your customers. You can visit privacy.org or www.truste.org for additional information and privacy resources.
Decide on Content & Frequency
It is more of a truth in the nude than a claim, that customers love it when you blend your email types. Combining a variety of content at different intervals is acceptable to most customers who have opted-in to your email list. There’s a delicate balance between too much and not enough email marketing in order to maintain and build long-lasting relationships. You don’t want every email that you send to be promotional. You want a blend of editorial and promotional communication that will help you build a long-lasting relationship with your loyal customers. In order to decide on the mix, figure out what you think will help build your relationship with current customers, win back lost customers, and move hot prospects closer to becoming customers.
Writing you mail
The aforementioned FileMaker pro is a great tool even when it comes to writing your emails. You might, however, want to consider these few points during the writing of your emails.
- Write short paragraphs and link to your website for longer articles or have customers call to learn more. If your stories are too long, only a few will read them. If the sole intent was to promote your website, then write shorter articles and then link them to the longer versions in the specified site.
- Treat your current customers differently than prospects. Make sure they feel special by sending slightly different emails to current customers as compared to your future or past customers.
- The Subject line is important. With junk mail filters on almost every inbox, be sure you’re not too aggressive with promotional terms, capitalization, and exclamations. Stuff such as those might lead your promotional email into a junk or spam box. If you have something free to offer, it’s ok to include the word “Free” in your subject line, but make sure it doesn’t end up in your customers “junk folders”
- Do a pre-test of a few messages with friends and co-workers first. Be sure that you send from a new email address, such as that hasn’t already been added to their address book.
Email marketing is a tool that needs to be mastered by every business looking forward to becoming successful. It is the only way of communication one can be sure of that any serious business uses. It is, however, impossible to educate fully on this subject matter in this article. The reader should feel free to ask any question related to this subject.