16 Dec 2013

Email Marketing for your Business

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Email marketing is probably the complete online marketing method. Now that opt-in for newsletters and special announcements has become standard; there is a significant benefit in nurturing your email lists. These are people who want to hear from you when you have something new to share.

Collecting email addresses
Before you can start an email campaign, you need an email list. Using your website to collect email addresses is a great way to get real leads and build a permission-based list. When you are first starting out, I recommend creating your permission based list rather than purchasing a list. Permission is key - when you collect email addresses be clear about what you intend to do with the email. And don't assume that someone who has given you a business card has also given you permission to put them on a mass mailing list.

Setting up a Newsletter
Newsletters are an excellent email marketing tool. You can create custom content for your newsletter, or you can create a newsletter out of weekly or monthly blog posts. A weekly or monthly digest of your blog posts can be used to get the post revisited and read by people who missed them when first published. Most email service providers also offer a variety of professional templates as well as the option to customize completely the email and newsletters you send. The idea is to send periodic newsletters to the people on your lists, making sure you use the right content to the right audience.

Benefits of an email service provider
There are many email newsletter services nowadays; MailChimp, ConstantContact, and iContact to name a few. Most of these systems have similar features and pricing models but what they have in common is the ability to send mass emails while not getting blacklisted as spam generators. I have to mention this since I have come across customers wanting to send emails to thousand of recipients from their personal email accounts. It is something I strongly advise against; not only will your internet provider prevent you from sending to these many people, but you can also run the risk of getting your email address blacklisted.

Tracking and reporting are another great feature of tools like MailChimp. You can see the open and click rates. This kind of feedback allows you to optimize the content to suit better your audience’s needs.

Respecting your audience
Being able to send emails to people that are expecting them is a powerful marketing tool, don't abuse it. Send too often and recipients will unsubscribe. Best practice is to send your email campaigns regularly and on the same day each week.

Just like on the other systems, MailChimp allows for managing multiple email lists. I recommend creating lists that target customer’s needs and your sales cycle. For example, the content you send to a potential customer is likely different than the information you need to send to an existing customer.

Great content gets opened and shared
Just like visitors to your blog who share your good quality posts, your email audience will do the same with informative and problem-solving, well-crafted emails. Good quality content goes a long way; this doesn't mean everyone will open your emails, far from it. If you are getting an open-rate between 20% and 40%, that is a good average. To increase your open rate, you can test different subject lines. MailChimp even has a Subject Line Suggester.

Mobile friendly emails are essential
Mobile versions for your email campaigns are as important as your mobile website. The rate of people opening emails on their phone is rising; not surprising since checking emails on a mobile device is easier and feels more natural for the small screen. Therefore, the emails you send need to display well on mobile, and all the links you include in it (most should back to your website) should open mobile friendly web pages.

Summary
Having an up to date list of opt-in email subscribers has significant benefits for any business, but only if you target them with emails that they want or expect to receive. This email should be rich in content and link back to your website, also, remember to provide links to your social media presence in the different networks. It could prove beneficial for increasing your followers and expanding your audience.


While you are at it, join my email list

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