Using Email Marketing for Your Business, Part 1
Email marketing is quickly become one of the fastest ways to reach customers and potential customers, however, to utilize email marketing effectively, you have to know what to do – and what not to do to avoid ending up in someone’s spam folder. The email messages that you send to your co-workers, friends and family are not at all the same as a marketing email – at least, they shouldn’t be. Email campaigns should be well thought out and planned in advance of when they will be sent. Testing should be done and analytics should be setup to collect data on the behaviors of recipients. There are a myriad of steps that go into creating, deploying and analyzing a successful email marketing campaign. Here are a few important steps you should take before you launch any email marketing campaign:
Identify The Need for an Email Marketing Campaign
You need to have a clear cut reason why email is the best way to reach your target audience. Not sure who your target audience is? Read this post. If email isn’t going to yield the results you want (or any results for that matter), it’s best to spend your time and money on another marketing medium. If you’re using email to boost, say a direct mail campaign, make sure that the email coincides directly with the direct mail piece. Whether it’s going to be launching with a direct mail campaign or sent out as a standalone blast, make sure that it’s thought out and that the purpose for your campaign is clear.
Develop a Plan for Your Email Campaign
Just like you would any other marketing effort, you’ll need to create and fully develop a plan for your email campaign. Start by determining what the requirements and goals of the message are going to be. Conversions? Website visits? Purchases? You’ll need to know what you want the recipient to do if you want to measure the success and effectiveness of the campaign. Your message should really only have ONE main goal – having multiple goals for a single campaign defeats the effectiveness of the campaign and may not give you the desired results. If your email marketing campaign is to be coordinated with a mail piece, make sure the offers are the same on both the email and printed piece to avoid confusion with either campaign’s intent.
Once you’ve determined the requirements and goals for your campaign, you’ll need to figure out what your message will say. If you’ve got a printed piece that the message will be coordinated with, this part is easy. Or, at least, easier. If you’re creating a standalone email, you’re probably creating it from scratch, or from a pre-established template. Taking into account the medium and the fact that you need the recipient to actually open the email to help you reach your goal, you’ll need to make sure that the subject line and pre-header text are attractive and do not contain any wording that could be construed as spam. Being marked as spam is the polar opposite of your goal for this message, so you should avoid it at all costs. The best way to do this, is by optimizing the subject line by coming up with a subject that would make someone want to open your message. You’ll have to know more about your target audience to really find a subject that would make them want to open your message. Perhaps, it’s a subject line that shows urgency (“Last Chance: 20% off until Friday) or something bold (“Weekend Plans? We’ve got you covered!”). There are many other ways to appeal to someone’s need to open your email. Celebratory, sincere, joking and eccentric subject lines can all appeal to the right audience. Your pre-header text is the text that you see before you open the email, that appears under the subject line. This text should also appeal to the recipient and should both encourage them to open the email as well as coincide with the subject line. Without these two important parts of an email marketing campaign, your message could end up in spam.
Lastly, you’ll need to create your layout for your message. Your layout should be responsive; it should be appealing on whatever device your recipient views it on. As a general rule, most people will first view an email on a mobile device; over 60% of emails viewed are viewed first on mobile. Make sure your layout is attractive as well as responsive so that the recipient will want to read all of the content within it. Include an offer and make it appealing; make it something that people will react to and make sure that there’s a clear call to action within the email. Ensure that there’s an online version for those who can’t view html emails (which this should be) in their email client.
This is a lot of information and perhaps the most important part of crafting an email marketing campaign. You should know, by the time you get to the creation of the email’s layout, what email marketing service you will be using – Mail Chimp, Constant Contact, iContact or some other email service. Whichever email service you choose will have a bearing on template creation and layout, list maintenance and send analytics. Choose your service wisely as some offer more than others, but at a price. Some offer free accounts up to a certain amount of recipients, while others charge by the send. It’s important to do your research and choose the service that fits your company’s needs without breaking the bank.
Stay tuned for Part 2 where we talk about setting up analytics and what to expect for results from your email marketing campaign.