SMALL BUSINESS TIP #10: Email Marketing Tips
What is Email Marketing?
If you’re like many of my client, you’re not totally clear what email marketing is.
At its simplest, email marketing is when a for-profit or non-profit entity sends emails to a database of potential, existing or past customers. The most common purposes for emails are to:
- enhance relationships with current or past customers
- acquire new customers
- solicit sales of goods/services, donations, etc.
- advertise a sale, event, etc.
- build loyalty and trust, nurture the business relationship, etc.
- add value to existing customers by educating, assisting, etc.
- promote brand awareness
- establish expertise
- bring people to your website
- share third party ads
In the broadest (and most obnoxious) sense, unsolicited spammy emails are sent to a large list of (usually purchased) cold leads as part of an aggressive marketing campaign.
Thankfully, most email marketing content is sent to an existing database of (warmer) clients/customers who have been collected by the sender over time. This is the only form of email marketing I’ll be covering in this post.
How to Choose the Best Email Marketing Service
The platform that enables a business to send mass emails in an efficient and trackable manner is an email marketing service. As you might imagine, there are many and they vary in quality.
The top three factors to consider when choosing an email marketing service are: 1) cost, 2) ease of use, and 3) their ability to keep your emails out of your recipients’ spam folder.
Some email marketing service providers offer a free level of service and allow you to grow into a paid plan. As the internet becomes more and more settled, the free plans are become more and more basic.
Other email marketing service providers charge from the get go, usually a minimum monthly (or discounted annual) fee based on the number of total subscribers you have. Some charge only when you blast an email.
Don’t just go with the cheapest. It’s kind of a hassle to switch. Look down the road as far as you can see and choose the provider that is most cost efficient once your business has grown.
Ease of Use
All email marketing services require you to go through a bit of a learning curve, but some make it easier than others to start a list, create and design an ongoing email campaign or send out a one-time blast.
These days, there are very few inboxes that aren’t inundated — and email providers, such as Gmail, are keen to keep your inbox as free from spam as possible to keep you happy.
To do this, they use algorithms. Some email marketing services are better than others at coding their emails to avoid the dreaded junk folder.
Our Favorite Email Marketing Services
Again, you want to do your best to choose the email marketing service that will serve you best in the long-term. While it’s possible to make a switch, it’s always better to avoid this if you can.
There are lots of good email marketing services out there. Here are my two favorites for my small business clients:
- Mail Chimp—A friendly email marketing service that serves small to medium lists well. The free plan is very basic, but will work in the beginning; paid subscriptions and many other features are available as you grow.
- Aweber—A good, cost effective choice if you expect to grow your list substantially.
How to Use Email Marketing Services
There are three primary ways small businesses use their email marketing service:
- Auto responder email(s)—a single or series of emails that is automatically sent in a specific order to subscribers from the moment they sign up for your email list and at pre-defined intervals going forward. It can be a simple single welcome email or a series of emails designed to add value, educate, motivate, inspire, etc., your subscribers.
- One-time announcement—an individual email, often referred to as a “blast,” that is sent to your email list to announce a product, service, event, etc.
- Newsletters—typically sent monthly to add value, announce, educate, motivate, inspire, etc.
All of these emails should include links so your readers are steered to your website (This is why email marketing should be part of your SEO plan.
Some More Helpful Email Marketing Tips
Here are several more helpful email marketing tips to enable you to be more effective:
- In most cases, it’s best that every email come from YOU (not the company). Think first person, not third.
- Write to ONE person. Use “you” instead of “my subscribers.”
- Use the code snippets provided in the area where your emails are written to automatically fill in each receiver’s first and/or last name, company name, etc., so your emails feel more personal.
- Write in a conversational and friendly tone. Speak like you’d like to be spoken to.
- Keep the design simple. The more images and features you use, the more likely you’ll trigger the email provider’s spam filter landing you in your subscriber’s junk folder.
- Don’t inundate people with emails. People will pay more attention when your “blasts” are thoughtful and contain truly important info.
- ADD VALUE. Give your subscribers a reward for reading your email.
- Have a catchy subject line to induce curiosity. More on subject lines HERE.
- Keep your email as short and simple as possible. The bitter truth is that most people scan emails these days.
- Always link back to your website!
- Include a call to action.
- Invite your subscribers to REPLY to you. Using bold and red really works.
- Have realistic expectations about the impact of your emails and don’t take the sometimes snarky requests to unsubscribe personally. People often forget to be human when they’re responding to an email.
- If you’re on a paid plan that charges per email, you’ll want to periodically make sure your subscriber list isn’t full of bad emails. Here’s a tool to check to see if an email will “bounce”—Hunter Email Verifier (they also have a Chrome extension!)
Get Help with Email Marketing
I hope these email marketing tips make your journey into email marketing easier and more productive! If you ever find yourself in need of consultation, training and/or setup—or you decide to have someone else take care of this task for you, all you have to do is email us!
By the way, Gmail is NOT your only option for your small business’ cloud-based email. Here’s a helpful article on some other legit options—Best Cloud Based Email Services for Business!