As the leader of a business, a constant concern is always increasing revenue. Of course the two primary ways to do this are to either increase the revenue current customers provide, or to increase your total number of customers. The simplest and most direct way to reach your audience, and allow them to reach back, is through online media. Continuing this 5 article series, I hope to enlighten you on the 5 most important facets of online media and how to leverage them to benefit your business.
Today we’re focusing on email marketing. If you’d like to catch up, you can catch last week’s article on social media here.
Email is one of the simplest forms of communication in use today. It is easy to use, save, sort and search through. Used by individuals and businesses alike, email is the friendly median that lies between a phone call and an IM. Today we’ll discuss how to use email marketing to grow your business. We’ll discuss some tactics themselves, as well as share some tools I’m fond of when it comes to email marketing.
Before you can discuss the details of email marketing itself, you have to have someone to send the email to. You may have a list of users who have signed up through your website, who have enrolled at events, who are sales leads your company has provided, or you may have no one; in which case you may rent an email list.
CAN-SPAM Act. Getting labeled as a spammer, or blacklisted from email hosting providers (ESPs,) is the quickest way to make sure your message reaches no one.
The most frequent question I am asked after mentioning CAN-SPAM and compliance is “Does that mean we can’t rent email lists?” The simple answer is no, it doesn’t mean that. You may still rent email lists, just be sure the broker sending to the lists on your behalf has confirmed that the lists’ members have opted in to receiving advertising messages.
Once you have an opted-in audience and a reason to email them, you can build the email itself. There are a number of strategies you can use, and they will largely depend on the goal of your email campaign. To make things simple, we’ll look at the two primary types of email marketing.
True Marketing Messages
A marketing message is akin to a direct mail piece. It will frequently have a lot of imagery, bold text explaining an offer, and may contain a coupon or link to a special offer.
A sales message is more closely related to a written letter, perhaps from a sales person. It is likely just text, explaining the product or offer a salesperson may be selling. They may include their business card (signature) as well.
Both are perfectly valid uses for email marketing, and the only different in executing a campaign is the actual creation of the email itself. While a marketing message may include a designer and copywriter, a sales message can be written by the sales person him or herself.
Regardless of your approach, you have a wealth of tools at your disposal to assist you in creating, sending, and monitoring your email campaign. I will list a few of the systems my firm uses below. Some are free (to an extent,) and others will cost you. We’ve found all of these platforms to be amazing tools that have aided our clients’ email campaign significantly.
Constant Contact – http://www.constantcontact.com – Chances are if you’ve considered email marketing, you’ve heard of Constant Contact. They offer a very easy to use interface and it is one of the most widely adopted email marketing platforms among small businesses. They make it easy to create and send emails, build a distribution list, and track the results of your campaign.
MailChimp – http://www.mailchimp.com – Mail Chimp is made by the same people behind Survey Monkey and is one of the most versatile and powerful email marketing platforms we’ve used. The basic process is simple to learn and easy to use. Those with a little bit of knowledge in the field can manipulate the system to do just about anything you want. Combine that flexibility with their comprehensive reporting tools and you’ll see email marketing make an impact for you.
JumpReach – http://www.jumpreach.com/ – If you want to build your email list and add an easy to use viral component to your email campaigns, Jump Reach is a terrific tool. While Jump Reach isn’t an email marketing platform itself, it allows you to easily incentivize (and track) your communications. An example: You run a car repair shop. You email me, and if I forward that email to 5 friends who sign up with you, I get a free oil change.
Exact Target – http://email.exacttarget.com/ – Exact Target takes email marketing to another level. Rather than email large groups, you can set up event triggers and timed emails that are sent automatically on an individual basis. Sync this up with your CRM or POS system and you’ve instantly created a platform that allows you to reach a hand out to your customers and clients one by one without the huge workload that would normally entail. The pricing isn’t cheap, but bottom line is if you use it right, you’ll generate a return.
Regardless of what direction you go in, remember the dos and don’ts of email marketing and you’ll give yourself the greatest chance of success:
- DO provide valuable content
- DO personalize your email campaigns
- DO screen your campaigns
- DO A-B test your campaigns (mix it up!)
- DO link to landing pages
- DO offer incentives
- DO make it easy to share
- DON’T overdo it
- DON’T forget to process opt-outs
- DON’T settle for any open rate
- DON’T use too much copy
- DON’T use boring subject lines
- DON’T just link to your home page
Author Chris Yoko is the president of Yoko Consulting, an interactive marketing firm that helps clients make the most of their web presence, from website development and social media to email and mobile marketing. You can also find him right here at Under30CEO.