ins and outs of email marketing

Before you start email marketing, let me ask you this. How many times do you check email per day? Is it during scheduled intervals, or every time you receive a notification? How many email accounts do you manage? Is it necessary for you to respond to emails quickly? Are you a small business owner who receives form submissions or online orders? I ask these questions to highlight how many times you may check your email, or in my case…how many times I check several different email accounts. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…the “inbox” is the most visited place on the internet.

We all get emails from family and friends, business emails, promotional emails, social media email notifications, junk and spam emails. We get email verifications, calendar invites, newsletters and more…to our inboxes. The point I’m making is, most of us likely spend more time reading, replying, forwarding, deleting and composing emails than we do searching and web surfing. Social media usage and text  messaging are the only other activities that equally use a bunch of time.

According to Inc magazine, the average worker could spend “30 hours a week” checking email….sheesh.

All of that was the introduction to this blog post about email marketing, and how to start doing it. I was trying to make you aware of not only how often you may check email, but also how often your potential clients check email.

What To Know About Email Marketing

As a business owner, non profit organization, entertainer, public speaker or even politician…email marketing should be included in your digital marketing strategy.  I’ll review the basics about email marketing and a few tips you can implement.

The most important thing about email marketing is the email list. Who are you sending to? Why are you sending to them? Did they subscribe to your list? Are they interested in what you offer?.

Email List Management

Management of your email list is key to well performing email campaigns.  Your email list should be dynamic, meaning it is constantly changing. Obviously you want it to increase with active subscribers, but you also want to segment them and remove bad email addresses. 

List Building

Adding new legit email subscribers who have an interest in what you offer is the main objective to email list building. The strategies used to actually build the list will determine how effective your list is.

  • Form Submissions. If your website allows users to communicate with a contact, quote or consultation form, adding a checkbox to allow users to opt in will increase legit subscribers. 
  • Guides/eBooks. Downloadable documents like guides and ebooks are a great way to increase subscribers. Create a great piece of valuable content and allow website visitors to download it by subscribing. This also works if you offer coupons and specials. Simply, make them accessible with a successful email subscription. 
  • Purchased Contacts. I’m not a fan of buying contacts, however it can work, if they’ve shown interest in yours or similar products.
  • Personal Contacts. If you’re anything like me, you have hundreds of saved contacts. Export them and import into your email platform. Personal contacts will open the email which will increase your open rates. It may lead to more business. It will definitely increase your email open rate, which will help your overall performance.

*Cheat Code…set the email platform to use your email address…contacts that have already received email from you will likely make it to the inbox, instead of a promotional folder…or worse, a spam folder.

List Segmentation

I’ve seen too many email accounts that didn’t leverage list segmentation.  If your business has a bunch of different products and/or services, you may need to send segmented emails. 

For example, if your business sells clothing, email marketing should be a huge part of your digital marketing. The list of contacts could be segmented into different list like;

  • customers last 90 days (include recent purchase)
  • customers total
  • shareholders
  • employees

Once all of the contacts are segmented, you send very direct promotional offers, employee news, etc… As customers continue to shop, adjust the email list for current segmentation.

Email Scrubbing

What is email scrubbing? Ugh…just one of those necessary steps, especially if you purchased the list of contacts you’ll be sending to. This is when you check the validity of the emails you’re sending too. You want to make sure the emails are real people and confirm that it is still active and can be delivered. I recommend scrubbing email accounts at least every quarter.  

I use a service called BriteVerify to scrub emails. They charge 1 cent per email.

Email Marketing Platforms

There are a bunch of email marketing platforms to choose from (I’ll speak about the platforms I’ve used before). The key for most effectiveness is to use a platform that syncs with your current CRM. Frankly, most CRMs will offer some type of built in email functionality. 

email marketing platforms

The logic is simple. Any current customers, previous clients, people who’ve received quotes, or anyone affiliated with the company should be in the CRM and definitely on the email list…preferably segmented by their optin source.

  • Mailchimp is my platform of choice.  It’s extremely easy to use, packed with powerful features and low cost. It’s perfect for most beginning email marketing campaigns.
  • Constant Contact may be one of the oldest and most known email marketing platforms.  Similar to Mailchimp, its fairly simple to use, however the dashboard is a bit outdated and clunky.  
  • Hubspot is here whenever you are ready for the big leagues.  The features and automation are unmatched. The ability to sync with all marketing channels while being your CRM, and grow your business is the main benefit.  Save some paychecks first though.

Email Automation

Automating emails is extremely effective when done right. Especially if, you are a retailer with lots of repeat business, an entertainer with a solid fan base, or a media outlet. The previously mentioned platforms all offer some version of email automation (Hubspot is definitely more catered to segmentation and automation). I’ve seen restaurants, entertainment venues, and various organizations all benefit from sending automated emails.

The key to good performance with email automation is simple. Provide strategic messaging and ensure it is crafted to compliment your sales process.

Have you ever heard of a “drip campaign“? This is an automated email marketing strategy that sends a specific email within a series, to a specific person once they’ve met a certain requirement. The goal is to use a series of emails to generate a sign up, membership, high end purchase…whatever the objective is.

When considering email automation, ask these questions. How many average touch points are in your sales process? What information do you need to qualify someone as a potential client? Do you have any freebies you can give away to qualified individuals? Will the entire transaction happen online, or will you need to meet up with the customer? Answers to these types of questions will help you create the right messaging and visuals within the automated email series.

Email Campaign Design

The design and layout of your email campaign affects the performance in several ways. Obviously, a well designed email gives a great impression of the company, and will increase engagement if the email is opened.  Unfortunately, well designed emails are also a clear sign to email accounts that its promotional and it will likely end up in a promotions folder. How many of you actually check the promotions folder? I do periodically…

Truthfully, the design of the email should be driven by the content, and the type of business you have. The frequency that you send emails should affect what content is included, and how.  For example, do you include the entire blog post, or just an excerpt and read more button? Do you provide all the event details in the email, or do you link to the ticket website. Consider the actions you want email subscribers to take when they receive and engage with the email.

The platform you choose will have templates that you can customize to fit the messaging.  Having a great understanding of your content and what message you want to display will allow for better flow within the email campaign.  How much content are you including. Your company may have new products, additional services, company news, updated contact information, community involvement, coming events and much more.  Yes, all those things should be sent in emails to clients and supporters. No, they shouldn’t be sent all at the same time.  

Sending Mass Emails

Once you’ve built your email list, segmented the contacts, identified which platform you’ll send from, and designed the campaign, it’s time to schedule some emails.  Content, business industry, and amount of contacts really determine how often you should schedule and send emails.

Monthly Emails

Monthly newsletters work great as a way to inform everyone on the email list about news, upcoming events, and other company related topics. They make a great monthly touch point to remind customers, previous clients, members, and fans about your brand and service.

My experience has seen the best response to monthly newsletters when sent Friday afternoon, near the 1st or 15th, for obvious reasons.  All companies can benefit from a monthly newsletter. 

Weekly Emails

If you are marketing a religious organization,  school, healthcare facility or other industry with frequent events and changes, you could benefit from sending weekly updates.  These updates would include things like worship times, revivals, health fairs, book drives, campus events and more. A church email list would work well when properly segmented. You could create specific messaging for members, staff, affiliates, ministers, whomever. Send them a weekly or biweekly message.

Daily Emails

Most small businesses and non profit organizations won’t need to send daily emails. It can become intrusive, and lead to users unsubscribing and spam reports.  However, if your company is in the entertainment, retail, news, sports, or other industry with frequent events, updates, and products…daily emails could work. I get daily emails from radio stations, ESPN, Amazon,  marketing websites, and a few others. 

daily email marketing screenshot

The moral of the story is, start building a list and sending emails. If you’re already sending emails, step it up and use segmentation and automation. If you’re interested in starting email marketing, hit the contact page.

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