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How to Get Started with Opt-In Email Marketing
Even though some people might refer to it as the fanny pack of the online marketing world (I think it’s more like the mini-van), Salesforce.com’s recent acquisition of ExactTarget for $2.5 billion dollars should send a strong message that email marketing is here to stay. Whether Salesforce.com acquired ExactTarget for its email technology or something altogether different doesn’t matter. To those in the know, email marketing remains one of the most effective and lowest cost online marketing strategies available.
In this post, I’m going to provide you with a simple blueprint you can use to get started with email marketing.
6 Steps to Your First Email Campaign
Getting started with email marketing is as easy as 1-2-3 (4-5-6)!
Step 1: Identify Your Goals
Like any other marketing strategy, before you get started with email marketing, you need to identify some goals and decide how you will measure and track your progress. Your email campaign’s design and content as well as the frequency you send your messages all depend on your goal(s). Are you using email marketing to launch and promote a new product, generate leads and new sales, or increase repeat sales from past and current clients? All of these are viable goals, but require a different approach to your email marketing campaigns.
No matter what the goal is of your email campaign, you’re going to want to track things like sends, opens, click-through rates, pages per visit, leads, and sales. In addition to the previous metrics, if prospects call you on the phone, you’ll also want to make sure that you use a call tracking service to properly attribute any calls received to the appropriate email campaigns that produced them.
If you’d like help setting up your first email marketing campaign and/or properly tracking your results, contact us and we’ll get you started in the right direction!
Step 2: Select the Right Platform
A lot of small business owners make the mistake of sending their email newsletter from their own mail servers via Microsoft Outlook. If you’re thinking about doing this, STOP! Sending mass emails from your company’s email servers is a bad idea. It doesn’t take many SPAM reports to get your company’s email servers blacklisted with an ISP. Once this happens, your email is toast—even routine messages to people you know might get filtered into the SPAM folder.
In order to manage your company’s email marketing campaigns effectively, you need an email marketing provider. The good news is that there are dozens from which to choose. Most are very easy to use and inexpensive. At Blue Corona, we have our own platform that integrates with some of our advanced analytics tools, but most business owners will be fine with something like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp.
Contact us if you’d like help determining which email service provider is the right fit for your company. Regardless of the platform you choose, make sure that all the subscribers on your list have opted in to receive messages from your company. Fail to do this and you’re going to have trouble no matter which vendor you choose.
Step 3: Build Your Opt-In Subscriber List
Whether your email marketing campaigns are a monster success or a nightmare you’d like to forget depends largely on the quality of your list. Virtually all the reputable email marketing platforms require that you have permission from your subscribers to send them marketing messages. They do this to prevent their email servers from getting blacklisted by the various ISPs. The fewer SPAM reports they receive (globally), the higher their deliverability rates across the board.
When you send emails to people that have not opted in to receive messages from your company, you do two things:
- You ruin email marketing for the rest of us and
- You trash your company’s reputation and brand yourself as a SPAMMER
How do you build an opt-in list? Here are three tips:
- Write great content
- Optimize it so that it ranks well in the organic search results for target keywords related to your business
- Use “ethical bribes” to get people to opt in to receive ongoing messages from you in exchange for a special piece of content (ex. a free e-book)
Step 4: Segment Your List
Like the landing page for a PPC campaign, the more targeted your email campaigns are to your subscriber list, the higher your response rates are likely to be. Let’s say you own a local remodeling company that offers home additions, kitchen, bathroom, and basement remodeling. To get the most from your email marketing campaigns, you want to make sure you segment your list by job-type.
By creating a downloadable design idea book for each individual category of your services, you can set things up in a way that people that download the basement ideas book are automatically subscribed to the basement ideas email subscriber list. Over time, you can cross-pollinate and promote the great kitchen work you’ve done to someone who, in the past, was interested in your bathroom remodeling services. However, you want to exercise some caution when making this transition or you risk a spike in opt-out requests or worse—SPAM reports.
Step 5: Invest in a Custom Design
If you’re going to maximize your success with online marketing, you need to work hard to establish and promote your company as THE AUTHORITY. Nothing screams amateur like using one of the stock email design templates that come with any of the major email platforms. Do yourself a favor and invest $500 – $1,000 to get a professionally designed template for your email newsletter. For most businesses, just a couple sales can cover the cost and a template that matches your website and your overall brand standard will go a long way.
Step 6: TRACK > TEST > TWEAK > REPEAT
Virtually no email marketing campaign is a success right away. The world’s best email marketers follow the golden rule of setting S.M.A.R.T. goals and then executing the magic formula we like to call TTTR!
Conclusion & Takeaways
It’s amazing that Salesforce.com would pay over a billion dollars for an email marketing provider and yet, many business owners still haven’t launched their first email newsletter—talk about missed opportunity! Email marketing is a lot like a mini van; it may not be sexy, but it sure works well. When used as part of an overall content marketing strategy, tightly-segmented, closely tracked, opt-in email campaigns are tough to beat in terms of overall ROI.
If you’d like help getting started with email marketing—from building an opt-in list to coming up with the right content marketing strategy to tracking your campaign results—drop us a line. If you’ve already got an email campaign and you’d like some thoughts on how to make it better, forward your most recent campaign to us and tell us a bit about your business.
About The Author: Ben Landers is the President and CEO of Blue Corona, a data-driven, inbound internet marketing company. Submit an inquiry to book Ben to speak at your next conference or event.
View more blogs by Ben Landers