2015 could be your small business’ year to make email marketing one of your best sales avenues. With an increase in email marketing results you will see an improvement in revenue and profits without spending a significant increase in costs.
If you want your email marketing to be a triumph this year, then you need to be prepared and build your marketing processes for success. Here is a process to do just that and create momentum that will carry you through 2015 and beyond.
1. Segregate Your Email Marketing List
The first thing you should do is to split your current email marketing contacts list into several sub-lists. Not everyone who is interested in receiving mail from you will be interested in the same thing: some will be new to your small business, others will be old customers or some will have bought certain products that have potential add-ons.
You need to establish which sub-groups your email marketing strategy could utilise and then place members into these groups. This doesn’t mean that you can’t send an email to everyone, but this should be rarely done as you target your contacts based on their behaviours and their position in your sales funnel.
2. Plan What You Want To Publish
Email marketing is not something that you can just create quickly and send off. It takes careful planning and strategising. You don’t want to be sending too many emails with the same subject or topic in a short space of time; nor do you want to be leaving off popular topics.
To avoid this, you need to plan in advance what topics you are going to publish and when. It should also include which sub-list you would like to send the content to.
3. Create Content
To ensure you don’t fall behind on your email marketing campaigns, your content should be created at least two or three weeks in advance. This gives you time to strategise, create, edit and schedule in your emails. It also lowers the stress from having a tight deadline and allows your creativity to be better.
You can start to create content in Microsoft Word or another word processor and then edit it. After this, drop it into your email marketing management program and create the template.
4. Create A Template And Schedule Emails
If you haven’t already, creating a template is really important. It creates a sense of consistency with your email marketing list and this can be more beneficial than you realise. Consistency will instil a professional image for your small business and people will become accustomed with your email’s design. Eventually they may look forward to receiving your content.
Once you have designed your email template, you can create your emails in advance and schedule them to go out at a specific time.
5. List Generation
Next you need to maintain the momentum by continuously growing your list. There are several ways you can do this including using a static form to requests details when visitors land on your website. Alternatively, you can use a pop-up to appear after about 15 seconds to request details from your visitors.
Finally, there is the option to offer your visitors a free gift in exchange for their contact details. The gift can be anything from free content on the website, a downloadable e-book, a free review or something else. For this you can be really imaginative. As long as you are providing something of value, and generating traffic, you will have new contacts to your list.
6. Maintain Your List
At the same time as generating contacts for your list, you should be maintaining those already signed up. This might mean moving them to a different sub-group or removing them because they haven’t responded or interacted with your email for some time.
Removing contacts isn’t a bad option as it allows you to concentrate on those who are really interested and provides better statistical analysis of whether your email content is desired by your email marketing list.
These processes will help you supercharge your email marketing campaigns for 2015. Then you can better process your email marketing leads to achieve good sales, high revenue and better profits.
Not every marketing email that you send out is appropriate for everyone on your subscription list. A message about a service that has already been bought is useless to one person while another consumer might enjoy that particular marketing message.
Sending the wrong message to certain consumers may damage your future online sales when people who feel there is no value in your messages unsubscribe. Therefore, it is important that you maintain an effective group of lists, segregating subscribers into the correct list depending on their history with your company.
1. Current clients
Your current clients are really important contacts to keep happy and nothing works better than word of mouth or referral marketing. They might also be interested in buying more products from you, especially if they had a positive experience with their previous purchase.
Therefore you can use your email marketing campaigns with current clients to spread the news of your products or services to people who have yet to hear about you and gain extra purchases.
You need to concentrate on sending messages that are going to be of use to the current client. Some of these messages may be rather simple service change notifications or other terms which will affect how they use your product / service. Alternatively you may wish to email them about complimentary services or products or something that will enhance their experience of your product.
Another email you could consider sending is a request to share information about your brand to their peers. Offering a deal, like a $10 voucher or a free month’s subscription, is a good way to encourage this behaviour.
2. Potential clients
Potential clients are an important list to curate into current clients. This list should have more specific targeting as you will likely, or should, have some data of their behaviour on your site. For instance they may have downloaded a free e-book or entered a competition to win a product. This information is useful as you know what products they are interested in.
Using this information you can create highly targeted emails based on their behaviour.
If you have several offers or e-books that can accessed once an email has been collected – you can segregate the list further into those who are interested into different products.
3. Website subscribers
There will be a list of people who have perhaps subscribed online but have yet to download an offer or any marketing material you have. These are the people that you have to collect more information about. They probably will have the lowest open and click through rate and also the highest rate of unsubscribing.
Yet they could be potential clients in the near future.
Each person on this list is different so you should mix up what products or services you send them information on. Getting them to buy directly is probably only going to result in low conversion numbers. Instead you should try to find out what in particular interested them in your business.
You can do this by directing them to your other marketing material (e-books, trials, etc) and see what they sign up for. This way you can gain further knowledge about your new potentials and use targeted marketing to convert them to a full paying customer.
Remember to maintain your lists
Your subscribers are highly unlikely to remain on the same list forever. You should constantly monitor who is on what list and swap them to the appropriate list when it is right. Otherwise you may find that you are losing potential consumers because you’re emailing them the marketing content you have designed for website subscribers – which has no more value to them.
A proper maintained and segregated group of lists is the best way to increase web traffic and generate leads.
Image: Horia Varlan
It’s easy to separate the men from the boys, so to speak, in the world of email marketing. Many small business owners mistakenly think they are exempt from certain email marketing policies. However, the rules for email marketing are the same whether you’re a mom-and-pop corner store or a Fortune 500 company.
In order for your email program to be successful, to avoid coming across as a novice and – most importantly – to be compliant with CAN-SPAM regulations, you’ve got to employ email best practices. Unfortunately, small businesses are guilty of violating many of these email standard operating procedures. As they say, ignorance of the law is no excuse.
Are you guilty of any of the common violations listed below? If so, now’s the time to come clean (and clean up your act). Your subscribers will thank you for it.
1. Sending without segmenting
Just because your list isn’t in the six-figure range, that doesn’t mean you can bypass segmenting your audience. After all, you want your subscribers to open your email messages, don’t you?
Approach your email marketing strategy as if you were writing a personal letter to your prospects and customers. Granted, you don’t have to send a different email to every single subscriber on your list, but you do want to segment your list according to interests and other variables.
If you simply send blast-batch emails to your entire list, your subscribers will become disengaged (and eventually unsubscribe). Conversely, if you send them relevant content they will be more likely to open your emails, click through to your site, and convert.
You do need to consider the size of your lists when conducting A/B tests. Again, it’s not the total size that’s important but the percentage of your list that you test. If your list is considerably small, you may need to test to the entire list. Not sure? Check out this split test calculator.
2. Buying email lists
Small businesses are often targeted by companies offering to sell consumer lists. While this may be common practice in direct mail, in email marketing it’s a huge no-no.
Do not be tempted into buying an email list as a way to build your subscriber base. The only way to grow your email list is to do so organically. Think quality, not quantity.
Make it easy for people to sign up for your email list on your website. Use print collateral, social media, point of sale, incentives and other tactics to encourage signup. Include a forward-to-a-friend link in all emails.
Never buy an email list. Period.
This leads us to a third common email marketing blunder….
3. Emailing without permission
Do not assume that you’ve got permission to send a promotional email to someone. The only email addresses on your list should be those of people who have opted in to receive your company’s emails. Better yet, use a double opt-in process for your email signups.
Emailing without permission can result in another type of list – the dreaded blacklist. If your company ends up on a blacklist, your emails can be blocked from ISPs. It’s a death knell for email marketers.
Yes, you can send transactional emails to people who have interacted with your business but may not actually be on your email list. The distinction is transactional vs. promotional email. If you try the proverbial wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing approach of disguising a promotional email as a transactional one, DON’T. Transactional emails should have no more than 20 percent promotional content.
If you don’t want the email police breathing down your neck, make sure you follow best practices. It’s the first step to maintaining – and growing – a healthy email list.