One of the greatest assets you can have as a business is a really, really good email list. While there is a lot of hoopla about having a strong social media presence, and that is an effective component of your marketing arsenal, honing a great email list still can turn into real dollars for your business. But this can also be a way to lose customers too, so here are ten tips for email marketing that can help your business.
Never Use Your Email Program
When compiling your email marketing list, don’t use the program resident on your computer to send out emails. This likely violates Federal email guidelines including the ability to easily opt-out of a campaign and it just looks unprofessional, particularly if you’ve got a huge number of people in the To: field. Instead, one of these email marketing tools should be employed. If you also are doing bulk emails and you have a list of recipients in your To: field, you are absolutely violating their privacy.
Automation - Good and Bad
As your list grows you will have to use an automation system to accomplish your email activity.
Services like Constant Contact or MailChimp are great ways to manage and send your emails. Those services are always working to improve the open and receive rate while companies like Google’s GMail are working to see how emails are getting to you and minimize those that might be spam or junk.
What’s good about email service providers is they allow you to send to large lists of people. They also comply with federal regulations about emails including the ability to unsubscribe and provide the recipient with who the sender is and how to contact them.
Furthermore, you can segment your list.
For example, let’s say you have 1000 people who are interested in your quilting business but there are also 500 of those people who might have mentioned interest in crochet as well. So your store can send to the entire list for regular tips and information, but you can also send things just to the quilters when you have something for them or just those who wish to crochet when that’s appropriate.
Knowing your audience is a great way to increase engagement.
For example, my Monday Marketing email list is broken into a number of segments including those who might be more interested in having me craft a website for them, or those for whom I have crafted a site. There are also those who might want a blog, social media marketing or a number of other segments.
When I get a hole in my marketing in one of these categories I can send out an email to people who might be most interested in this type of thing.
Engagement is Key
When someone signs-up for your email list reach out to them and initiate a conversation via email. This will do several things including letting their email provider know that you truly are connected.
If your emails are only going one way, that means that they’re very likely going into a bulk email or even spam folder. Email clients are constantly working to make the email experience better so when they see a one-sided conversation, such as people only receiving your emails but not responding, the priority goes lower and lower until your emails disappear.
We all get a lot of email, much of which is just deleted before it’s ever opened. If your emails offer something of value to the reader in each correspondence, this will significantly increase the number of emails that are opened. And something of value isn’t necessarily a discount, but something the reader can actually use.
For example, I manage a B&B’s email marketing and we always offer a recipe and some great travel tips that the reader can use - we realize they can’t come to us as often as we’d like but we want to stay on their radar.
Ask yourself “what will my reader get out of this email?”
Even better, ask yourself if people will want to share your email with others. As with social media, sharable content is the absolute key to success.
We know what you want, but make sure to give the reader something of real value.
Don’t Send Too Many Emails
Depending on your business, you can completely overwhelm someone with emails to the point that they won’t open what you send even if you’ve just sent the keys to Fort Knox. Fewer outstanding emails is much preferred to a lot of emails.
How many is too many? That depends on your business.
The Subject Line Matters
What’s in the subject line heavily affects the open rate. Many email professionals will tell you to try several subjects to see which one gets the most response (measuring open rate is another benefit of using an emailing service as mentioned above).
I also like to have a consistent set of words in the title of each email so those who are truly nerdy can count on this and create filters for these words.
For example, my Monday Marketing emails that I send out each Monday always have “Monday Marketing” in the title along with what the specific email is about. This way the recipient can use their local email filtering capability to set up an alert when they receive these.
Also, notice that I always send the emails on Monday mornings. Consistency can also be a big plus, depending on your target.
Here is a list of great email subject lines to help you with yours.
Don’t Be Too Wordy
The emails you send should be short - very short. People’s attention span is also short and they’ve got other things to do. But that doesn’t mean that the emails can’t link to longer articles. For example, the Monday Marketing emails link to this blog. The B&B’s emails link to their blog and pages on their site with things to do.
Coincidentally we can measure the success of each email by measuring direct traffic to the blog and comparing it to the open rate of the email.
As with emails, a very few great images are far better than a lot of lousy ones. And, since many people are receiving emails on their mobile devices nowadays, be courteous and use small images that won’t suck up their cellular data plan.
Many modern email clients like (the tool you have on your computer) specifically don't serve-up images unless someone asks them to. So a plain text email with no images at all might be best.
Also, make sure that you have a text alternative to the images you do use. Smart recipients have the ability to automatically download images turned off in their email client as this is a common way malicious software is distributed. Having a text alternative lets the recipient know what the pictures are which, hopefully, will encourage them to download and look at them. Or...
When you send someone an email generally there is no formatting in it. It’s not fancy. It’s just a bunch of text.
Well those email client tools (like GMail) can see all the fancy formatting I put in the emails and recognizes that it’s likely a bulk send. So, recipients of Monday Morning Marketing emails may recognize that this week’s email is plain Jane. Let’s see how that works.
As much as possible, have your emails look like your website. If your website has a red background, have your emails look the same. Logos, colors and other branding items should be as consistent as possible.
Email is still very limited with font usage and the like and, again, since many clients are using mobile devices there will be further limitations but you can work within these to create a unique presence that’s consistent.
Prune the list
If you are using one of those email services, you may have noticed that the cost to you grows as your list does. But some of those people on your list may just be taking up space.
You can also see who opens the email and who doesn’t. So, perhaps a personalized one-on-one email to those people who aren’t opening the emails asking if they still want to receive your emails is a good idea. You may find that a lot of people don’t realize you’re still sending as their email client has put you in the corner with a dunce hat on. Oh no.
But this one-on-one interaction may signal to their email provider that, hey, you are a wonderful person who should be at the top of the list. Look at you go!
Obviously you can send your email to your mom to test the content and such, but she thinks you’re wonderful anyway so that won’t really help you. She likes everything you do.
But you can send them to a spam filter service like Glock Apps. They can see if the emails are deliverable and will get past the Spam filters.
There are a lot of other ideas for email masters to employ and this is only a few tips, but definitely a core that will be useful to you. There are people who have turned their email marketing list into powerful resources that generate incredible businesses.
A great social presence is definitely a plus, but companies like Facebook are notorious for changing the rules they operate by at what seems like a whim. And if you culled a great presence on MySpace, where is that now?
Owning your email marketing list and providing great value to the recipients is something that is truly your own so treat it like the gold that it is. Next time we’ll talk about how to generate a great email marketing list.
In the interim, I’ve been listening to a terrific audio book about just this subject called Authority: Become an Expert, Build a Following, and Gain Financial Independence by Nathan Barry.