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 marketing tool, 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 seven rules for email marketing that can help your business.
Never Use Your Email Program
When culling 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.
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?” 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.