Over the recent years, there has been buzz that claims e-mail marketing is dead. Although social media and mobile marketing have received a lot of attention, e-mail marketing still remains the cornerstone of digital marketing. In fact, with a strong content marketing approach, e-mail is more powerful than ever. According to Forrester Research, 838 billion e-mails were sent in 2013, nearly three times the number of stars in the Milky Way. E-mail marketing helps boost customer loyalty with your brand, drive business to on- and offline channels, integrate multi-marketing channels and fuel the growth of social networks. One of the main problems small and medium-sized businesses face today is knowing where exactly to get started. Here are some tips to help you leverage e-mail to drive your business forward:
Building your list is probably the most important part of e-mail marketing. It is important to make sure everyone on your list has opted in to receive marketing e-mails. We recommend you follow these industry standards:
- Always put your customers first by marketing the benefits they will receive.
- Find consumers where they are (in-store, online, at events) and generate list growth, do not buy it.
- Make sure that consumers opt-in directly to receive communication from your brand and verify that their information is never resold, rented or otherwise misused.
- Use a provider that enables seamless follow-up: once the consumer signs up, send your subscriber an immediate confirmation or “welcome” e-mail.
Expect your subscriber database to "churn"about 25 per cent every year
It is also important to continuously add new subscribers to your list. Here are some ideas on how you can build your subscriber base:
- Add an e-mail sign-up call-to-action as a custom tab on your social media page.
- Collect e-mail addresses at events.
- Promote an online competition like a free giveaway and ask entrants to sign up or submit with their e-mail address.
- Add an opt-in form to the homepage of your website or blog.
- Collect e-mails during your checkout process (in-store or online).
- Partner with a complimentary business and arrange for them to promote your newsletter.
Understand CAN-SPAM rules to understand who you can e-mail and how.Learn More
When determining the ESP you should choose, it is important to have an idea of how many subscribers you have and in some cases how often you plan to e-mail them. Most ESPs base their pricing plans on these factors.
There is a large selection of ESPs to choose - ranging from easy to use Web-based solutions to robust on-premise providers. As a small business getting started you should consider a solution that will help you grow, cost you minimal and does not lock you into large contracts.
When creating copy for your e-mail, remember to keep it short and simple.
You have about three seconds to capture the attention of your readers when they open an e-mail.
Your content should strengthen the relationship with your audience by providing them with beneficial information in a timely manner. Here are some quick tips to always remember when creating an e-mail:
- Use a company-branded e-mail address (register your domain) to establish credibility.
- Establish the purpose of your e-mail, as it will set the expectations of what your subscribers will expect to receive (i.e., Promoting a sale/product, testimonials, running a contest).
- Make sure your brand name is included in the FROM name.
- Subject lines should be 35 characters or less (and do not use all caps).
- Calls-to-action should be clear and enticing.
- Use short sentences and bulleted text.
- Personalise when possible.
- Make sure social sharing links and/or ‘Forward to a Friend’ options are added.
- If using a WYSIWYG, do not copy directly from Microsoft Word.
90% of consumers are more comfortable becoming a customer of a small business that uses a branded e-mail than one that does not.
There is a fine line between infrequent e-mail communication and bombarding your subscribers to the point that they unsubscribe. Unfortunately, there is not a scientific method to help determine how often you should send, what day or time of day will get you the highest engagement rate.
The best way to determine these factors is to simply… TEST! Follow these steps to get started:
- Select a few subsets of your list.
- Establish your baseline metrics (select the time you think will work best).
- Create and schedule your test e-mails.
- Measure and analyse the results to determine which had the highest engagement rate.
- Now, that you have your winner! send to the rest of your list that did not receive your tests.