E-mail marketing can be one of the most effective sales and relationship building tools in your marketing arsenal. In this post, I’d like to stress the points of:
1. Why in-house email marketing is important
2. Effectively using your in-house list
3. Building your existing list on a consistent basis
Why proper e-mail marketing is so important
Since my company is mainly focused on organic search engine optimization and social media marketing, it’s rare that I address e-mail marketing; there can be such a negative stigma to it. But, like an RSS reader, receiving opt-in emails is an effective time management technique for consumers and end-users and can be a truly effective content delivery format for marketers. In an increasingly clutter filled world, I believe more and more people will rely on their opt-in emails to make key purchasing decisions and as such, thought it important to begin to dig a bit deeper into how email can be used more effectively as a marketing tool. So what are some of the reasons it’s important?
Relationship, PR and Corporate Communications
E-mail is a huge communications and relationship opportunity. Your clients and interested parties (possibly even your competitors) have chosen to receive updates from your company; so you should take this opportunity to stand out and impress them. They have invited you into their decision making process giving you the unique opportunity to communicate with and influence them one-on-one.
Reach / Mobile
Reach your clients on their mobile devices, such as Blackberries – they don’t have to browse your entire website, simply serve relevant updates right to their inbox. Many consumers are simply turning on their mobile devices and opening their permission based e-mails to find the latest products services and offers and to stay connected with the vendors that they have already sought out and trust. Right now, you probably have customers who are on the run checking e-mails, just waiting to be your next client or just waiting to purchase their next product from you. As they commute to work on the train, they may not be visiting your site, but they may be checking their Yahoo! Mobile email (which by the way is an outstanding service) or browsing the morning corporate mail on their Blackberry. Why not be top of mind?
With e-mail, you can reach your clients as they are paying bills, or at least while they are on-task. When I check my mail at home, I am also checking some of my online accounts to settle up on bills, and I have my banking card out and at the ready. I may be inclined to up my membership subscription to a magazine or take advantage of the latest savings on a product from a retailer’s e-mail for myself or as a gift for someone else.
Effectively Using Your In-house E-mail Marketing List
E-mails to your existing client base can be an extremely effective tool. What are the good ways to coddle this audience that you have worked so hard to captivate and cultivate?
Exclusive: The recipient should feel that by receiving the e-mail, they are receiving updates and content that they cannot find elsewhere, even perhaps directly on your web site. They should feel that they are part of a subscription club with unique and privileged rights.
Predictable Schedule: It’s important that your client base knows when to expect the e-mail from your company. Come up with a schedule and try to stick to it.
Subject: Make it abundantly clear what you are mailing them about. Your subject line is the first thing that they will see. Try not to go over 5 words. 3 is better and give it some punch so it cuts through the clutter. Email labs suggests 50 characters. Be carefull of the spam filters (more below on that).
Calls to Action: Even with an editorial type e-mail where you are not specifically “selling” a product to your audience, provide them an opportunity to e-mail you back about your company and invite them to dialogue with you regarding the subject about which you’ve mailed them. Invite them to your blog or your forum to further engage them. When you are selling, make it clear what you are offering and invite the reader to act.
Excite: Be sure to excite your recipients with engaging content and worthwhile offers. Don’t be sensationalistic, but more, be excitingly real. Don’t e-mail them, just for the sake of staying on schedule. You must have valuable content or offers or you’ll loose your audience. Be relevant.
Parse: Email lists should be parsed in relevant ways; that can be gender, age groups, geographic locations or other attributes. Send the subscribers what they want. If you are a clothing retailer, don’t email men’s shirt offers to females on your list. Don’t waste your subscriber’s time.
Opt-in: Perhaps obvious, but completely necessary; offer to let your recipients to invite others to opt-in or to have it sent to other e-mails that they may have. Do this right in the e-mail, perhaps toward the bottom.
Opt-out: Provide your recipients and easy way to opt out of your e-mails, but when you do, be sure that you ask why.
What are some good ways to build and promote subscription to your in-house e-mail list?
Opt-In on Checkout Strategies: If you are an etailer with a shopping cart, in your cart, on checkout, make sure that people can opt in for e-mail updates as they check out with their purchases. Is it worth it to offer them a small savings if they opt in? As well, provide the option to select the types of updates they want
o Subject matter
o Format – text or html
Install a “forward to a friend” function somewhere in the correspondence template. And, you might offer the recipient who forwards your emails an incentive to do so.
Attractive Graphics and Imagery: Use attractive graphics, but do not overwealm. Don’t use cheap images and graphics. Spend the time and money to do things right. Flashing and moving parts is probably a bad idea for a number of reasons including delivery and spam filters. Try not to use “heavy” or large files that will not make it through various email clients. If you must use imagery, always provide a link to download the full version of the email from a web site.
Code your e-mails properly and Test in multiple e-mail clients. If your subscribers don’t receive your mail, your list will not grow. Test in:
o Outlook and Outlook Express
o Yahoo Mail
o MSN Hotmail/Live
o Lotus Notes
Create Effective Subject Lines: Use ones that will not get caught in spam filters (find Link) Loren McDonald at E-mail labs put together 15 tips for writing effective subject lines. As well, Sheri Waldrop provides some specific words on this site that may get caught in the Spam filters. Some are:
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- Give it away, Giving it away
- Great offer
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- Stop or “Stops”
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- Work at home
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- You’ve been selected
Strategize & Track
Lastly, it’s extremely important to set out a full strategy before starting any email marketing campaign, and be sure to have adequate tracking in place for all of your campaigns. You must know if your mails are received, opened and convert in some capacity. Consider what types of time goes into creating and servicing your mail list provide yourself the data sorting tools to manage your lists efficiently. At the end of the day, your strategy will be key to email success.
Additional great resources and learning on the subject can be found with Jeanne Jennings who is well noted for her knowledge of e-mail marketing. Jeanne has a list of articles running over at ClickZ that are really worth visiting. It’s a series that is continuing on as we speak.
Once you have established a database of users, treat it like gold, for they provided you the opportunity to dialogue with them for the long-term.