Did you know that email marketing is one of the most effective online tactics for lead generation? Email also has one of the highest ROI (Return on investment) among the marketing channels commonly used. Even from a consumer behavior perspective, research shows that 95% of online consumers use email and 91% check their email at least once a day.
How do you use this powerful tool for your business growth? As a business owner or manager, you may already be using emails for regular communication with vendors, customers and personal contacts, but how do you use email for Marketing and Lead Generation? There is a difference in approach to email when you use it for marketing.
Let us look at 4 practical steps that can help you start your email marketing campaigns:
Step #1 Create a content plan
2.6 billion users send 205 billion emails every day. But the average open rate for retail/professional services emails hinges around 21-22 %. In such a situation, what should you do to capture more attention via email marketing? Create good content.
Start with deciding the type of useful content that you could share with your target audience. Here is a suggested list of the types of content that you could use to create an email campaign (or series of campaigns: Drip Email Marketing)
- Helpful features of your product/service.
- Step-by-step guide to use your product.
- End-user experience and testimonials of the benefits.
- Product reviews (Example: Review other related products in the market)
- Expert opinions and tips – on your specific products.
- Industry news and updates.
Points to consider while planning your content:
- Nearly half the emails are opened in mobile devices today. So keep your mobile audience in mind while creating campaigns.
- Research shows that subject lines with a length of 61- 70 characters have the highest read rate.
Practical Tips on Email Content:
- Keep it real and authentic. Do not make it sound too salesy!
- Keep it informative – backed with data & expertise.
- Keep it simple or short. Avoid fluff.
- Try to have visuals – like images or embedded videos.
- Integrate email into your marketing plan – Make email campaigns a part of your overall marketing strategy, Calendar, etc.
Step #2 Build your email list
Building a good email list is the foundation for email marketing success. The volume of your list does not matter. The quality of it matters. Many companies have 100s of 1000s of email ids, but without much of an impact. With advanced email filters and spam filtering technologies, getting an email to land on your customer’s inbox is becoming a challenge. Building a genuine list with the email ids of an audience that is eager to open your emails every time you send it, is the most effective long-term strategy.
But how do you build such a list? How do you build a mailing list that is reliable, value-adding and effective?
Practical Tips on List Building:
- Begin with your immediate circle – Family and Friends who might be interested in your product/service.
- Add known business contacts – like partners, vendors and people with whom you have a good rapport in work-related transactions.
- Include your acquaintances through various events, with their consent (if you have the details of their visiting/business cards).
- Add your existing and prospective customers to the list.
- Create an automated CRM integrated process to add every prospective lead to the mailing list.
- Segment your list. Segment them as leads, prospects, customers, partners, friends, acquaintances. This will help you send specific targeted messages to each segment (for example: Special offer emails to prospects).
- Use ‘Double Opt-in” and “Permission” methods to let the email providers know that your email list is genuine. The last thing you want is for your brand to be marked as a ‘spammer’ in the email marketing world. Here is a useful article on the subject on Spam Filters from Mailchimp.
Step #3 Select the right tools
You may be used to sending emails directly from your Inbox or using good old tools like Outlook. But when it comes to business emailing, as we discussed earlier, many factors play a key role in determining the effectiveness – the content, the formatting, the coding (yes, email also has coding built into it!), the spam filtering elements, etc.
This is where ‘tools’ or ‘email marketing software’ come into picture. They help you manage your email marketing workflow with ease.
Practical Tips on Tools Selection:
Two of our favorite tools for email marketing are:
- Mailchimp is one of the leaders in the market (and our favorite) since they give you a number of easy options for designing, sending and automating email campaigns. They have a great collection of email templates. They allow you to start for free (for up to 2000 subscribers) and then you can move to a premium plan when you scale up and add more subscribers.
- AWeber is another effective tool. They also have very good features like Mailchimp (though their design tool is not as effective as Mailchimp). But we like their analytics tool better than any other tool in the market. They also have a very responsive support team. Make sure you check them out.
Here is a list of few more tools for you to consider:
- Constant Contact is a easy-to-use tool across all skill levels. You can use its designer mode to create your own customized templates with XHTML and CSS. Their support community provides helpful resource materials especially for small businesses and they conduct local seminars to give live instructions.
- GetResponse has an unlimited autoresponder which is quite useful to build good relationships with customers. It also provides a set of other features like design editor, list management tools, social media tools, landing page editor (that previews how the email looks in inbox) and Analytics.
- ActiveCampaign has a conditional content feature to send customized content for each demographic location. It also has features that enable you to keep your campaigns up-to-date with current and fresh content.
Step #4 Measure the impact
Email marketing tools (above) now have advanced measurement technology that can tell you who opened your email, which link they clicked, who subscribed, who unsubscribed, which campaign worked, did your CTA work, etc.
You can even do an A/B testing in email marketing by sending one version of the same email to one group and another to another group. Google Analytics integration can further help you track the clicks to links of webpages, videos embedded in emails using unique campaign (UTM) codes.
You could make use of these measurement and tracking facilities for each of your campaign and use the data to fine-tune your email marketing approach.
We hope the tips and tools help you get started with email marketing and use it effectively to grow your business.
Leave your comments if you know of any other useful tools or if you like to share your thoughts on email marketing. Thank you.
All the very best!