Do you remember hearing the common phrase, “You've got mail!”? Now we just hear a beep from our phones or tablet devices but that's about it. While no longer receive AOL cd's in the mail, email has advanced as well. Email is heavily depended upon for regular updates, business work and consumer reports and updates as well. If you don't have a solid email marketing campaign, you are not on the right track.
Check out this beginner's guide and get on the basics:
Phase I: Getting Permission: Of course, no email campaign was ever built without getting permission to get started, so first we’ll need to focus on building a sizable email list. There are many ways you can do this of course. Some prefer to give something away for free while others simply offer a newsletter or product updates.I can’t tell you which is the right or wrong answer in this case, but I can tell you that it’s important to have a clear purpose when asking for an address. This is where a strong call to action comes into play, and copywriting is super important.
- What do I get when I give you my email address?
- Are you going to spam me?
- How often will you email me?
- Will I get discounts?
- Will I get a first crack at your beta?
- Will you send me relevant offers or more junk?
These are the kinds of things you’ll need to address if you want to be successful in phase 1. Simply posting “enter your email for updates” isn’t going to get anyone excited to do so. Instead, consider sharing specifics:
Note the Clear and Concise Call to Action in the Examples Above
Take a look at the examples above and you’ll see that the first tells me I’m getting a free catalogue and a series of reviews and special offers, while the 2nd tells me exactly when I’ll receive the newsletter updates. This is a far more specific, and effective, way of doing business.
A quick look at my own practices tells me that the offers I subscribe to most often are for:
- Email Series’ (i.e. 6 Ways to Change the World)
- Free Downloads
- Free White Papers or eBooks
- Update Lists (New Issue Notifications, Product Updates, New Releases)
Lastly, and Amazon does this really well, your customers make great candidates, so don’t forget to integrate some form of registration or email subscription as part of your purchasing process. Just remember to treat these addresses with special regard, which we’ll talk about in phase 2.
Get Whitelisted: While almost all reputable email service providers work very hard to make sure that your emails are not blocked by major ISP’s, they can’t control whether or not your emails hit the inbox or the spam box. Although most will help you by providing a quality score to help you determine availability, getting whitelisted is the most effective way to ensure that your emails get delivered properly.
Essentially, getting whitelisted is equivalent to being marked as a friend, and the best way to achieve this is by being added to the recipient’s address book. The best way to do this is by providing instructions to do so at the top of each email, especially on the initial thank you and first follow-up email.
Furthermore, here are instructions from some of the more popular online providers:
- Constant Contact
- Campaign Monitor
- Blue Sky Factory
Phase II: Playing the Numbers Game: Manage Expectations with Follow-Up Efforts
Email marketing is all about expectations, and it’s up to you to set them. If your call to action is strong, and your follow-up is consistent, then you can count on a positive campaign. However, if you promise to send one email per week and instead send them daily, then you’re setting yourself up for failure. On the contrary, if someone is expecting daily updates or critical product updates and you don’t’ deliver, then they are likely to be just as upset in that case too.
When to Pitch: If you’re going to get in the habit of pitching often, try to put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Ask yourself if your messaging is consistent with the expectations you’ve set. As I said before, Amazon does this well because they send relevant offers based on my buying habits. Those that send blind offers are far more likely to lose permission to keep doing so.
Notice how Amazon recommends products based on my prior buying habits.
Another option to consider is the value you’re providing. While Amazon can provide value in an offer, you might have to provide it with a newsletter or in linking to blog posts or other forms of media content.
Again, each business has different needs, and there aren’t any hard and fast rules as to how often you can pitch or provide content, but remember that an email list is a permission asset and it’s better to err on the side of caution than to play it loose and reckless.
Phase III: Segmentation and Analytics: Analytics: Notice the detailed daily statistics for open rate on a recent AWeber campaign.We’ve talked before about the importance of analytics in web copy, and email is no different. Every service provider I’ve ever worked with provides complimentary analytics. Though they’re all important, the 3 most important to me are open rate, click through rate (CTR), and unsubscribes.
Your open rate will tell you how well you’ve built your relationship; if the number is low, it means that people have started to delete upon receipt, which means you need to work harder on providing value and/or managing expectations.
If your CTR is low, it means that your message is either not targeted enough, or simply not getting through. In this case, focus on improving your copy. If your unsubscription rate is high in relation to your opt-in rate, then you’ve passed the point of building value and writing good copy…you’ve got some serious work to do. If this is you, try to examine when people are leaving and take action based on those leaks.
Segmentation: If you’re unfamiliar with the term, segmentation is the practice of splitting up your email list into more targeted groups.
For example, the following are ways to segment a larger, more unified list:
- Customer List (in comparison to leads)
- Product Updates (in comparison to a customer list)
- Daily Email List (in comparison to weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc)
- HTML (yes, some people prefer the option for text)
In dividing your list in this manner, you give yourself the ability to send more targeted communication. Some customers want both product and sales updates, while others might only want to hear about new versions. If you don’t give them the chance to choose, you risk losing them all-together. Since customers make the best buyers, it’s fairly obvious why you want to keep them subscribed to your customer email list.
With segmentation, you can send a broadcast only to those that didn’t open your last message (ask them why), or to those that showed interest (a 2nd pitch). You can also split test messaging amongst different groups in order to refine your best practices.
The Value of Your List
In the future, we’ll talk about more advanced techniques, such as measuring the cost of lead acquisition, but for now know this: your email list is one of your most valuable resources, and if you learn how to treat it right, the cost of doing so will pay for itself.
If you can imagine that each person on your list is worth a set value, say $5, then you can understand immediately how losing several hundred could be dangerous to your bottom line.
What do you think? How has email marketing served you best? What practices help you to keep your numbers growing and your readers engaged? Share in the comments.
Building up your list legitimately and not spamming your subscribers is much more valuable than you might think. Can you give an example of why this type of list is one of the most valuable ones you can have?