Part 1 of the “Do-it-Right Email Marketing” series.
Do you have customers who might benefit from hearing from you more often? Inactive customers you’d love to try to re-engage? Prospects who ignore your phone calls? If so, it’s probably time to launch a new email marketing program.
According to the Email Statistics Report from The Radicati Group, there were 269 billion emails sent per day in 2017. By 2021, this figure is expected to rise to almost 320 billion. As much as we love shiny new communication channels like What’s App and Twitter, clearly, email is still an integral part of our lives and isn’t going away. This is even more true in the business world.
A well-developed email program can do wonders for a business. It can enable you to:
- Increase awareness of your products, services and solutions
- Share ideas, stories and information your audience can’t get elsewhere
- Promote upcoming events
- Keep in touch with buyers and potential buyers
- Entice prospects to set up a meeting
- Generate new business
To ensure your email marketing program gets off to a solid start, follow these four guidelines.
1. Get your lists together
It doesn’t matter how compelling your content is or if your template design is jaw-dropping: if you aren’t reaching the right people, all of your behind-the-scenes efforts will be for naught.
Your primary audience should be your customers, inactive customers and prospects. If you can break up these groups further, that’s ideal. Can you split your customer list into regular purchasers vs. those who haven’t purchased in 12 months? By dollar amount? Region? Segmenting your list will allow you to tailor your email campaigns.
Chances are you have access to association and networking group lists. Don’t automatically add those contacts to your database or you will be in violation of spam legislation (CASL in Canada or the CAN-SPAM Act in the United States). First seek the permission of your colleagues, explaining that your emails will be educational and informational. If you don’t, you may end up with a ton of spam reports, opt-outs and potentially even fines.
It is a good idea to have vendors and employees subscribe to your lists, too. The former may gain insights about your organization that ultimately benefit you, while the latter will likely demonstrate more interest in your email marketing efforts if you include them in the process. Here are other ideas for growing your email database.
2. Choose your “email service provider” carefully
The next step is choosing the platform you will use to send your email campaigns – your email service provider.
There are many affordable providers that cater to do-it-yourselfers (such as Constant Contact, MailChimp and Emma) by offering pre-designed, customizable templates or the option of uploading HTML code for a custom design. Be sure to compare platforms and carefully consider factors like features, support and deliverability.
3. Plan helpful content for your audience
One of the biggest challenges for many small businesses is what to say to their audience. It’s natural to want to focus on what your organization offers, and heavily promote your products or services. Unless you’re a behemoth and much-loved brand, however, that’s the last thing your audience wants to read.
To capture – and keep – the interest of your customers and prospects, dedicate your messaging to their interests and needs. Your content should include anecdotes, how-to documentation, case studies, resources, industry news, trends, new product information, and only if appropriate, special offers.
No more than 20 per cent of your material should be promotional or you’ll turn off buyers.
4. Design for email, not for print
Email is a different animal than print. If you’ve ever received an email with fuzzy images or text that was difficult to read, it means the designer didn’t understand the difference.
A typical email template is 600 pixels wide, while an 8.5 x 11” piece of paper is 2,550 pixels wide. That means you can’t take a layout created for print, then drop a picture of it into an email template and expect it to look stellar. Either recreate it at 600 pixels wide or create a complimentary design comprised of smaller images, body text, headings, subheads and multiple links.
Equally important, your email campaigns need to look good on both desktop and mobile devices. Even if you sell strictly to businesses, it’s likely that 25 to 35 per cent of your audience will view your emails on a smartphone or tablet. If your campaigns aren’t easy to view, you will unintentionally encourage your contacts to delete your emails or unsubscribe.
Cathy Cain-Blank is President of CC Marketing and Communications, specializing in developing and deploying effective email marketing campaigns for businesses across North America.