Email Marketing: 7 Tips to Get Started on the Right Foot

« Blog

If you own a small or medium size business, you’ve probably received a lot of promotional emails. Some you liked. Others, you didn’t—like the one that promised to double your sales in 4 weeks, or the one with all the spelling mistakes in the subject line. Then there was the email which started “Dear John,” and your name is Bill.  And how could you forget the company that started sending you 1, 2 or 5 emails—every day—and made it impossible to find the “unsubscribe” link. You most definitely didn’t like those emails—and chances are, neither did anyone else—but marketers make egregious email marketing mistakes like these every day, predictably and continually. 

According Econsultancy’s Email Marketing Census 2016, marketers reported that of all their marketing strategies, email delivers the highest ROI, more even than SEO. Unfortunately, they also admitted that they don’t have effective strategies for sending targeted emails based on market segmentation, email testing or mobile optimization. They cite lack of adequate resources as the primary obstacle to greater email marketing effectiveness.

Doing It Right

Done right, email marketing can be your company’s best friend. Done wrong, it can hurt both your reputation and your sales. That might make you reluctant to get started with email marketing, but if you understand the rules of engagement and best practices, email marketing can grow your business and boost your sales.

Here are 7 tips to make sure you get started with email marketing on the right foot:

  1. Tell email recipients what to expect:  first make sure that everyone to whom you send an email has “opted in,” in other words, given you permission to communicate with them via email, and give them the opportunity to unsubscribe with each email. In your first email, be clear what kinds of information you plan to send (such as informational pieces or special deals on products), and how often you’ll be sending them. Keep your promise—if you’ve said you’ll send an email once a week, every Friday afternoon, for example, do just that—no more and no less. 
  2. Write credible subject lines:  one of the reasons inbound marketing strategies are so successful is that they are grounded in the understanding that consumers have changed—they’re more skeptical than they used to be and don’t appreciate hyperbolic promises. Avoid subject lines that promise the world. Keep them credible and down to earth. Remember that whatever you promise you eventually have to deliver, both in the body of your email and in whatever products or services you offer.
  3. Use personalization, but do so cautiously:  it’s important to capture personal information in your online forms, and then use it to personalize your emails. The problem is that some recipients don’t provide accurate information, or make spelling mistakes, or put first name where last name should go on the form. Check and double check to be sure your personal data is accurate and up-to-date. A recipient named Sam Jones won’t appreciate an email addressed to Jones Sam, for example.
  4. Segment your email list:  the reason you collect data on your email recipients is so you can use it to deliver the most relevant emails possible. For example, an online checklist of products in which recipients might be interested will enable you to send different emails to recipients who want information about televisions vs. those who want washing machines, or to those who have just signed up and those who are close to making a purchase decision.
  5. A/B test your emails:  this sounds complicated, but it simply means that before you send out a huge email blast, you should first test several versions of it with small sample groups to see which one gets the best results, such as the highest open rate, or the most conversions. 
  6. Make emails customer-centric:  always write emails from your customer’s point of view. As a seller, your top priority might be for customers to “buy now,” but his might be to get more detailed information about what you’re selling.  Always put yourself in his shoes before you send him an email.
  7. Proof your emails, then proof them again:  there’s nothing that kills an otherwise effective email quicker than obvious spelling or grammar mistakes. When prospective customers receive emails replete with errors, they assume you don’t know what you’re doing and are less likely to buy from you. 

The success of your business depends on every interaction you have with customers and prospective customers—from how well your website works to the kind of customer service you deliver to the effectiveness of the emails you send. Together, they determine the kind of customer relationships you form, and whether you develop loyalty and gain their trust over time. To learn more about the contact and customer management tools we offer to help you grow your business, contact us today.