Do any of us remember the days when companies would mail paper flyers advertising their products? Naturally, we still come across the odd pamphlet offering a 2-for-1 from the local pizza shop or a colorful brochure from a travel agency a few towns over, but more and more these are being done away with. Companies and entrepreneurs have turned their attention to the power of e-mail. Like any tool, if used correctly, the benefits are easy to see. On the other hand, without putting in place some very powerful and innovative strategies, the potential to miss out on the advantages of a good email campaign is hard to ignore.
In some ways, your Internet marketing strategy is just as much of a sales tool as putting the physical product or service in the hands of a potential buyer. Similar things must be addressed. By looking at 8 easy steps here, you can save time and energy, placing these two valuable commodities back where they belong… in the business itself!
- What are your goals?
- What is the current situation?
- Who are your competitors and what are they offering?
- Who is the target audience?
- What type of e-mail should you use?
- How much should be sent and how often?
- What is your budget?
- How did it all work out?
What are your goals?
What do you want the e-mails to do for your company or business? It may seem like a simple question, but without defining your basic aims, you may be spending your energy in the wrong direction. Is your primary goal to drive buyers to your website or to have yourself become better known in a specific field or business sector? To have your name a bit more commonplace and to drive interest back to yourself? Like any sales or advertising tool, email should strive to achieve two things: appeal to new prospective clients, and keep those clients coming back. This will help you continue to build solid revenue, which can then be pumped into various other areas.
Take a Look Around
What situation do you find yourself in? Your present status should be looked at from a number of different angles, which will lay the groundwork for the efforts that are around the next corner. Consider some of the following factors:
- How many email contacts do you currently have and what is the budget for acquiring new ones?
- How much does it cost to purchase newer databases?
- How often are these emails sent across and what is the rate of response? (This may help in adjusting your target audience)
- Is the information presented in a catchy manner and is it up-to-date?
- What is working? What needs to be improved?
After your website or your physical location of business, email presentation is one of the most factors in attracting clients. You can’t expect clients or recipients to ask for updates or be interested in what you have to offer if you haven’t even captured their attention!
What are Others in Your Area Offering and How Has it Worked for Them?
Another great way to edge into a successful e-mail campaign is to look at your competitors and see how they are doing. Some may feel a bit awkward about this step. But don’t think of it as “spying” – it is essential that you understand what you’re up against. Most companies use this to their great advantage when referring to “oneupping” their rivals. Now we’re not talking about a clandestine nighttime operation involving repelling down the side of a building and cracking the CEOs safe. It does not need to be that dramatic! Instead, why not sign up for your competitors’ newsletters and e-mail updates and note any changes they may have made to their strategies. Keep your eyes on the bigger, better-established businesses, as they most likely employ market strategists and think-tanks that put them one step ahead of the game. After all, that’s why they are big business and there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing a bit of analysis with the free information they will be more than happy to provide to you.
What is Your Target Audience?
Of course, for any successful operation, sales are key. The salesperson must intimately know his or her client base to adjust to address their needs accordingly. Without having this necessary information, you might as well send emails to random web addresses and hope that if you throw enough jam against the wall then some of it will stick. This is no way to run a successful e-mail campaign!
Depending on what you are marketing, it may be important to have the age, marital status, average annual income, and basic familial information available to you. For others, it may be equally as important to know your customers’ hobbies, activities, and professions. If these things are known, you can develop specific email templates for each group. This increases the likelihood of them being keen to take a further look. Also, those who are willing to give you this information are most likely seriously interested, saving you time by knowing how your marketing strategy is working by the number of interested hits you receive.
Format is Important!
Once you start to narrow down your target audience, the next step is to tailor your email structure and format to what will suit them best. In the email marketing industry, there are two general types of templates that are used: promotional or editorial. Both have certain advantages when used correctly.
A promotional e-mail, not surprisingly, is meant to drive readers back to your website while keeping the content as basic as possible. Think of it as a picture postcard. This type of email should state the basics; perhaps containing visual content as well as a direct link to your site. It works well if it is kept short and sweet. New readers are especially likely to click a link if they like the presentation than they are to scroll through text sent from a company they may not be familiar with.
An editorial email is just that; a burst of information, which states what makes your company stand out from the rest. It can include testimonials, if permission has been granted, and the purpose here is to separate your service from the masses by basically giving a short sales pitch. Not only can this be great for driving people to your website, but those who like what they have just read have essentially qualified themselves!
With both of these types of email, one of the main ideas is to drive the reader to remember your company and the product you are promoting. Even if they may not be interested or in the position to move forward at this exact time, if they opt to receive further e-mails in the future, they will remember who you are. A sale is not over until the recipient says no!
How Much and How Often?
Once you have determined the content and the target audience, set up a plan for how many e-mails you should send and how often they should be sent. If there are constant updates you wish to provide, it may be a weekly occurrence. On the other hand, if you are trying to appeal to larger businesses, it may be best not to hound them too much.What you have to offer should determine how often you will send something across. You want to walk the fine line between keeping a client or potential client interested and inundating them with too many updates. The last thing you want them to start thinking is that what you have to offer is nothing more than spam!
Money, money, money
While it is well and good to focus on the revenue you expect to achieve from all your hard work, don’t forget that keeping a tight budget is necessary to have things run smoothly. Look at the costs of acquiring new databases and how much you will have to pay monthly into your marketing campaign. If there is an email designer you employ to physically create the documentation, make certain not to run over budget. In addition, it is a good idea to take a certain percentage of revenue generated each month and put it directly into what should be a constantly evolving email strategy. Plan well and you can rest assured that your costs will not begin to eat into your profits and, more importantly, if there suddenly comes a point where you have the opportunity to purchase a few thousand pre-qualified leads, you will have the capital to do so.
Hindsight is 20-20
Very rarely is success witnessed overnight, but generally speaking, after 8 weeks of having enacted your strategy, you can be confident that any results you achieved (or lack thereof) are a good barometer that your approach has worked or otherwise.
Carefully and honestly look at web traffic, the ratio of email interest to opt-outs, and adjust accordingly. Flexibility is the key to any successful email campaign and while on the one hand the expression goes that if it is not broken then don’t fix it, don’t be afraid to tweak your methods here or there when needed.
Go back through the previous steps and examine if you have correctly targeted your audience. Have your competitors come out with a new campaign that you have to adjust for? Were your emails visually appealing and did they capture the reader’s attention?
The feedback you receive from clients, even if in the form of silence, can speak volumes. Just remember, email is a sales tool and as any salesperson knows, negative responses can be just as helpful as positive ones. If you keep these things in mind and use them with the ideas and tools previously discussed, the path to success may be just a click away!