One avenue of marketing many businesses don't consider using is email. While it may not seem as hip or cutting edge as the latest form of social media, Smart Insights reveals that email campaigns get 50 to 100 times more clicks than Facebook and Twitter. And if you have fewer than 2,000 recipients, sending email can be free.
Of course, email marketing isn't magic; you still have to do it right. That means sending emails to the right people with the right subject line at the right time. We're going to tell you how to accomplish all three based on our experience sending millions of emails a week.
Before you start emailing, however, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the CAN-SPAM Act. This is a law, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, that gives guidelines for what you can and can't do with commercial email.
For example, it bans false or misleading To and From fields, deceptive subject lines, lack of ad identification, and more. Failure to comply with these rules can result in fines up to $16,000. So it pays to do it right. Read the full rules at the FTC's site.
If you use any major mass-mailing service, such as MailChimp or Constant Contact, they'll help you comply with the law. That just leaves you with the task of making a successful email campaign.
1. Build an organic list
Before you can send an email, you need people to send it to. You might be tempted to go buy a list of 50,000 email addresses from a marketing company, and then blast an email to them and hope for the best.
However, that kind of "cold call" email rarely does well, and can even turn people off from your brand. Instead, you want to start creating your own list with your existing customers and potential customers. That automatically gives you a connection that makes it more likely they'll open and click.
You can get email addresses a few ways. If you run an online store, you can put a widget on your site that lets people sign up. Put a link to your signup page on Facebook or Twitter so your followers can easily find it. Mass-mailing services like MailChimp can provide you with a signup form, or even an embedded widget in paid plans, so you don't have to do anything.
For a brick and mortar store, ask people during checkout if they want to give their email address to sign up for your newsletter. You can do the same thing if you talk to customers or potential customers on the phone.
Of course, you'll need to give people a reason to sign up. That means you need to have an idea of what kind of emails you want to send. Maybe you want to highlight new products, offer exclusive deals, announce fun store events, provide tips in your area of expertise, all of the above, or something else completely.
As an example, here at Komando.com we have a wide range of emails we send daily and weekly that cover Helpful Tips, Daily News, Must-see Videos, information on Android and Apple, product deals and more. Sign up for these newsletters today and see everything that we have to offer.
Whatever you do, it's always good to start with emails that include a deal or exclusive promo code, like we do with our Kim's Insider promo email. That's what is going to convince most people to sign up.
Many people also like to forward emails with good deals or useful information to their friends. That's when your company name starts to spread. Be sure to have a link in the email so new people can sign up to get your email themselves. Put a little note to the effect of, "If you got this email as a forward, click here to sign up so you can get these great deals in your inbox."
2. Write a good subject line
Even after someone signs up to receive your emails, there's no guarantee they're going to open them. After all, your email is competing with dozens or hundreds of other emails in their inbox. So, you need to make a compelling reason for them to open it; and you only have a handful of words to do it.
So focus on the value the newsletter will provide to your reader. If you're sending out an email highlighting a new product, don't just say, "New product in our store." Say what the product is going to do for people, such as "Dry paint faster with our new product."
Whether your email is about deals or information, it has to make a case for what the person is going to get out of it if they open. Get more steps and details for writing subject lines readers will want to click.
The same rules apply to the inside of the email. You're going to need a strong call to action to get the reader to your store or website. Action verbs are key, such as "Click here," "Buy now," "Get more details," etc. Just putting a link that says "More details" isn't as compelling.
3. Know when and how often to send
In real estate, it's all about location, but in business it's all about timing. The timing of your email can make a big difference in how successful it is.
Some of that is obvious. For example, if you send an email on February 14 containing deals for Valentine's Day, you're not going to get much traffic. Instead, send one out the first week of February when people are thinking about buying presents.
Then send another email on the last day people can order and still get their items shipped in time. Be sure to include "Last day to order" in the subject line. That adds urgency and grabs the attention of the procrastinators, which is most people.
However, holidays aren't the only thing you need to think about. When you send in the week and even the time of day can have an impact. Unfortunately, that impact is going to be depending on your subscribers and what you're sending.
You'll need to play around with days and times to find what works best for you. You might find that your subscribers react to a new product email best on Monday morning when they're not quite back into the swing of work yet. However, a deal email might be best on the Friday evening of pay day, and an information email might do better Saturday when they have time to read something longer.
That leads us to the question of how often you send email. Depending on your business and the content, you might decide it works well on a regular schedule, or just around special holidays and events.
If you're sending on a regular schedule, keep it to once a week or every two weeks to start. Later, you might start "daily deals" or other daily content, but you'll want time to get the hang of creating compelling emails first.
For email centered on holidays and special events, plan out your emails on a calendar months in advance with conservative deadlines. Since these emails are a bit more all-or-nothing, you want to have the design and messaging done early. In fact, create a few designs and send them out a week early to smaller group of subscribers and see which ones does the best. That's the one you want to send to your entire list.
Finding the right schedule, and best day and times for emails, is going to take a while, but that's OK. Email marketing isn't a get-rich-quick scheme (that's called "spam"), it's about building a connection with your customer base and providing value. So take a long view and make minor tweaks until it comes together.