Email Marketing Tips: a step by step guide

Email marketing, when done well, can be a very cost-effective way of reaching your target audience.

It can help you to build and maintain good relationships with prospective customers, existing clients and partners, and spread the word about your products and services.

This article guides you through the process of starting an email marketing campaign, step by step.

Step 1: Decide what your campaign is for.

The key to a successful email marketing campaign is getting your aims and objectives right from the start.

You need to decide:

  • What the purpose of your campaign is
  • To find new customers?
  • To get additional business?
  • To build on your relationships with clients or prospects?
  • Who should receive the emails
  • Who are you targeting?
  • What are their interests? What would they be looking for, and why would they be interested in hearing from you?
  • How often should you send them

Generally speaking, there are not many situations where it is advisable to email people more than once a fortnight. Once a month is quite a good frequency – any more often, and you may annoy people – any less often, and they may have forgotten who you are in between.

Step 2: Get your mailing list together

When compiling or purchasing a mailing list, it is essential to make sure you stay the right side of the law.

If you’re collecting email addresses yourself of people with whom you do not have an existing trading relationship, and if you’re emailing individuals rather than generic business addresses such as info@, then you then you must get prior consent.

This can take a variety of forms, but the basic premise is that the user should understand that they are consenting and  know what they are signing up for.

For more information on this issue, read the helpful guide on the following website:
http://www.out-law.com/page-5657

If you are buying or renting an email address, ask the supplier about where the data has come from and what you can send to the users on the list. Bear in mind that results from rented lists are frequently poor and can harm your reputation, because the users on the list don’t know you. Many reputable email software providers will not allow you to use a list that you have not built yourself.

Step 3: Decide what software to use

Although it may seem like the ‘easy approach’ to simply use your own email package – like Outlook for example - to conduct an email marketing campaign, we would very much discourage you from doing so. You can risk having your email address blacklisted.

In addition, you have a lot of other limitations:

  • You will not be able to do anything sophisticated with graphics in your emails

  • It will be difficult to manage unsubscribes. You must provide an easy mechanism for your users to unsubscribe from your email campaigns. If you were using a standard email package you would then have to remember to remove them by hand from your mailing list

  • You will not be able to get statistics showing you how many people have opened your emails / clicked on links and so on.

You must also make sure that subscribers’ email addresses are concealed from fellow subscribers. If you’re using a standard email package, this means putting them into the “bcc” field, rather than “to” or “cc”.

A better alternative would be to use a specialist email marketing software package, which would enable you to send out emails laid out like web pages, containing graphics (‘HTML emails’), make it easier to deal with unsubscribes and obtain useful statistics to help you measure the success of your campaigns. This software is usually either paid for on a monthly or annual subscription basis, or with a fee per message sent, or a combination of both. Many of these software packages are actually free at the most basic level, so there really is no valid reason not to use the proper software.

Step 4: Decide the content of your first message

First impressions count, and therefore getting your first message right is crucial. You are going to need to think about:

  • Giving the email an arresting title that induces people to click on it

  • Creating some compelling content – either in terms of interesting articles, or good products or special offers, depending on what you are aiming to do

  • Making sure that you can live up to your first email in subsequent messages!

You can choose either to put all of the content into the email itself, or even better, look at including ‘teaser’ paragraphs which lead on to the full articles on your website. If you direct visitors through to your website, you will be able to see from your website Analytics package what they did after they arrived on the site – did they bounce straight back out again, or hang around, reading multiple pages and maybe even submitting an enquiry?

Step 5: Giving your email a visual impact

Even if you’re not using HTML emails (emails with graphics in them), you still need to think about the layout of your email.

The key here is simplicity – make it easy for your visitors to find what they’re looking for, and make sure the information is easy to read.

Space out paragraphs and separate articles. If you do have the ability to use graphics, don’t go too over the top. Remember that every image you add increases the time it will take for your message to download in your user’s inbox.

Make sure that you have a good reason for including each image, and make sure you compress that image to as small a file size as possible.

If you’re trying to build a personal relationship with your subscribers, a photo of yourself can be a good (if slightly embarrassing) idea.

Step 6: Measure your success

If you don’t put in place a way of measuring your success, you won’t know whether or not your campaign has achieved its objectives.

If you are using an email marketing package, you should have access to statistics about your emails as part of the service. This may give you information such as:

  • How many people have opened the message

  • How may have clicked on the links to your website

  • How many have unsubscribed

  • …and so on.

If you’re also directing subscribers through to specific sections of your website from your email newsletter, you should also be able to track what happened to those visitors on arrival at your website using your website statistics package.

By following these six steps, you should be able to construct an email marketing campaign that works for you – or at least know whether it works for you or not!

This article was provided by Helen Culshaw of Ascendancy Internet Marketing. If you need help with any aspect of email marketing, contact Helen on 01952 462845 or helen@ascendancyinternetmarketing.com.

Please note that this article is not written by WiRE but by a third party company. Whilst WiRE have made every effort to ensure that the information and details are accurate, we are unable to guarantee that they completely and WiRE are therefore unable to accept liability for any loss you may suffer as a result of omission or inaccuracy