Sending out your first email campaign can be both terrifying and extremely rewarding.
Whether your a brand new company or you’ve been in business for years but want to take your sales and lead generation effort to the next level, email marketing has the highest roi out of any marketing channel (link please). So it’s well worth your time.
However, just like every other medium, email has it’s own sets of rules and best practices. So before you dive right in you’re going to want to be familiar with the basics.
Let’s get you educated.
What is email marketing?
Email marketing (or email advertising) involves sending messages to a predefined list of people using email. This is a form of direct marketing and is used to nurture leads, sell products or services, and communicate with current customers.
When used correctly, email marketing is an extremely powerful tool to position yourself as an authority with your audience, generate intersest for your business, and increase revenue. This is because folks are used to reading their inboxes multiple times a day (soure please), and so you are likely to be able to get a lot of exposure.
Also, once you have an email, unless your messages are intrusive and completely unwatned, you will have access to those email address and the user for awhile. This is a huge shift in traditional outbound marketing strategy which involves having to contact your prospects in less wanted ways like setting up a meeting or calling them on the phone.
Pick your service provider wisely
The first step when getting started with a new campaign is to select an email service provider. These are typically referred to as email automation platforms.
There is no right or wrong platform (although some are certainly higher quality than others) for your business. But you do want to consider your budget, target audience, and strategy early on so that you can match the correct service with your aspirations.
The following providers are three of the best email marketing platforms available if you are just getting started. All of them offer easy sign ups, simple interfaces, pre defined templates, and offer stellar support. Let’s take a look at the differences.
Mailchimp is our go to platform for the novice email marketer. It offers a freemium business model with an easy to set up process, and forever free plan with up to 2000 subscribers and 12000 emails sent per month.
Some main features include:
- Free sign up
- Pre built email templates
- Manage multiple campaigns and lists
- Fantastic support with tons of resources
Their services integrate wonderfully with popular content management systems like WordPress and Shopify, so it’s easy to use your website to help build your email lists as well.
Constant contact is a great provider if you’re an established business. Their pricing includes a free 30 day trial as well and then goes up depending on how many subscribers you have on your list. While the pricing is a little on the stiff side, they offer a number of robust features that help make your campaigns simple.
- Free stock photo library
- Design, subject line, and send time split testing
- Powerful autoresponder
- Templates separated into specific industries
If you’re looking to expand your email list and grow your already establiished marketing efforts, constant contact is a great way to do so. This service is great for mid sized to large companies who are looking to upgrade.
Aweber is another easy to use email marketing software. They pride themselves on having an intuitive interface and make creating and customizing your email campaign a piece of cake. You also receive a free 30 day trial to test out all of their features before you sign up.
Can’t beat that.
Their main features are:
- Simple email automation
- Drag and drop templates
- A huge list of integrations like WordPress and LeadPages
This service is the go to for businesses of all sizes due to the completeness of their offering. The company has been around for awhile and is a one stop shop for all of your email marketing needs.
Having a good provider is crucial not only when it comes to managing your email list and sending out messages, but it can also allow you to automate responses and help your lead gen process. You are able to set up specific message flows that list members receive that are triggered by certain actions. Or promise a piece of valuable content to your audience in exhcange for their contact information, then send them the content automatically upon sign up.
The possibilities are endless.
Now that you’ve selected where you’re going to send the emails from, it’s time to get started on the actual campaign.
Set up your campaign
Creating your first email is always a challenge. You’re going to have to go through a few growing pains and figure out your preferred writing style as well as what content your audience responds best too.
However, there are a few best practices to get you on the right path.
Segment your email list
An email list segement is simply the process of putting your subscribers into different categories based on how they signed up, demographic information, or any other devisive metric. It is not so much important to follow specific segmentation rules, as it is to be clear about how you’re segmenting and having a good reason for it.
If you’re importing contacts for your list, or if you have multiple lead magets or offerings, be sure to segment each audience in a different category. Each of your groups will be people with unique perspectives, interests, and business challenges.
Choose a template
Like any other design element associated with your business, your email template needs to be consistet with your branding guidelines.
Select a template that is clean, simple, and doesn’t envoke negative emotion from users. In general, stay away from flashy or overly done templates as this will trigger the feeling of being sold to in a user’s mind. Instead, go with a design that feels similar to other emails a user is likely to receive in their inbox.
Familiarity is important within an email campaign.
Date and times matter
As you probably already know, most people are bombarded with hundreds of emails a day, and due to marketing insights, they are likelyto get the bulk of these within the same periodds of time.
That’s why it’s imperative to consider when you’re sending out the emails and create a strateg that will be best for your specific subscriber base. Give thoguht to the following:
- Time zone. Are your users i the same time zone, separate zones? You may have to segment users by time zone if the gap is too wide.
- Day of the week. Some days make more sense than others. If you’re a business that sells software to IT management companies, Friday night is not goign to be a good time to send out your newsletter with a coupon for services. Choose a day when your users are likely to be in business mode and looking at thier email frqeuently.
- Time of day. Same as the day of the week. Avoid 10am on a monday if you have a 3000 word in depth post about effective time managment because most users are likely to be busy at work during this time. Consider the journey of your target audience. Put yourself in their shoes.
- Seasonality. Not all seasons are created equal. If you have a product offering that depends on a specific season or time of year, or a season promotion, don’t let users kknow about it until the apporpriate time. But you should plan ahead of time for these and build out the campaign in advanced.
Tips for writing emails your audience will love
Once you’ve developed a great email list, found the perfect provider, and designed a campaign flow, you’ve got the most important job of all left.
Sending out actual emails.
It may seem like once you have the email addresses you’re in the clear, but that’s not the case. Now you’ve got to carefully craft messages tha twill resonate with your users, and allow them to see the value in your brand so you can encourage them to take the desired actions.
Here are four important factors to keep in mind when creating the perfect email.
- Keep it casual (not salesly)
Nobody likes being sold to. Emails that are overly pushy or sales oriented will not yield the best results for your campaign. Your user’s inbox is a sacred place, so engage with them like you would if you were sending them an email personally.
- Use a plain text or light html template
Since the separation of primary, social, and promotional emails in the gmail inbox, the format of your emails is crucial to consider. If you want to engage more personally with your users and have your emails delievered straight into their inbox, then plain text emails are best. Forget about the logos, images, 10+ links, and other needless additions. Focus on crafting a great message with 1-2 calls to action throughout.
- Be consistent
Nothing ruins progress like a lack of consistency. If you stick to a schedule of sending your users content and email updates regualrly, they will get used to the thought of hearing from you and will engage accordingly. But if you don’t, you will fall out of mind and won’t get the same type of responses. Sending useful and engaging messages consistently will build trust with your audience.
- Consider your specific audience and provide them value
Crafting a great message means nothing if it’s not intended for the proper audience. When you’re creating an email campaign and an email funnel for users, you’ve got to think about who is receiving the messages. What are their needs, wants, problems, and goals in life? How could your product, service, or knowledge help them out specifically?