Starting Your First Email Marketing Campaign
03 Aug 2012
Online marketing is an ever-changing exercise for businesses. Social Media, SEO, WPO, and content marketing are all excellent inbound marketing methods to increase traffic and awareness online.
In the real world marketers use sales calls and door-to-door pitches to try and connect directly with a potential customer.
They are out there trying to find their next customer rather than relying on the customer to find them. Unfortunately there’s no front door on the internet to knock on but there is one form of marketing that duplicates the door-to-door aspects of customer acquisition.
What is an Email Marketing Campaign?
Before we can build and execute an email marketing campaign we first need to understand what email marketing is.
Definition: Email marketing is defined as the direct marketing of a commercial or promotional message to a group of email recipients.
Basically put, you build an email list of interested contacts and send them all the same promotional message. In most cases the email message contains an advertisement, a direct sales quote or a request for donations.
In general the purpose of an email marketing campaign is to:
- send email messages to establish relationships with merchants, previous customers or to encourage customer loyalty and ultimately repeat business
- send email messages to acquire new customers or convince current customers to purchase something immediately
- send advertisements in email messages to existing customers
How it Works?
Email marketing isn’t complicated but it does take a structured approach to execute properly, and to get results. We’ll show how it works using the example below:
Joan runs an online company that sells seeds to farmers and garden enthusiasts. Each order is submitted by email and each email is then added to a contact list.
Every few months Joan has a site-wide sale with every item discounted for a limited time. She drafts an email with detailed information on her sales event and sends it to each member on her massive customer contact list.
Joan knows each person she emails has some degree of interest in her products, having already made at least one purchase, which means the chance of repeat business is likely very high. Especially with a sale on.
There are many ways to capture emails online outside of the sales process. Offering free downloads of how-to’s or subscribing to an active blog are both common ways of building up an email list and targeting new and repeat business.
5 Basics Steps to Starting Your First Email Marketing Campaign
Getting started on your first email marketing campaign doesn’t have to be tough. Knowing the basic framework of an email marketing plan will help your business succeed on your first try.
1) Get setup and get the right tools
When you need to build a house you show up with the right tools. Email marketing campaigns are much the same.
Email Account – This is really basic but you can’t run an email marketing campaign without one, so, make sure you have an email account ready to handle your activity.
When using a web-based or hosted email account ensure your account settings are set to unlimited bandwidth. Going over your bandwidth limit can come with overage fees and you’ll also miss emails as a result.
Google’s Gmail offers a professional business email service with personalization options that works well for those without a website or a hosted email plan.
Gauge your audience accordingly, and pick the right email service for your business.
MailChimp – MailChimp helps you design email marketing campaigns, share them on social networks and track your results. It’s like your own publishing platform that integrates your email account for easy to build and use personalized campaigns.
If you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers, you can send up to 12,000 emails per month absolutely free. There’s no expiring trial, contract, or credit card required. And the statistical analysis that’s available free of charge is amazing.
As a paying customer, you can send more than 12,000 emails a month, access additional features, and remove MailChimp’s badge from your campaign footers.
Check out MailChimp’s resources page for detailed information on how to use MailChimp and run effective campaigns.
2) Build an email list
We touched on this topic briefly earlier in the article. Here’s our full list of ways to capture those valuable email addresses:
- Transaction – capture emails as part of, or an option included in, the sales process
- Call-to-action – downloads and how-to’s are free and open source after providing an email on your website
- User sign-up – get access to user exclusive areas and content with an account. Signup requires an email address
- Subscribe – make following your blog content easy with automated emailed versions and notifications. Subscribing requires an email address
- Cross promote – message social media users about your previous 4 offers and capture their email
3) Make a plan
You’ve setup your tools, and you’ve built up an email list to be envied. Now what?
It’s time to make a plan.
Make sure you have a clear message in mind. Are you promoting awareness of your business? Advertising a new product or service? Or informing potential customers about a mega-sale coming next week?
Have one message per email campaign and say it clearly. Take the time to edit each and every character in your message. Misprinted prices and incorrect information can cost your business an arm and a leg if you’re not careful.
4) Email your groups
Once your message is written, edited and edited again it’s time to send out your first email campaign.
Over time you’ll have some people on your list as repeat customers. One useful strategy is to create two or three email lists, one with repeat customers, another with single purchase customers and a third with potential customers.
Sending them different messages at different frequencies can impact your rate of responses.
Having small incentives can also increase your returns. Attaching coupons or rebate offers can build your success in email marketing even more.
5) Track and replan
As your lists grow and you go through more and more campaigns it’s important track your success and to take note of your loyal customers.
Over time it will become necessary to build separate campaign lists to accommodate your various levels of customers and potentials. Always keep a master list on hand with all email addresses included for your really big announcements.
Some message types will have more success than others. Keep track of which messages perform well and which ones have low return. Your audience might be more receptive to one message type over another.
Constantly assessing and re-adjusting your campaigns will help your message have a higher percentage of responses and generate more revenue for your business.
Download our How To Create Email Marketing Campaigns That Don’t Suck Whitepaper and launch your first email marketing campaign today!
Email Marketing Tips
Here’s a few general tips and tricks to keep you on track during your campaigns:
- Make sure your contact list has an opt out button or link. It’s important to let customers and email list members have control over the messaging process. Not having an opt-out feature can cause some pretty bad press. Let your customers decide.
- Separate cold customers from hot ones. If a customer has bought more than once as a result or in reaction to a campaign put them on a special repeat customer list. Maybe they deserve a special offer in the future?
- Don’t message too much. Getting inside people’s mailboxes too often can have the opposite effect that you’re looking for and result in a high number of opt-outs.
- Edit and fact check your messages thoroughly. Once you hit the send button there’s no turning back on your message.
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