Monthly Archives: December 2017

Smart Business Email Marketing

Today email marketing is one of the primary ways that businesses stay in touch with customers and partners. However, managing your own email marketing can be cumbersome and time consuming. Trying to stay on top of the constant changes in an email marketing address list can be a full time job. Then there are the challenges involved in composing and sending out effective emails. How do you ensure that people will read it? How do you get them to respond? How do you know how many recipients have responded? Fortunately you don’t have to do all of this alone. A cloud-based firm that specializes in business to business communications can make your job a lot easier – and your campaigns a lot more effective.

Elements of a Successful Email:

Subject Line: This may seem like only a small part of your email marketing project, but it’s one of the most important. 40% of a recipient’s decision to open a given piece of email is based on the subject and send-from address. If they don’t open the email, it’s not going to do you much good. So, it’s important to spend some time on the subject line and make sure it’s effective and accurate.

Call to Action: Another 40% of the response to your email marketing campaign is driven by how interesting and compelling recipients find your call to action. A call to action is an offer you’re making to the recipient – or an opportunity for them to respond in some way. It might be a white paper or the chance to register for a free webinar. Or it might be “please call me at…” or “please email me at….” Or “register for our conference at….” However, the best calls to action in email marketing are the ones with links right in the email. This allows you to automatically track the response to the email and see how well your call to action works.

Content: The text and images in your email need to be informative and useful to your recipients. The email marketing texts must be well-written and concise. While recipients expect an emailed newsletter to be fairly long, they would expect other kinds of emails to get to the point quickly. If the email marketing piece is too long, your reader will simply stop reading – maybe before getting to the important information.

Visual Appeal: Any pictures you include in your email marketing piece might seem like a non-essential element, but they are a vital component of making your email visually interesting. And, captions of pictures are one of the first things people read in an email, so they pack a lot of punch. You also want your emails to be well-laid out, visually appealing, and attractive. You need to be able to create beautiful emails in either html or plain text – since some recipients will only accept emails in one format or another. Good email marketing companies will have templates and tools to help you create beautiful emails.

Avoid Spam: If your email marketing piece is flagged as spam, it won’t make it to your recipient. Even worse, it could be in violation of CAN-SPAM regs. In order to avoid being caught in the spam filter or sent to the spam folder, make sure your header and subject line are accurate. Include a valid opt-out method. Certain words are more likely to trigger a spam designation; you should know what they are so you can avoid them. Spam designations can damage your business’s reputation and the acceptance rate of future campaigns.

Elements of a Successful Email Marketing Campaign:

So you’ve created a visually pleasing, compelling, and effective email that you want to send out to your email marketing list. Now what? You could take the time and effort to send it out yourself. Or, you could hire a company to do it for you. Such businesses simplify the process considerably. They will maintain your list of subscribers, deleting invalid addresses or unsubscribe requests. They will provide easy-to-use templates that will help you create attractive email pieces. They will track responses to your email campaign – even recording which recipients opened the emails. They can monitor the results of your campaign so that you can make the next email marketing campaign even more effective.

Subscriber Management: If you’re always sending emails to invalid addresses and aren’t honoring unsubscribe requests, it can damage your reputation – and the deliverability of your emails. An email marketing service should automatically remove invalid addresses and un-subscriptions – along with any contacts that should be globally banned. But, you also want a service that will look at emails that bounce back and figure out why. Sometimes technical problems can be addressed so that the email marketing message can be re-sent successfully.

Collecting Addresses: Since you probably already have a list of email marketing addresses, you want a service that will allow you to seamlessly import your list into their service. The email marketing service should also be able to create a database with information about those addresses. They should provide simple methods for interested parties to add their email addresses to your list – for instance, by using a lead capture form linked from your website.

Recipient Targeting: If you’re sending out a reminder email, you usually send it to everyone who was on the first list. But, what if you could just send it to the people who didn’t respond to the previous email? That way you don’t need to bug the people who have already responded! Or what if you could send emails just to those people who visited your website recently? Don’t you want a service that can provide this level of targeting? If you monitor your recipients’ behavior and tailor your email marketing campaign accordingly, you will greatly enhance the chances of success.

Reporting: Each campaign constitutes an opportunity to learn more about your customer base. But you won’t learn if you don’t gather the information. Look for an email marketing solution that will create in-depth reports for you. You want to know how many recipients responded to your email’s call to action, how many people opened your email, how many unsubscribed, how many bounced back, and if any got caught in the spam filter. You want reports with the flexibility to show you data for weeks, months, or other time periods. This information is invaluable in planning your marketing strategy and refining your next email marketing campaign.

Design: You want a service that will help you design attractive, effective messages. Look for one with templates for newsletters and other kinds of emails that can be customized for your business. Or, if you want to design in another program, you need an email marketing service that will allow you to seamlessly paste emails created in MS Word, Frontpage, or other html editors. Look for a service that is intuitive and easy to use and that offers what-you-see-is-what-you-get editing. So you know that what you see on screen is exactly what your recipients will receive.

Spam: You want a service that adheres to all the CAN-SPAM regulations and observes all best practices. Choose a service that will evaluate all elements of your email – html coding, header, links, tags – for spam triggers. You want a service that can score the likelihood of a spam label and will suggest necessary changes. A good email marketing service can also record instances of messages being caught in spam filters and help you avoid that fate in the future.

Your Business Can Succeed With Email Marketing

Email marketing is not a new concept by any means, but several businesses are still not embracing this marketing concept as well as they should be. There are several worries that come along with email marketing, such as:

- Won’t my emails be treated as spam?

- Is it a waste of time?

- In the end, is it going to help my business that much?

Some businesses are going to say that the time that is devoted to email marketing is not worth it for them, that the profits they may earn from this do not even start to pay for the time that they invest. The truth is that when it comes to marketing, most studies have shown that email marketing does better than other marketing methods, including the use of social media. This does not mean to dismiss the other marketing methods, as a healthy marketing plan is one that utilizes various marketing techniques to complete the marketing goals.

How Email Marketing Works

It is best to think of email marketing just as any other marketing method, minus the use of a printer, paper and ink. Emails can be sent that have what would normally be sent in the mail as postcards announcing a new sale upcoming, a new item or even giving coupons to valued customers. The route in which they do this is to collect email addresses from current customers and potential customers. The best route to do this is to have a collection area on your website. For example, a call to action box that allows customers or potential customers to sign up for email offers. This allows you to legally obtain the email address and use this to send email marketing material to.

There are companies out there that are providing bulk email lists. However, there are dangers to this that need to be discussed. You need to understand that you can only send emails to those whom you have permission to send this email to. Thus, buying email addresses is not always the best alternative. Keep in mind that the US has a CAN-SPAM Act, enacted in 2003, that spells out what a business can and cannot do in email marketing.

Understanding the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003

There are a few rules to keep in mind when sending email marketing materials:

A) Always ensure that your subject line relays what you are writing about and is in no way false or misleading. For example, a good subject line would be: Exclusive Sale for Loyal Customers Only 7/5! A misleading subject line would be: You have won $100!

B) Also ensure that the To and From are labeled accordingly, you need to ensure that your name or business name is represented so that readers can see who sent the message

C) At the end of the email there has to be an opt-out link. You must give readers the option to quit receiving your email marketing messages if they so choose.

D) All email communication that is sent as an advertisement has to include this information in the communication. In addition, there needs to be a physical address of the company listed in the email.

Businesses who are found to be guilty in abusing marketing strategies via email can be fined up to $11,000. Worse, they can lose the right to send email or even lose the right to have a website for the infraction.

Types of Email Marketing

Almost anything can be emailed to customers or potential customers. For the most part, businesses that utilize email marketing can be put into one of three categories:

1. Promotional Emails: These emails are meant to show any promotions that may be ongoing, and are meant to encourage a customer to buy a product or to keep buying products due to the sale/low price.

2. Regular communication: These emails are meant as a way to stay in touch with customers. It is basically a way to reach out and keep a customer as your customer, thus inspiring brand loyalty.

3. Advertisement emails: These are similar to promotional emails, though they can be sent as a postcard type of email that is colorful, has sparse information that simply says the advertisement. For example: 20% off online purchases: Today Only!

How This Will Help You

It is simple: email marketing is a way to reach current customers and find new customers! There are 5 important aspects that email marketing can help with:

1. Email Marketing can increase the sales that you are seeing.

2. Through email marketing you ensure that your business is always on consumers minds.

3. With the use of email you are helping to ensure that customers are repeat customers.

4. This can help to establish that you are the business to turn to for a certain product or service.

5. You are building and maintaining relationships with customers through sending emails.

Starting Email Marketing

There are several programs out there which are designed to help get your email marketing program off to a great start. But, first you need the email addresses. One of the best methods for this is to have a way for customers to sign up for emails from your business. A great way to do this is to have a sign up form on your website. Another method is to collect these email addresses when purchases or orders are made for this purpose.

There are several programs on the market that can be utilized as a way to send out mass emails to those contacts that you have. A few examples of these programs are:

- Constant Contact

- Campaigner

- iContact

- Mailigen

Effective Email Marketing for Authors

One of the best ways for authors to alert their readers as to new works is to stay in contact with them from the start. While it is recommended that authors frequently update their author websites (via articles and/or blogs), it is not reasonable to expect the majority of their readers to continue returning to the site for more information month after month and year after year. Life simply gets in the way. While RSS feeds can assist in keeping the author in front of their audience, email marketing really is the best option since it affords more control of the marketing campaign and allows for an increased level of personal involvement.

While there are a number of companies out there which will gladly take an author’s money in lieu of email marketing services, most remove the author from the equation and many are essentially spammers. The few who put in the required amount of time are very good, but expensive. As such, the independent author would be advised to take their own email marketing into their own hands. Without much effort or capital, any author can do just that.

Effective email marketing for authors can be fulfilled through simple tasks such as employing an email address collection mechanism, planning an email marketing campaign, designing and implementing an email marketing campaign, and revising email marketing campaigns according to the results. Any author, no matter how technologically astute or not they happen to be, can be an effective email marketer. They can connect with their readers, provide valuable content to them, and maximize profits by doing so.

EMAIL ADDRESS COLLECTION MECHANISM

Effective email marketing for authors starts with an effective email address collection mechanism. Typically this involves a simple submission application on the author’s website which allows the reader to submit their email address for updates. The best place for this is right next to a frequently updated blog. It’s also not a bad idea to place the same submission application on the website’s homepage. As such, when readers return to the site to search for updates, they are greeted by a submission box (which the author should think of as a tool). It could be of use to offer a free gift (a sample chapter, article, or raffle contest, perhaps) to entice the reader to submit their email address. By including a privacy policy — stating that the author and representatives will never share or sell submitted email addresses — readers will feel better about submitting their email addresses. After all, no one likes spam.

While some readers are wary of submitting more personal information than necessary, it never hurts to ask. The author might utilize a required field for an email address, but also include optional fields of first and last names and other identifying information (e.g., birthday, location of residence, etc.). In doing so, the information can be inputted into an email manager system, such as Constant Contacts (discussed later in this text), with personalized emails sent out to all of the recipients via the manager system. The software can address each email as if it were a personal email. It can also automatically update the email client list with all submitted information. As such, much of the grunt work is automatically handled for the author.

PLANNING THE EMAIL MARKETING CAMPAIGN

Once an email address is obtained, the author must craft an effective plan to utilize the reader email addresses. Some authors opt to create a biweekly or monthly e-newsletter. Others send out a teaser of new content periodically. While the end goal for the author is to sell more books (and ancillary services), the goal for the reader is to gain value. As such, correspondence with readers must focus on providing valuable content, not merely marketing to them. Emails should never feel like a sales pitch. They should feel informal and friendly. Authors could even survey their email subscribers to find out what they would be interested in receiving and to ensure that they aren’t coming across as a salesman, but as an expert in their field.

While teaser content and e-newsletters are common, some authors have pushed the envelope by offering subject-specific tools. For example, genre authors have been known to provide tips on writing in their genre via email, book reviews of other promising texts within their genres, and updates about their personal life (to make a personal connection with their readers). Others have integrated weekly podcasts or video chats. Even photos of the author could be a nice touch. Readers are primarily interested in useful content. As such, an author could even send out via email their recently published work (e.g., published articles, blogs, short stories, not new books which will be for sale) as it is published. This would be a great way to stay on readers’ minds and to ensure them of the value of being a part of the email list.

DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF EMAIL MARKETING CAMPAIGN

While there are a number of services out there which will assist with email marketing, the answer seems to be to work with less than more. Some firms will agree to blast out press releases, articles, and a whole lot of other information that essentially amounts to spam. This is not the way to go. The goal here is quality, not quantity. As such, a simple email manager such as ConstantContacts.com is probably the best way for the author to go since they offer the tools needed to manage and implement successful email marketing campaigns and for a low cost. While not recommended, if the author has less than 100 email subscribers, they could theoretically utilize their own Gmail, Yahoo, or MSN personal email account. This is not advisable, since functionality is limited and can run the risk of appearing as spam to the email recipients’ email providers. Hence, the email could go into their spam folder and their email address flagged for spam.
The author should keep in mind that these updates need not be glitzy or involved. Rather, a simple email of new content or a simple, easy to use e-newsletter would be preferable since their readers are most likely busy people. If the author desires to offer video or audio, they are advised to link to that content (which would ideally be housed on their author website) from the email or e-newsletter. Attachments or auto-loading software are rarely appreciated. Attachments in particular are looked at as suspect since they have been known to contain viruses.

If an author is having a challenging time deciding which way to go, then conducting relevant market research may be the answer. They could go to several of the websites of the authors which they enjoy, submit their email address, and review what is sent. While some authors might do a bad job, others will do a good job worth emulating. Like everything else authors do, they should search for the good, discard the bad, and improve upon what can be done better.

REVISING EMAIL MARKETING CAMPAIGN ACCORDING TO RESULTS

Quite simply, guessing is not an effective strategy when it comes to email marketing. As such, authors should think long and hard about what appears to be working, what isn’t working, and how to improve it. The author could also consider surveying a sampling of recipients to find what they like, don’t like, and what they’d like to see more of. If the author is utilizing a service like Constant Contacts, they will even be able to see how many of the recipients opened emails within each email campaign and what actions they took (e.g., clicking on links, printing the email, forwarding the email on to an associate) within it. As such, this adds vital data to the marketing matrix and plan moving forward. After experimenting with a few ideas in this regard, the author should start to see differences based upon their revisions. This will guide them on the path forward, and bit by bit the author will come to understand what works as they gain more experience in the email marketing realm.