You’ve heard that email marketing works. In all likelihood, you yourself have purchased products or services as a direct result of email marketing. You’ve probably had that “Subscribe To My Newsletter” form on your site for years…and you have probably collected half a dozen email addresses. Sound about right?
You are not alone. I cannot count how many times I encounter businesses that simply don’t understand the fundamentals of email marketing campaigns. Fear and ignorance stops far too many people from taking advantage of the tremendous benefits that can come from email campaigns. Beyond fear, what stops just as many is the fact that they have never successfully been able to build or compile a worthwhile list of email addresses. Today I simply want to dispel a little fear, educate you a bit, and help you to take advantage of a list that you already have access to that you are probably not utilizing. I’ll give you a personal example, the actual email that I used, and I’ll tell you the results.
First, before we go any further, if you’ve never built or set up an email marketing service, do so now (or like, immediately after you leave this post). There are countless providers out there like Constant Contact, I want to personally recommend MailChimp. Just a few reasons for this recommendation:
- They are an Atlanta based company, so…this is me rooting for the home team.
- The service is FREE for up to 2000 subscribers and up to 12,000 emails per month.
- Their Blog is an excellent resource to learn more about their platform as well as general email marketing tactics and tips.
- The interface is not only intuitive and easy to navigate, it’s actually fun!
- They make creating and/or customizing email templates quick and easy.
- After you send a campaign, the reports that they provide contain valuable and actionable insights that can help you to learn more about your subscribers and their behavior.
- It scales. Beyond the simple and easy to use tools and interface, the platform has more robust features like A/B testing, segmenting, and automation that you can utilize as you learn and grow.
Totally Random Bonus Tip:
I’m actually going to copy and paste this blog post and send it out on Monday morning to the exact same people that I sent the example below to. I think I’ll use a subject line (more about this important item later) something like, “Because I Dared To Send This On A Monday…” The point here is that coming up with content for an email campaign isn’t as hard as you might think. Maybe you wrote a great blog post…use it! Maybe you have some valuable information that folks could surely use. Maybe something is going on within your industry or there’s a common pain point and you have a solution. Also, if you’re just getting started, you really have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Just commit and follow through. Do it. Tell me you’ll give it a try?
Now, about that list that you DON’T have yet:
If you are using email for your business, you DO have a list! Whether you’ve been in business for one year or for ten, I’m pretty sure you use email to correspond with customers, clients, leads, vendors, service providers, colleagues, peers, and even friends and family. Maybe you use Gmail, or Widows Live, or Outlook, it doesn’t matter which – You can export ALL of your contacts into a spreadsheet. I’m not going to go into how to do this for every email client. Simply Google “How to export contacts from Gmail (or whatever email client you use). It’s pretty painless.
Think about it, all of those people have corresponded with you in the past and most are going to be business related as we’re pulling from your business email account, right? Some are leads that grew cold or you didn’t follow up with. Some are clients, some are people who’s services you utilize (Resume writers for example), and some were trying to market to you! Trust me, they will all come together and be a perfect first list.
Here is where the marketing professionals are out there are screaming at the screen yelling “That’s Spam! You can’t just send unsolicited emails to folks like that!” Bullshit, sure ya’ can. In corresponding via email with these people, both they and yourself have opted to disclose your email address to each other and invited reciprocal communications. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t argue that this isn’t getting a little into a grey area. This purely depends on your interpretation and definition of Spam. Here’s the nuts and bolts:
- You collected their email because they shared it with you
- You’re going to tell them why you are emailing them and how you got their email address
- They will have the option to opt-out/unsubscribe if they so desire.
When you send your first email campaign, some email addresses will bounce back, some people will opt-out, and some might even file a complaint. If the email police do show up at your door, tell em’ it’s all my fault and show them this post.
There, now you have a list. Save the list as a CSV file. When you open the file, there will be fields and columns with all sorts of information. Name, email, company, title, longitude…all sorts of stuff.
- Edit the document to keep only what you want. I myself delete everything except the name and email address.
- Go through the entire list and REMOVE anyone who you don’t want to market to, your mom for instance. You decide who is relevant or not.
- Now save the file.
- In your newly set up email marketing service (like MailChimp), look for the “import list” feature.
Bonus Tip #2:
You can also export an email list of all your connections on LinkedIn! *Note: LinkedIn JUST updated their interface, so you may have to look in a slightly different spot than the video shows. Check it out:
Build Your Email:
Go into the dashboard for whatever email marketing service you’ve signed up with and create your email. This means that you will have to:
- Follow along with their setup instructions and fill in all the proper information as you are guided through setting up your first campaign.
- Design how your email will look.
- Utilize their ready made templates. It’s very easy to drop in your logo, a pic of yourself, etc. If you can use email or create a Word doc…this is just as easy and there should be click and drag options, etc.
- Don’t go overboard with bling. It’s probably best that you appear professional. Pick a subtle theme/template. The information and components of your email itself are way more important than looking like you’re still living in the MySpace era.
- Now figure out what you are going to say. Your content should be valuable. Give people a reason to want to engage further with you. That’s not saying you can’t be funny, empathetic, or entertaining as well. Please do add a little levity, etc.
- This IS marketing, so remember to add a Call To Action.
About that Call To Action:
You’re not just reaching out to say hello or to simply give away your best tips and advice. You are trying to make people aware of what sets you apart and/or makes you the authority on what you do. You are trying to educate and inform people about a topic so that if they are in need of what you provide, you stay at the top of their mind. People always chose to do business with people that they like, know, and trust. Every email you send is an opportunity to build on all of these. BUT…you have to include a clear and easy way to engage further. You can see the button in my email below. Don’t just put a button at the bottom asking them to get in touch and link them to your contact page on your website…or take them to a blog post or a product page. Try to give them some incentive to engage further.
For me, as a consultant, I use email to fill the top of my marketing funnel. My call to action filters interested people to a landing page See it HERE) that I built on my site to get them into my pipeline and also to sort of “pre-qualify” them. The free 30 minute consultation is the incentive…the form they fill out informs me about their needs and interest in paying for marketing services or consultation. I hope the light bulb is shining in your mind and that you are following me.
Subject Lines and Time of Day:
Subject lines are super-important. You know this because it’s the first thing after the sender that you see in your inbox. That subject line alone can make or break your open rate. it IS the introduction. It’s what compels a person to click and open/read the email or send it to the trash or skip it. This one thing needs to be thought out carefully. Put every effort into crafting a great and compelling subject line.
The time of day when you send out your campaign matters. Again, it can make or break your open rate. People are busy and we all hate email during the work day. Take Mondays and Fridays. Monday is all about the hustle and bustle of getting back in the groove after the weekend. People’s inboxes are also more full with spam and the like after two days off. Fridays, well if you’re like me, and I think most people are, I’m counting down to 5PM and I DO NOT want to get involved or follow through with something new on a Friday.
Now you’d think that between 9-5 on Tuesday-Thursday would be great, right? I don’t find this to be true. And again, think of yourself…how do you behave? I myself get up at 5AM everyday and I’ve handled most of my email by the time 9AM hits. People DO read work emails from home on their phones long before they get to the office. They also do the same after they get home in the evenings. Give them some time to unwind, say hello to the spouse and kids, and eat. I usually send my campaigns out before 7:30AM Tuesday-Thursday or after 6:30PM on those same days. Just put some thought into how your audience behaves and send out your campaigns at the most respectful and available times.
Oh yeah! Frequency – I feel like once a month for campaigns is a safe and effective number. Hit people too often and they just get frustrated by hearing from you. Judge for yourself though. Based on whatever it is that you do or deliver, more or less frequently may work for you. You may be a person who sells a product online. A once-a-week email highlighting new products wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Use your best judgement.
After The Campaign:
MailChimp (or whoever you decide to use) will provide you with quite a bit of data. They will tell you how many emails were successfully delivered. They will tell you how many opened the email, and how many times they opened it. They will tell you how many and who clicked your links (read: call to action). They will tell you who unsubscribed and why. All of this information is valuable. For example, if “Susie” opened my email 17 times, its a pretty safe bet that what I delivered provided some value to her. I can feel pretty safe in the knowing that I might hear from her via my call to action soon. And if I don’t, I reach back out to “Susie” and start a conversation about the email. It’s up to you to mine the data and find the useful bits. The more campaigns you send out, the more the data will shape and improve your campaign results.
Below is the actual email I sent about a week ago using a list from my contacts. I use email marketing for my business using lists that I’ve built or paid for in the past, but I’d never just exported contacts from my email account.
- My exported list was 1900+ email addresses.
- I weeded that down to 1552. I removed people that didn’t make sense anymore (clients from my past companies that reached out to me on this particular address instead of my then company email)
- My open rate was 48.6%
- The 651 people who opened the email opened it 1178 times!
- 59 unsubscribed and 1 complained
- 20+ people hit reply and reached out to talk or tell me how I knew them.
- One person reached out via Facebook.
- Several people just picked up the phone and called me.
- Only 1 person actually filled out my form, we are meeting next week. He’s an old client that needs my services again.
- I landed a HUGE new client that will keep me busy for the next year at least.
- I still have 3 more consultations to schedule/deliver.
So that’s it. That’s all I wanted to say today. I hope you found some value or encouragement here today. Feel free to share this with anyone that you feel might could benefit from the information. As for you, if you’ve read down this far, I will expect to be hearing from you soon via email. I’ll be kinda’ pissed if I don’t!
Carry on and be awesome! Never hesitate to reach out to me if there’s ever anything I can do for you. I appreciate all of you.
That’s it. Back to work with you!