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The Three Secrets to Profitable Email Marketing

September 21, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Don R. Crawley asked:

Legitimate email marketing is a great way to stay in touch with your customers and prospects. It’s inexpensive, fast, efficient, and environmentally friendly.

Email marketing allows you to target your customers and prospects by their particular interests, it allows you quickly announce special promotions (either planned promotions or impromptu promotions based on changing conditions).

Email is the perfect way to send a monthly newsletter. Email marketing’s efficiency was underscored in a study by the Direct Marketing Association which found that in 2005 email marketing returned an amazing $57.25 in revenue per dollar spent on it!

How can you get started with email marketing? Start by collecting your customers’ email addresses. Even if you don’t currently do email marketing, gather your customers’ email addresses now so that, when you decide to start communicating with your customers via email, you’ll already have a good list.

Have a sign-up sheet at each of your checkout counters or at your reception desk. Be sure to include a sign-up form on your website. Offer an incentive such as a monthly drawing from the collected email addresses.

Be sure to include a privacy statement on your forms and sign-up sheets such as, “Privacy notice: We don’t share your information with anyone.” (Of course, that means you can’t share that information ever.) Remember, email addresses are free (or very inexpensive) to gather.

Now, the three secrets to making email marketing a winner for your business.

Secret number one: Do only “permission-based” email marketing. In other words, only send email to people who have requested your email messages and make it easy to opt-out of future emails. There is a slimy side to email marketing thanks to spammers.

Obviously, you want to be associated with the reputable side of email marketing. If a customer, a prospect, or a site visitor willingly provides their email address, you’re not spamming. If you get it any other way, you’re spamming.

A commonly used technique for dealing with subscription requests from your website is called a “double-opt-in”. A double-opt-in requires the individual to first request your email marketing, then a confirmation request is sent to their email address.

They must click a link in the confirmation email or otherwise confirm their desire to receive your email before they’re added to your list. The rule is simple: If in doubt, don’t send it out.

Secret number two: Make your email marketing messages compelling for the reader. Keep them short and to-the-point and ensure that the recipient will see the value in whatever you’re saying. Increasingly, people are becoming distrustful of “hypie” messages that sound like they were written by an advertising copy writer.

Make your message real, make it personal, and make it deliver a benefit from the readers’ perspective. If there’s nothing in it for them, they’ll just delete your message or possibly even report it as spam.

Secret number three: Be consistent. Whether you choose to send an email campaign every week, every month, or every quarter, be consistent. One very successful email marketer even includes these words at the top of every email he sends: “Sent the third Tuesday of every month…” Your consistency in your marketing efforts reflects your dependability as a company.

What about the mechanics of email marketing? Many very small businesses just use their regular email accounts. Such a solution can work, but it doesn’t scale well as your email list and business grow. It also requires you to manage your new subscribers and unsubscribe requests.

A better solution is to use a commercial email marketing service. Such companies provide templates to make your messages look professional. They also provide tracking information on how many messages were actually opened and read, automatic opt-out links on your marketing messages, tutorials, assistance in complying with the CAN-SPAM act, and more.

Costs start at about $10 per month and go up from there based on various criteria such as the size of your list and the frequency with which you send messages. Most such companies provide a free trial period so you can get familiar with their service.

Make sure you’re compliant with the CAN-SPAM act. Of course, this is not legal advice (I’m no lawyer!), but compliance means being honest in your subject lines about the content of the message, including an easy opt-out method in every message, and including your complete contact information in every message.

Regardless of how you decide to do your email marketing, now is the time to start gathering email addresses. Email marketing, done properly, is flexible, affordable, efficient, and potentially very profitable for your business.

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Email Marketing Software Gives You Vital Statistics To Boost Your Business

September 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Robert Burko asked:

With the right email marketing software, the days of blindly undertaking marketing initiatives without being able to track or monitor your success and easily learn from your experiences are a thing of the past.

Now, email marketing software makes it easy to quantify the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns down to the smallest details. With all this information at the marketer’s fingertips, the big question becomes, “how can it all be used?” This article will address several key ways that the reports from your email marketing software can be used to boost your email marketing results.

1. Your Open Rate Can Identify Problems with Your Email Subject

One of the most important reports that your email marketing software will generate is that of overall email ‘opens’. Your email marketing software may further divide this into unique opens vs. total opens (as some people will open your email multiple times).

This is a vital number because if people are not opening your email marketing campaign, then they obviously can’t see all the great promotions or information that you’ve put inside the message. That is why this is generally the first report you should look at in your email marketing software, since it can often act as an early indicator of a problem with your email name or email subject.

In many email programs that your subscribers may be using (either web-based or on their local computer), all they can see is the ‘from’ name and subject. Then, they have to make a decision about whether or not to open the email. If you have a low open rate, then the first thing you should do is ask yourself whether or not people recognize and are familiar with the ‘from’ name you are using.

Most email marketing software solutions will let you enter any from name you desire. But, if your customers know you as “Toy Central”, but you send out the email from “John Smith”, then that could be part of the reason you have a less than stelar open rate.

The other important piece of the puzzle is your email subject. While creating your email from within your email marketing software, you should be able to specify the subject.

The goal of the subject line is to accurately describe the contents of the email, while at the same time arousing people’s interests so they want to open your message. If you have a boring subject, then that could easily be an explanation for sub-par open rates.

2. Link Click-Through Measurements Can Tell You Where Your Readers Are Looking

Knowing exactly which links are being clicked can be very helpful when planning future email marketing campaigns. Most email marketing software solutions will generate a report that shows you all the hyperlinks in your email message and compare the number of clicks each one receives.

This insight can be useful because it tells you where your contacts are looking and what attracts their attention the most. From this information, you can figure out if your audience is looking at the first featured article in the main section, an article off in a side column, or maybe a quick links section.

Everyone’s target audience is different, but with your email marketing spelling out the answer about which sections generate the most action, you can more effectively plan your future email campaigns.

For example, if you can see that your “Featured Promotion” section containing links to one main product is consistently a leading click generator, then you can put important promotions or messages in that spot.

This is a great way to boost click-throughs using readily available information from your email marketing software. And, since clicks, in many cases, are what you need to generate sales, this is a measurement that should not be overlooked.

3. Past Readership Habits Can Help You Further Segment Your List

Since your email marketing software will generate reports that clearly pinpoint who is interacting with your email marketing campaign (whether it is clicks, opens, forwards, etc), this opens up a world of opportunities for targeted email follow-ups.

The purpose of this section is to figure out who your active contacts are, then spend extra time marketing to them. This generally produces a greater return on investment.

With most email marketing software solutions, you can take a group of people that performed a certain action (such as opening or clicking on your email) and save them as a new targeted segment. This lets you send a specific email marketing campaign to just those individuals who previously took your desired action.

Since you know these people are more highly qualified leads (after all, they already took the first steps owards interacting with you), it can often be more beneficial to spend increased time, attention and marketing budget reaching out to these selected individuals.

This is not to say that you should neglect your overall list altogether, as you definitely want to keep your brand in front of as many eyes as possible. But, if you have a limited budget, using the reports from your email marketing software to further target your mailing list can let you easily hone in on the people who, based on past behaviors, are going to be more receptive to what you are communicating.

With a little bit of effort and attention to detailed reports from your email marketing software, any business owner, manager or marketer can gain great insights and vastly improve future marketing efforts.

Simply being able to identify when something is going wrong, when something is going right, or when something can be improved, can ultimately help you increase your results and lead you towards achieving your goals.

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