Email Marketing 101
There was a time that if your business wasn’t an internet business, then you didn’t need to worry about using e-mail for marketing. My friends, those days are gone. Nearly any business can benefit from using e-mail to engage their target market. If you’re not using e-mail to actively market your business, you’re missing out on one of the most cost effective means to not only gain new customers but to retain current ones. Additionally with e-mail marketing, you can enjoy greater flexibility by tailoring your message to a particular group of your customers and greater tracking ability to determine the effectiveness of your marketing campaign.
Where do I start?
You need to begin collecting e-mail addresses from your customers at every opportunity and there are a number of ways to do this. You could have a sign up form at the register or put a sign up form on your website. You could also hold a drawing for a prize and ask for their e-mail as a part of the entry form or just ask for their e-mail address as a part of any other paperwork they need to fill out for you. You can segment then your customers into different groups, if applicable to deliver a different message each category.
What do I say?
Email newsletters need to be relevant and compelling. They should pass along unique information of interest to your readers. It may be special promotions or prices, product recommendations, and reasons to come to your business. Like any good sales presentation, there should be a call to action for the reader.
Email newsletters should be sent on a regular basis so that readers will come to expect them. One of the biggest mistakes in email marketing is sending information that isn’t of value to the reader. Put yourself in their shoes. “If I were receiving 100 e-mails per day, would I be glad to receive this message or annoyed?” Make it worth their while!
An example of very successful email marketing is done by a local day spa. They send out an email to subscribers called “Rejuvenation On A Budget” that advertises discounted services for a day where their schedule isn’t full. These promotions sell out quickly because they have a loyal readership that is always glad to get pampered and get a good deal at the same time. The spa gains a full schedule of paying customers for a day when they would have had to pay their employees anyway.
What about the law?
The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 provides for penalties for abuses of email marketing, but a legitimate business can easily comply. It requires that you give recipients an opt-out method, that you identify yourself as a business, that the subject line not be misleading, and that you provide the postal address of your business.
I’m not very technology savvy – should I bother?
Yes! There are a number of services that offer CAN-SPAM compliant e-mail solutions at very low or no cost. A quick internet search for “email marketing” will give you a start. Many of these companies also provide easy to use on-line tools for developing eye-catching e-mails with the use of templates, photos, etc. and they don’t require any programming knowledge. Additionally, most also provide sophisticated tracking data which tell you how many e-mails were opened and by whom, which links were clicked on the most, whether anyone forwarded the message, and whether anyone opted out. This data can help you to evaluate the effectiveness of your campaign as well as fine-tune it for the next time.