The first and most important step to email marketing is developing a sound strategy. It’s critical to success and it’s not something that you should rush through. I’ve helped a number of folks through this process so I thought I’d share the steps involved here.
Most of my clients are retail businesses so this may have a slight retail slant. Even so, this method is applicable across all types of business and industry. Answer all of the questions below thoroughly and you’ll be well on your way a successful email marketing program.
Step 1: Who will receive and read your emails?
Who do you want to read and act upon your email marketing? Current and potential customers? Vendors and complimentary business owners? Industry leaders and peers? Family and friends? Your business may want to reach all of these people or a totally different group.
Deciding who will read and act upon your email marketing content and information is sometimes driven by what type of product or service you offer. As an example, let’s say you own and operate a local auto repair shop. It’s a no brainer that you’d want to send emails to customers who you’ve done work for, right? Positively right. But let’s think outside of the box for a moment. What about the owners at the auto parts stores close by? There’s a good chance that if they are getting your emails, they will send you some business. The same is possible with other local business owners. If they know about and receive your emails, they can share this with their customers and friends as well.
Make sure that everyone who wants to read your emails opts-in appropriately. NEVER add them to your list without their permission. Doing so is illegal. I’ll be talking more about the opt-in process in another post scheduled to be published soon.
Step 2: What is the purpose of your emails?
This is actually a fairly simple step. Here, let me help you out. The purpose of (Your Company Name Here)’s Email Marketing is primarily to (type your purpose here). Defining the reason you’re sending email communications will guide you in outlining the content for your emails. So, to follow the example of a local auto repair shop, the email marketing purpose statement might read like this:
The purpose of ABC Auto Repair’s Email Marketing is primarily to build trust by sharing tips and information that teach our customers important automobile repair and maintenance warning signs. Our secondary purpose is to give current and potential customers a reason to get their automobile repaired or maintained by our shop through the use of special offers and sales..
Note that the primary purpose here is disseminating valuable information to build customer trust. Email Marketing can drive lots of sales revenue but it’s always best to balance special offers and sales with valuable and trustworthy information.
Step 3: What are your goals?
This step is worth some extra time, effort and deliberation. Think about and brainstorm what results you’d like to achieve through your email marketing efforts over the next 6 to 12 months. Keep in mind that if you are building your email list from the ground up, it will take time to achieve these results. So, to follow the example of the local auto repair shop, the email marketing goals might be something like this:
- 1. Increase preventive maintenance sales by 25% over the next 12 months.
- 2. Achieve this goal by offering email subscribers an opportunity to understand warning signs that might indicate the need for repairs or maintenances along with incentives for purchasing preventive maintenance services such as exclusive special discount offers.
- 3. Measure the conversions by scanning QR Codes and monthly POS reports.
Step 4: How often will you market using email?
When you are considering how frequently you are going to market your business by email, think about how frequently your average customer shops at or patronizes your business. If that is once per week, then it makes sense to market to them via email on a weekly basis or maybe even twice per week. In the case of our local auto repair shop, a good frequency would be every three to four weeks. But wait, nobody patronizes their local auto repair shop that often unless their car is really old or a lemon right? True, but remember the goal mentioned above. The shop wants to increase preventive maintenance sales by 25%. As such, it will likely take a higher frequency for special offers on maintenance services to reach this goal.
Every business is different in this regard. Trial and error is key here so don’t be afraid to poke the box. Also, there’s no harm in soliciting feedback from customers on how often they’d like to receive your emails. Ultimately, your email metrics will help you determine what’s best for your business.
Step 5: What will your editorial process be?
Your editorial process and steps will vary, depending on your industry, type of content and email recipients. For our local auto repair shop the editorial process might look something like this:
- 1. Brainstorm. List out topics that you want to include in your email marketing campaigns along with some ideas for graphics and/or pictures to use along with those ideas.
- 2. Document. Jot out what you want to say about each topic. (This doesn’t have to be grammatically perfect at this point, the idea here is to simply get your thoughts out of your head and into a document).
- 3. Communicate. Send this information to the person responsible for putting together your email campaigns. This could be your web marketing director or someone like myself who works with you on a contract basis to provide web marketing services. Using your ideas, have them write your email copy and put together the email design including your graphics and/or pictures.
- 4. Collaborate. Review a proof of the email campaign. Suggest any changes you’d like to see made to your web marketing director or service provider. Be sure to let them know whether you want to see another proof after the changes are made or whether the campaign can’t be sent without submitting another proof. Remain open to the suggestions of your web marketing service provider or director. Their counsel is very valuable.
- 5. Send it! Schedule your campaign to be sent out to your readers. Your email campaign doesn’t have to be sent immediately, you can schedule it for sometime later if you wish. Be sure to experiment with send times and days to determine what is best for your business.
- 6. Track it. Measure your results. Don’t forget to review your email metrics to determine how effective your campaign content was. Understanding what works and what doesn’t will help you reach your goals.
So, what are your waiting for?
Now that you know the steps involved in creating an Email Marketing strategy, what will you do with this information?
Whether you are currently doing email marketing for your business or not, I’d be happy to talk with you about how I can help you work through this process and ultimately gain long-term repeat customers as a result. Contact me here and let’s talk.