The Value of Email Marketing
Email marketing is a powerful tool that allows you to easily employ classic marketing principles effectively. It enables you to send your message to a wider audience at a low cost while segmenting your audience and ensuring that your message is relevant for each target group. No matter the size of your business, email marketing can help you achieve success quickly and inexpensively.The goals of email marketing are to:
- Improve customer interactions
- Engage prospective customers
- Maintain consistent contact with current clients
- Encourage them to take action
Email messages allow you to track the effectiveness of your contact and test your marketing to ensure that your efforts are on target and valuable to your business. These best practices are intended to help you improve (or implement) your own email marketing campaigns so your business may enjoy the benefits as well.
Building and Managing your Contact List
Having an accurate, well-conditioned mailing list is the foundation for successful email marketing campaigns. You can compose the most compelling email message but if you don’t have a current and accurate mailing list of people who might read the message, the effort is worthless. You’ll also need to grow your list if you want to grow your business. Follow these 6 tips to build and maintain a valuable mailing list of prospects and customers that will be more receptive to your marketing efforts.
- Always be looking to grow your list of contacts, you never know who might turn out to be a great customer. You can begin by asking for an email address at the end of a phone call and asking permission to send them some information. You should also get out and mingle, be part of local events, join clubs and organizations and become an active member.
- Utilize your social networks to encourage friends and followers to sign up. If they are already aware of your social network presence, ask them to sign up for an email alert. Another great thing about email marketing is that your message is easily forwarded. You should always be looking to extend your reach to friends of friends. Read this article on Social Media Best Practices.
- Use a double opt-in sign-up process. Having new subscribers confirm that they want to receive your messages will help ensure their level of interest. Continually providing opportunities to change their subscriber preferences is also a great way to make sure they are only receiving content that will be of interest. During the sign-up process clearly define their expectations, tell them up front what they will be receiving and how often they can expect it. Deliver on what you promise, by meeting their expectations you are building trust and showing that you can deliver in the future.
- Provide an incentive to subscribe to your email messages. Advertise a special offer or a bit of information (like local home value trends or an informative article) in return for their subscription. People love incentives and if you can deliver something of value to them right away, it makes for a great first impression.
- Include an unsubscribe option in all of your messages. It’s required by law and it will help keep your list current and accurate. You should also consistently monitor your list. Make sure to remove old addresses, addresses that have not read your message in awhile, and hard bounce backs to avoid being considered SPAM.
- Know your target and segment your lists as much as possible. Initially you won’t want to ask too many questions of your subscribers, the fewer barriers to registration the better. But as you cultivate the relationship and send them more messages, don’t be afraid to ask them questions. The more you know about them, the better you’ll be able to send them content they might find interesting and might spur them to take action. Make sure that you use what you know about them to send only relevant content.
Improve your Delivery Rate
Improving your delivery rate is not a guarantee that the recipients of your message will open the email, read it, and be compelled to buy something from you. It does, however, improve your chances of having that scenario play out. When an ISP (internet service provider) is deciding whether or not to allow your message to be delivered to its intended inbox, you’ll need to have a good online reputation. In the post CAN-SPAM world, it is important that you actively monitor your online reputation. Everything you do online can be tracked and will impact your reputation and ability to have your email messages delivered. Follow these 4 tips to ensure that you maintain a decent reputation and improve your chances of having your messages end up in the intended inbox.
- Proactively manage your online reputation. Reputation is your identity as defined by others. You have worked for a long time to build your reputation. And in today’s online world, customers contribute to how you are perceived as well. Their reviews and posts are trusted by others in the online community as much as your actions. Social media interactions, your company blog, email campaigns and search engine advertising all have a huge direct impact on your online reputation. Work to create trust between the entire online community and you. Establish a good email marketing reputation by making sure you have a solid sign-up process; setting and meeting your client expectations; complying with all unsubscribe requests; and gradually building your email volume.
- Authenticate your email messages, or, in other words, verify that you, the sender, are who you say you are. There are a few email service providers that include some authentication tools as part of their solution. For a more technical understanding of authentication check out the SPF, DK/DKIM and Sender ID methods of authentication. Take advantage and sign up for all available ISP feedback loops. Many ISPs are providing these free tools that will notify a sender when one of their messages is marked as SPAM by an ISP user. You can then monitor your SPAM complaints and make sure to address these emails.
- Know what qualifies as SPAM, familiarize yourself with the laws concerning SPAM and follow them. The basics are to make sure you include an unsubscribe option in all of your emails. Honor any opt-out requests within 10 days and do not market to those addresses in the future. Include accurate From: lines and Subject: lines. Any attempt to be deceptive will increase your chances of being considered SPAM. Senders must also display a physical address in the email, although you may now use a P.O. Box.
- Always use an easily recognizable from email address. If you have obtained the address from an opt-in subscription, properly set their expectations and are using an easily recognizable from email address you’ll increase you chances of making it into their contact list. People are obviously more likely to open a message and click on provided links when they receive that message from a trusted source.
Measuring your Campaign's Effectiveness
Integrating email into your marketing campaigns allows you to easily track the effectiveness of your outreach. The ability to track the percentage of recipients who read your messages and the percentage of recipients compelled to take action, allows you to test everything you send. The ability to monitor these statistics and easily associate them with particular segments and to specific messages is invaluable to constructing all of your future campaigns. No email marketing campaign is complete without a comprehensive set of testing and tracking procedures. Follow these 3 tips to make sure that you are tracking your email marketing campaigns and that your messages remain on target and worth your time.
- Take advantage of the easily measured nature of email marketing efforts. The statistics focus around opens (the number of people who saw and opened your message), clickthrough (the number of people who clicked on a link included in your message), and forwards (the number of messages that were forwarded on to another email address). There are a number of different email services that track these statistics for you so you can focus on composing a great message. Click here to view a list of just a few.
- Mix up the type of messages you send and always test their performance. Set up a control group and a test group to compare the results of the new message/offer and see how effective it was. Play around with subject line testing, see which subject lines get the most opens. And don’t forget to test your message across numerous email clients for rendering, formatting, or broken link issues.
- Always have a goal in mind. Figure out what information will help you reach those goals and the data you’ll need to measure your progress. Review your data, draw conclusions and put those conclusions to action. When developing testing and tracking procedures make sure you keep your actions specific and measurable.
If you are looking to increase activity, grow your business or simply market your services online, email marketing is an easy and cost effective tool to use. An email marketing campaign will help you stay in touch with clients you already have, reach out to new ones and target your offer to interested audiences. Your campaign will be completely measurable so that you can track the effectiveness of your efforts. Marketing your offline business online doesn’t need to be a complex task; follow these tips to build a good reputation, establish trust between you and your contacts, and enjoy the benefits of marketing your business via email.
Resources for vFlyer’s Email Capabilities
- Emailing a Flyer: http://vflyer.zendesk.com/entries/407964-email-your-flyer
- Email Multiple Listings: http://vflyer.zendesk.com/entries/407969-emailing-multiple-flyers
- Email FAQ: http://vflyer.zendesk.com/forums/322946-emailing-a-flyer
Resources for Email Authentication
- Sender Policy Framework: http://www.openspf.org/
- Domain Keys Identified Mail: http://www.dkim.org/
- Sender ID: http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/safety/technologies/senderid/default.mspx
Resources for SPAM
- CAN-SPAM Act: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/business/ecommerce/bus61.shtm
- Spamhaus: http://www.spamhaus.org/definition.html
- Feedback Loops: http://www.spamhaus.org/faq/answers.lasso?section=isp%20spam%20issues#119
Resources for Measuring Email Performance
- Email Marketing Statistics: http://www.email-marketing-reports.com/metrics/benchmark-statistics.htm#na
- Subject Line Testing: http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/1693583/subject-line-testing-scenarios
- Google Analytics: http://www.google.com/analytics/
Resources for Email Marketing Service Providers
- Constant Contact: http://www.constantcontact.com/learning-center/index.jsp
- Mail Chimp: http://www.mailchimp.com/resources
- Bronto: http://www.bronto.com/knowledge/blog
- Lyris: http://www.lyris.com/resources/