Since it came into use in the early 1990s, the email has become the single greatest business tool of the modern age. Even the development of popular social media sites have not been able to trump the email as the fastest, cheapest, and most effective way of getting the message across. In this article, we examine why an email marketing campaign can benefit your business, and help you avoid some obvious pitfalls along the way.
The most important thing is to get up to date with the latest data protection laws. The cardinal rule for obtaining an email address in that individuals must “opt in” before you can contact them. You can do this by either including a line in your information gathering forms, or by encouraging clients to sign up to a regular newsletter. However, as always there are a few exceptions to the rule. For example, if their email address was obtained during a sale or negotiation, if the subject of the email is similar to something already discussed, if they’ve said you can use their address for marketing purposes, and if you provide them with the option to unsubscribe at any time.
The next step is to decide how many people you’re going to include in the campaign. For a smaller number (maximum 30 people), a monthly personalized email maybe sufficient. Alternatively, if you’re emailing a larger group of people, you might consider a weekly email using an email merge, or even outsourcing the job to a provider (ESP).
The A-Team were spot on when they said, “I love it when a plan comes together”, and a structured plan is essential for a successful email campaign. Firstly, you need to assess if you have the resources to do the job properly. Do you have the time, the technology, and the staff, to send an email regularly? Do you even have enough to say, making the time and effort worthwhile? The worst email campaigns are the ones where the content is scarce, or clumped together at the eleventh hour.
If, on reflection, you don’t have the time or internal resources, but do have the cash, you can always to pay someone else to do the job for you. ESPs will ensure that your emails comply with the latest laws, and are sent at the optimum time of the day, making sure that you reach as many people as possible. They will also keep track of an email, informing you who received it, if it went straight to the spam folder, and which clients clicked through the various links.
So what are you actually going to put in this email? Whatever it is, make it interesting, informative and to the point. Try and avoid the impersonal “click here” links, as well as popular spam phrases such as “win”, “prize” and “free”. Ensure that your email is visually impressive and that the layout is easy to navigate, and crucially, compatible with all types of technological devices. Similarly, an unsubscribe option is a must have, as well as various share icons such as Twitter or Linkedin.
Although a time consuming process, email campaigns are certainly worth a look, and could prove to be a vital in keeping in touch with your customers.