"I could use email marketing more effectively to market our products, but I'm afraid that this might be considered 'spamming.' What's the proper way of doing an email marketing campaign? What does an effective email marketing strategy entail? What are the best tools and how much will it cost?"
Ivan: Cyri and I call this symptom "email paralysis." Email marketing can be not only very cost efficient but also extremely targeted, customizable and measurable. Yet, many organizations don't use the potential of email marketing at all. For some reason most people today tend to give too much time and attention to social media while neglecting the power of email.
Cyri: While social media is a great branding tool to help us create desired image and interest ("pull" factor), an email is still the ultimate sales tool to help you sell ("push") your products. You want to leverage social media to draw people to your website, from there you want your website visitors to sign up for your email newsletter to further engage and ultimately lead to a sale. Social media, especially social media ads, if not part of a bigger marketing strategy can have very low return on investment. General Motors' cancellation earlier this year of its $10 million Facebook ad budget could be a sign of things to come.
Ivan: Think of a social media as your online PR, while email marketing is your online sales force and customer relationship management power horse.
Cyri: Email marketing can do lots of marketing tasks that normally walk the customer through the so-called AIDA communication process (Attention to Interest, Desire and, finally, Action). Use email to inform, educate, persuade, remind or to ask for an order.
Ivan: Here are the 10 secrets to successful email marketing:
1) Consider email marketing as an essential part of your overall marketing strategy. Develop an email marketing blueprint or strategy. Answer questions such as what your email marketing objectives are, how you will collect email addresses, who you will email to and how often, what type of content/message you're going to send, what technology platform you will use and who in your organization will be responsible for managing your email marketing campaigns.
2) Set goals for your email marketing strategy so that at the end of the month or year you can track your progress.
3) Start growing your database of existing and potential customers. Use every opportunity (including a sign-up on your own website) to collect emails and get permission to send email messages.
4) Make sure that you comply with anti-spam regulations of the countries where you're doing your e-marketing business. Check Canadian regulation at www.fightspam.ca. Make sure to consult a legal expert or web professional before starting your campaign. Note that many countries now have a consumer opt-in approach, which stipulates that businesses must get consent prior to sending commercial email or have a pre-existing business relationship with a consumer. Do not forget to provide (and act on) an unsubscribe option. Remember to provide your physical business address at the end of your email.
5) Create your own standard e-newsletter. Make it visually appealing. Give it an attractive name. Add value by providing various tips, insights, facts or news about your products or industry. Educate your customers, build relationships and trust, and, yes, always remind them to try your products. Send your e-newsletter regularly.
6) Don't forget to make your subject line as informative and appealing as possible. The subject line is probably the most important part of an email. Subject lines help the reader to identify the email and entice him or her to open it. Be consistent to build familiarity and trust.
7) While using your own email program can serve the needs of small to medium-size businesses at the beginning, we would strongly recommend using web email marketing services such as www.ConstantContact.com, www.iContact.com, www.aWeber.com or www.MailChimp.com. They can help you create an e-newsletter template, expand your contact lists, send hundreds of emails and track your email campaigns. Using a reputable email service can also significantly increase the percentage of emails that make it through anti-spam filters. It's important to pick an email service provider carefully and then stick with it. Every time you switch providers you need to re-ask your subscribers to opt-in, which usually leads to huge attrition rates.
8) Personalize your email campaigns. Make sure to offer personal greetings and to customize your emails to various customer groups.
9) Provide a call to action in each email campaign, be it to sign up for more services, get something for free or to buy your products.
10) Celebrate when you have achieved your goals. This announces to the world that your business is succeeding, helps encourage new subscribers to come on board and will make you feel good when you see yourself meeting your goals.
Future management of condition
Cyri: To improve in the future, make sure to test almost all elements of your email marketing campaigns such as the subject line, visual template of your email, the message itself or incentives. Continually optimize your email campaigns by tracking open rates, click-throughs, bounces and transaction conversions.
Generic name and alternative medicine
Cyri: Just email marketing! Note that email marketing is part of CRM (customer relationship management) and one type of database or direct marketing. Web email services have given the email-marketing sector a facelift and made it easier than ever to benefit from the fundamental concepts of customer relationships.
Ivan: With AWeber, you can send unlimited emails to up to 500 subscribers for $19 (first month is only $1). When you get to the 10,000 to 25,000 subscriber threshold, the cost is $130 per month.
MailChimp is $10 per month for up to 500 subscribers and $150 per month for the 10,000 to 25,000 threshold.
It also has a "pay as you go" approach for $0.01 to $0.03 per email depending on volume. iContact has a free 30-day trial and then it's $14 per month for 500 subscribers. They also offer a free plan for less than 100 subscribers, a great way to get started or might even be sufficient for a small business.
Ivan: Avoid inundating your customers' Inbox with your email messages. Otherwise, they will either unsubscribe or stop paying attention to your messages.
Sending your e-newsletter once a week or a few times a month only is probably the best approach. Make sure that every message that you send is worth your customers' time.