Answer: email marketing is often either overlooked or overdone by small business marketers. Generating online leads or feet through the front door of your business starts with a good list of opt-in prospects. The keys are having compelling content, delivering your message that will result in an action and the ability to track your performance so you can do it better the next time. In the age of social media and connectedness, email is still king
Why? According to Rich Brooks http://twitter.com/therichbrooks you own the platform. You don’t share it with anyone. You are in control.
When you get a prospect or customer to opt-in, they have given you access to their front door their inbox. An email that ends up in a potential buyer’s inbox requires a “click” to move forward or trash the message. This means the recipient at least saw your brand. Even if they aren’t ready to buy, they are reminded of your solution when they have the need.
The first step is to choose a provider – an ESP (email service provider). You can choose Outlook, Gmail or even AOL. But, even better investigate an ESP like Constant Contact who have tools and metrics for email marketing. Make sure that your provider will allow bulk email otherwise they will shut you down for unauthorized use. You will have responsive templates, scheduling tools, metrics, the ability to segment your contact lists, and being able to manage your sign-ups, opt-ins, and bounces.
Customize your experience. The more you can personalize your experience the greater the response. Use the “sign-up box” feature on your website. Your call to action “Join Our Mailing List” must include a benefits statement about why they should sign up, so it doesn’t appear like spam. Let them know what to expect like frequency of delivery, what great content they will receive. Create a landing page on your website for sign-ups that will give more information about the benefits being offered.
Make your website more than your front door, but the hub of your marketing efforts. Most of your email sign-ups will take place here. Put your sign-up messages on your home page. Most visitors come to your website once, but with an opt-in, they will continue to visit your business’ digital front door.
Use blogs for more email sign-ups. If you are blogging, then you are already creating the content that can be used in your email marketing. The blog is fresh content; your email marketing is the delivery system. You can have a call to action or sign-up box on each blog, as well.
Create lead magnets – buyers in-boxes are filled with offers, some legitimate others spam. So getting sign-ups are getting increasingly difficult. You need to trade something of value. Sign-up for our email newsletter and we will send you a “white paper” or “how to.” Or even a discount in your store or for their next service. How to winterize your home to save money. This is a lead magnet. When using your landing page ensure you have an accurate email address that is being automatically entered into your ESP database.
Getting your email delivered. Your email might be blocked by their Internet Service Provider (ISP) or firewall or overactive junk filter. Alert new subscribers to look out for your emails. Ask them to “whitelist” you. Also, watch your subject line. “Free” or “today only” are solid clues for spam filters
Getting your emails opened and read – just because the email is in the inbox doesn’t mean it will get opened. Two key ingredients: (1) a recognizable email address and (2) a compelling subject line. “Monthly Newsletter” never got interested enough to open an email, but “10 Keys to Selling Your Product” just may get your email opened. Sometimes it’s intrigue or maybe it’s something personal that attracts attention enough to get your emails opened. Engaging your audience to read your email also entails planning: Have a responsive email template. Use the image to engage the reader. Keep it short. (Title it, Take Two – 2 minutes to read). Include a clear call to action they see first. “Download our white paper here.”
To learn more about email marketing, read: Back to Basics: Email Marketing for Small Business: http://www.takeflyte.com/home.