Email marketing is a crtical element of your overall web marketing strategy. Once upon a time, simply sending email to your prospects and customers was effective. But today your target customer is savvier than ever. And to make matters worse, the email inbox is now considered "sacred territory" to be protected from marketers. So to help you navigate this part of your web marketing strategy, I've put together a list of my personal "top 10 email marketing tips for small business" right here in this blog post.
1. Create A Good Reason To Opt-In
The success of your email marketing strategy begins with the opt-in experience you give your prospects. The opt-in "experience" on your website needs to be compelling, creative, and even exciting! Get this part right and you'll have more opt-ins and happier subscribers. Get it wrong, and you risk setting the stage for unsubscribes and lost opportunities.
2. Make Expectations Clear
You'll also want to be clear and upfront about how often you'll be emailing and exactly what you'll be emailing. If you're only sending a "Weekly Monday Email" then say so. But don't then try to surprise your subscribers with unexpected emails on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday too!
3. Segment Your List & Modify Your Messages
The initial opt-in is the best time to sort and filter your prospects into various buckets. If you're like most small businesses, you'll have 5, 7, even 10 or more segments in your prospect list. Don't make the all-too-common mistake of assuming all your customers are created equally. The subtle differences between your "list segments" can mean the difference between making a sale and not.
For a quick guide on "how to segment your list" -- check out this blog post.
4. Write Personal Style Emails
Personally (pun-intended) I prefer emails that read like they were intended solely for ME. That's exactly how your prospects feel too. There's nothing wrong with the occassional "branded" email, but the fact is direct personal letter-style emails still outperform any alternatives. And that's not just in my experience. There's loads of data and intensive market-research to support the claim.
5. Provide Lots Of Value
Really, I should have listed this point first. Providing value should be at the very core of your email marketing strategy and your entire marketing strategy to boot! Unfortunately, this is also the most difficult tip to explain. Essentially, you want to ensure you're providing about a 3-to-1 ration of value and info-packed emails to sales and pitch-heavy emails.
6. Don't Forget To Pitch
That being said, it's still important to get your sales punches in too. Providing value in your email marketing does not mean hiding your goods. Your prospects and customers need to understand and even respect your right (and need!) to sell whatever it is you sell. At the end of the day, without sales you can't provide any value at all.
7. Make It Easy To Opt-Out
Yes, I know it's never fun to lose subscribers but it's all part of the game. You need to make it easy for your subscribers to opt-out if they decide to do so. And, perhaps more importantly, you need to learn to embrace the inevitabliity of losing subscribers. Stop trying to please everyone, and start getting better at speaking DIRECTLy to your most cherished list segments.
8. Get CAN-SPAM Compliant
As more and more small businesses get online every day, regulation and legal issues are increasingly important. It often surprises me how many small businesses are breaking some of the most critical CAN-SPAM laws relating to email marketing and SPAM regulation. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with some of the basics today.
9. Use Infusionsoft
I won't hide it -- I'm a huge fan of Infusionsoft for small business email marketing (and CRM, e-commerce, affiliate marketing, etc). If your business is already doing at least $500k in revenue per year then you're ready to step up your game to the Infusionsoft level. Otherwise, Aweber is my favorite pick for bootstrappers and folks just getting in motion.
10. Be Single-Minded
Finally, I want to encourage you to approach every evmail with a singular purpose. Always ask yourself, "What's my goal with this email?" In other words, what's the very next step you want your reader to take AFTER opening your email? Visit your website? Download an e-book? Log into their membership account? Try to build a series of clear singular steps into your email marketing sequences for much greater impact.
There you have it: 10 tips to keep you on track with your email marketing for best results. Have any other tips or suggestions to share? Please leave your comment below.