Managing Member, Commerce Overflow
Published: Aug. 29, 2020 Read time: 6 min 57 sec
Why is Email Marketing Important?
Communicating with your customers is a great way to let them know your business is active and thinking about them.
People want to know your company is ready and willing to attend to them when the need arises.
Whether you sell products or provide services, customers want to know you're there.
Regular communication keeps your business top of mind.
Email marketing is the perfect medium for regular communications.
Customers love email because they can read it at their leisure and at the time that makes sense for them.
How to Get Started with Email Marketing for Business
The first step to starting a successful email marketing program for your business is determining who your customers are.
Depending on your business type, you may or may not be collecting an email address from your every customer.
So, let's start there.
How to Create Your Email Marketing Database
If you've already been collecting email addresses from your customers, you're doing great!
But if you haven't been collecting email addresses or if you want to improve your program, read on.
The first step to creating your email marketing database is to make sure you're capturing every customer's email address.
Many companies offer something in exchange for a customer providing their email address. In marketing, we call this a value exchange.
An email address is a piece of personal information, and it has value.
If you want a customer to give you there email address, you should provide something in exchange.
Every business is different, so you will need to figure out what makes sense for your customers and your business.
Some businesses offer a small discount or coupon towards a future transaction, and others provide a downloadable PDF.
Once you've determined your value exchange, you can start collecting email addresses in person, at the point of sale, or on your website.
What is an Email Service Provider or ESP?
Email Service Providers or ESPs are platforms specifically designed for creating and send emails.
There are many ESPs in the world, and each has its pros and cons.
Most ESPs include creating and managing email templates, uploading and managing email lists, sending email blasts, and reporting tools to monitor email performance.
Avoid Purchasing Email Lists
Some people ask me, "Can't I just purchase a list of email addresses?"
You can, but that would be a waste of money. Here are the reasons why:
- Most ESPs prohibit sending to third party email lists.
- ESPs have lists of flagged email addresses, and when you send your email, your ESP will see this list was purchased and halt your email blast and even suspend your account.
- Most purchased email lists do not contain quality, recently verified email addresses.
- Internet service providers have lists of known abandoned email boxes that reside on their servers. Sending to these abandoned email boxes will flag your email as spam and stop further delivery of emails.
Your email marketing database should contain email addresses you've collected from your customers.
Once you have your list, it's time to move to the next step, determine if you need an email service provider.
Do You Need an Email Service Provider?
The size of your email marketing database is a significant factor in determining if you need an ESP.
If you have less than 20 customers to email, you should send them a personal email from your business email account.
In the meantime, keep growing your email marketing database, and once you've exceeded 20 unique customers, you should consider moving your database to an email service provider.
How to Choose an Email Service Provider?
There are many email service providers from which to choose.
The two critical attributes you should consider when selecting an email service provider are data security and deliverability.
Spam is big business.
Spammers want to hijack your ESP account and use it to blast spam.
Any email service provider you're considering should have data security baked into their platform.
Ensure they provide two-factor authentication to protect your account from being hacked.
Your customer data residing in their platform should be stored encrypted.
With data at rest stored encrypted, data thieves will not learn your customer's email addresses and other personal information you may have stored there if the ESP's database gets hacked.
Your ESP's ability to deliver your email is critical to the success of your email marketing program.
If your ESP can't provide 95% delivery rates or higher, you should remove them from your consideration set.
Benefits of Using an Email Service Provider
Email Volumes and Send Speeds
ESPs have designed their platforms to handle large volumes of emails.
Huge email volumes may not be an issue for your small to medium-sized business, but this has another benefit, speed.
If you schedule your email blast at 10:00 AM, you'd like it delivered at 10 AM and not at noon.
Because ESPs can handle large volumes of email, this also means they can deliver your emails quickly.
List management refers to the importing of email lists and other data you've captured about your customers.
Most ESPs provide the capability to store more than just an email address.
Below are a few examples of additional data you may want to include in your email marketing database:
- Customer's first name
- Customer's birthday
- Previously purchased products or services
Personalization refers to providing personal and relevant information in an email message.
With list management and additional customer data available, your ESP should allow you to use personalized content in your email subject line and message body.
Once you've sent your email blast, having an ESP enables you to see who's received, opened, and clicked your message.
Some ESPs provide the ability for more granular analytics, and you'll know what links in the email got clicked.
Engagement data is an essential part of campaign automation, which will discuss in a moment.
As your email program grows, there may come a time when you have different types or categories of emails you're sending, for example, a newsletter that you send monthly and promotions you're sending each week.
Suppose your customer decides they want or receive the weekly promotion but don't want to receive the monthly newsletter.
In that case, subscription management allows your customers to opt-out of only the emails they no longer wish to receive.
Subscription management helps prevent your customer from opting out or unsubscribing from all of your email blasts.
If your customer wants to stop receiving all emails from your business, the subscription management service allows them to opt-out of all future email messages.
Separation of Marketing and Transactional Emails
Sometimes even the best email marketers can run into issues with blacklists and deliverability.
By separating marketing emails from transactional emails, ESPs provide a layer of protection that keeps your critical emails delivering while you repair your marketing email issues.
Email Template Management
Many ESPs have web-based email template editors that can help you create fully-customized HTML messages.
By leveraging their templates, you can be sure your email will render correctly on desktop and mobile email clients.
Template management systems also provide hosting of your email images, saving time when using the same template for multiple campaigns.
CAN-SPAM Act Compliance
Under email marketing regulations, you must ensure a customer who unsubscribes from your email stops receiving emails.
ESPs provide systems that manage signups and unsubscribes for you, making it easy to honor permission-based marketing.
Related content: CAN-SPAM Act
Campaign Automation or Marketing Automation
Campaign automation allows you to create email journeys that nurture your leads through a path that you've designed.
Automation leverages your customer's action on a previous email.
Did your customer open your last email but not click it?
Maybe you want to send them a follow-up in the hope of getting that click.
Did they click the email but not convert once on your website?
Send them a reminder email that your offer will expire soon.
These are examples of uses of campaign automation.
Activating Your Customers with Email Marketing
Once you've decided on your ESP, it's time to import your email marketing database.
Before you import your email list, ensure the email addresses are in the correct format. Otherwise, the import process will remove those emails.
If this is your first email blast to a list of customers you've collected over many years, you should start with a welcome email.
A welcome email is your chance to introduce your new email marketing program to your customers.
Your customers will appreciate your honest intentions and will hopefully remain part of your email marketing program.
The welcome email also provides an opportunity for customers to opt-out of your program.
You don't want to annoy your customers, so ensure your message's content is short and to the point.
Once your customers have received your welcome email and have had the opportunity to opt-out, it's time to send your first promotional email.
Here are a few tips to help you with your promotional emails:
- Promotional emails should contain a relevant, specific offer and a strong call to action.
- Choose your subject line carefully.
- The more personalized and relevant your subject line, the more likely your email recipient will open and read your offer.
- Your marketing message must instruct your customers explicitly on what you want them to do.
- You have about 4 seconds to convince them your offer is worth their time, so craft your text clearly and concisely.
Your Email Schedule
How often you send emails to your subscriber list is up to you.
Some companies send once a week, others bi-weekly, or even monthly.
It's best to review your email analytics data to determine if you're tiring your customers.
High levels of unsubscribes can be a sign you're over emailing.
High engagement rates, such as open rates over 20% and click rates over 5%, may indicate that you should send emails more often.
Every business is different, so take the time to listen to your data and adjust as you see fit.
If you need help with your starting your email marketing program, please contact us.
We'd be happy to discuss your email marketing strategy and help you design emails that generate engagement, increase revenue, and grow your business.
Related content: Affordable Email Marketing Packages
We offer affordable email marketing packages.