Email Marketing for Newbies
Email marketing has always been one of the most effective ways of promoting goods and services, if done well, and one of the most annoying and unwanted things, if done badly. You decide what way to choose.
The most important point of proper email marketing is sending newsletters to proper people, i.e. representatives of your target audience, who are interested in you a priori, and who have given you a permission to include their emails into your mailing list. Once you have received these contacts, you get an opportunity to begin sending these people your newsletters on a regular basis.
Now let us observe the procedure of collecting email addresses for our lists and promoting our goods and servicer by means of email marketing.
1. The first thing you should do is decide what your target audience is, what these people are interested in, what are their needs and problems, and how you can help them. Nowadays you cannot just send advertising letters full of your products’ glorification. Because nobody cares. People are tired of ads. They need no information on how great you are. If you cannot solve their problems, just go into a trash box. The best way to gain loyalty is to give value. You could teach people how to use your product or, even better, tell them something interesting and useful concerning your sphere on the whole. For example, if you deal with real estate, you could describe pitfalls one must consider while choosing a house or an apartment. Not in your agency, but generally. Do you feel the difference? The experience shows that, even if a person you have helped, does not buy you product at once, you get a loyal prospect who will most likely choose your company when there comes his time to make a purchase. This is the main principle of educational marketing – the most respected (though long-termed) way of product promotion and reputation building.
You should have enough tips for weekly newsletters, and they should be unique and valuable. Before you start, make sure you’ve got a reserve of such materials to begin with, and enough sources of information and inspiration to go on.
Perhaps the best way to organize the process would be opening of your company’s blog on a separate page. Except traditional roles played by blogs, it would serve as a store for your articles, and all you need to do is to update it regularly and send teasers in your newsletters with links leading back to blog posts.
Now that you have a strategy, let’s move to its technical implementation.
2. To collect emails place a sign-up form on every page of your website, somewhere at the side panel, but in the first screen, so that visitors should not scroll to see it. Many site owners prefer pop-ups, but we would not recommend using them. Firstly, they are often blocked by browsers, and secondly, people hate them. Especially those pop-ups that appear at the very moment of entering a site, giving you no opportunity even to look around, to see what it’s all about, to estimate the site and decide if it’s interesting for you. Would you enter your personal information in an annoying pop-up, if you have not even seen the site? That’s right. Nobody would. That’s why a well-designed sign-up form at the side panel is better.
What do we mean when we say “well-designed”? It means that it should be noticeable, have a bright button and/or a call to action, stimulating people to sign up.
An important detail: nowadays nobody is eager to pass out his personal information everywhere. To overcome the visitor’s indecision you should offer something in exchange. It may be a one-time discount, a bonus or a gift – to involve and to say “thanks” for the trust. Another sort of saying “thanks” is giving a really valuable educational material. We’ve already mentioned such articles in the previous paragraph, but in this case the concentration of use and profit should be the highest possible – and announced right in the subscription form. For example: “Subscribe to our weekly newsletters and get a FREE report “How to Conquer the World in 7 Days”! Your headings (“About” field of the email) should make it clear that if one ignores the article, he deprives himself of something truly important and may even face some problems which he would surely avoid having read the article. One more example: if you sell trips to Paris you could suggest the following headings: “The most Extended Risks Tourists Usually Run in Paris” or “7 Ways to Spoil Your Paris Vacation” or “9 Vital Things You Should Know About Shopping in Paris”, etc. And please remember that the heading is a promise that must be fulfilled in the article. Do not deceive your readers and give them what you’ve promised.
What else you may point:
- this valuable report is FREE,
- newsletters are weekly (nobody wants to get them too often), and
- you’ll never share your subscribers’ emails and have no intention to spam (it is called confidential policy).
Some website owners design special pages for getting emails. They are called squeeze pages, and they have no other content except an opt-in form + call to action (as a rule, with “bullets” or a video describing benefits of subscription), and no other links, buttons or menu items except a big “Subscribe” button. This is made to prevent a visitor from going elsewhere and from drawing him away of the main action desired (entering his contacts). There are only three ways to leave a squeeze page: to subscribe, to close it or to return to the previous page in the browser. You may use this method as well.
3. Do not forget to collect your customers’ emails offline. For example, you may put “Your email address” field into forms they fill out when getting your discount cards or find other ways of getting contacts.
Here are some frequently asked questions concerning email marketing.
What email services to use?
There are plenty of services that can make your mailing handy, effective, smart and aesthetic. For example, such services as AWeber or MailChimp give you an opportunity to make stylish samples with logos, backgrounds and so on. They let you create different mailing lists, personalize and schedule your newsletters and – one of the most important things! – monitor the effectiveness of each campaign, checking out how many people have opened the letter, clicked on links, complained of spam and so on. It would be a long speech if we describe all the advantages of mailing services, so please google and get the full information.
How often should I mail?
Once or twice a week will be enough: your subscribers won’t be tired and, at the same time, won’t forget about you. Or you can create one weekly newsletter with useful materials, and another – with promotional information. Don’t forget about time difference, if you deal with recipients from other time zones. According to statistics, the best time for the people to get and read newsletters is mornings of Monday and Wednesday. Though, everything depends on your sphere of business. If you are connected with entertaining, perhaps your ideal time would be the end of the week.
Customers’ education is great. But how to promote products via newsletters?
Except useful tips you will certainly place some promotional information on your goods and services in your newsletters. But you should do it correctly. Your ads should not occupy more than 25% of the whole texts. Place ads now and then after or between the neutral information in order not to annoy people. Do place news about bonuses, gifts, discounts and so on. And do announce it in the headings (“About” fields). Don’t forget to point not only features (descriptions), but also benefits of your products, i.e. explain what problems of your target audience they solve, and how they differ from other products of the kind. Provide good photos, prices, special offers, contacts, maps and other necessary details concerning your company and products. And, certainly, don’t forget about links.
Placing promotional information on specific goods or services provide a link to a proper landing page – not to homepage of your website, but to the mentioned product itself. A visitor must not hang around the site in search of the necessary item. If he finds that he’s got lost, he’ll leave your site and go to your competitors with a better interface. By the way, this is one of the reasons why your interface and navigation should be as clear and user-friendly as possible. Though, this is another story.
In conclusion we would like to stress, that the main purpose of any marketing activity is not TAKING something from people. It is GIVING and HELPING.
Good luck to you and your business!