Of all of the types of marketing you can do for your business, email marketing is probably the most affordable and easy — if you know what you’re doing. It’s also absolutely vital.
The downside is that virtually every business utilizes email marketing, and there’s only so much room in one’s email account. Consumers pick and choose the businesses they want to hear from. One false move, and you could find your business in the “unsubscribe” pile (if you were lucky enough to get the subscription in the first place.
The best way to attract and retain those valuable subscribers is to follow best practice. But with a topic as broad as email marketing, how do you know which practices are best? Here are 6 procedures that can make a difference now.
1. Make Your Subscription Form Eye-Catching
By eye-catching, we don’t mean a lot of bells and whistles. Pop-ups can sometimes be more annoying than effective, unless you are offering something the subscriber can benefit from (for example, “Sign up now to receive 10% off on your first order”).
One way to make get subscription form noticed is by making sure it’s in more than one place and that you give more than one option. At the end of each article, give site visitors a form to stay up-to-date with your information, products, services, and promotions.
Another, simpler way is to put the form prominently at the top of the sidebar, with eye-catching color and an appealing pitch.
2. Effective wording
The most ineffective wording is probably “Sign up for our newsletter.” Why should they? What’s in it for them? Also ineffective is something along the lines of “Do you want to receive emails from us?” — because, frankly, the answer is probably no.
Offer them something of value.
Most people sign up for emails and newsletters from e-commerce sites to receive discounts or to be alerted to sales. If your emails include such things, use it to draw subscribers in. Words and phrases that can help draw in subscribers include:
- Exclusive deals
- Coupon codes
- Special offers>
- Be the first (to learn about new products, to receive sale pricing, etc.)
It can also help to present your newsletter/email list as an exclusive club. And it is, in a way — anyone can join, but the content is delivered exclusively to subscribers.
At Marketing For Owners, only members of The Owners Club receive our exclusive member-only email ezine.
Be sure your prospective subscribers know that they’ll be getting valuable information first, before non-subscribers who visit the site.
The only thing a generic “Sign up for our newsletter” gets right is that it’s succinct. Your invitation to subscribe should be one sentence, two maximum, if the first is a good hook. For example:
A hook, followed by three things subscribers will receive and a promise of exclusivity. Short, sweet, and effective.
3. Promise you won’t spam them
Most people have signed up for emails and found themselves bombarded with unwanted messages — and if they’re unwanted, they’ll be considered spam, even if they willingly signed up.
If you send out daily emails, make it clear. If your newsletter is released weekly or monthly, say it.
It’s a good idea to require new subscribers to confirm their subscription — the extra step makes subscribers feel more secure, and it ensures that the person who signed up is actually the person who will receive the emails.
And, of course, the option to unsubscribe should always be simple; most newsletter generators will add an unsubscribe link automatically.
With these practices in place, potential subscribers will know what they’re in for, and will be less likely to turn around and unsubscribe
4. Creating your messages
There are two basic types of email marketing: promotional emails and newsletters. A business may choose to go one route or the other, or use a combination of the two. Whichever way you choose, it’s important to know the difference between them, and how each one can work for you.
- Are succinct, with little to no extraneous text
- Are designed to bring the subscriber to the site as quickly as possible
- Include a special deal or announcement
- Are sent out as needed, not necessarily on a set schedule
- Include valuable information
- Focus on content
- Are longer than promotional emails
- Are generally more visual than promotional emails
- May include multiple links
- May include promotional information
- Are sent on a regular schedule, usually weekly or monthly
In general, newsletters are opened more frequently, but promo emails can bring subscribers to the site quickly, if the deal is attractive. Often, people will skip over promotional emails from companies they do business with, until they need that company’s product or service. At that point, they may even look for your latest email in their promotional email folder.
By contrast, subscribers may take the time (but don’t expect too much time) to read your newsletter, if you regularly offer valuable content. Ideally, subscribers will anticipate your newsletter because it offers something they can expect every time — some newsletters feature new products, some feature expert advice, some keep subscribers on top of events.
With newsletters, content is vital and must be high quality. They’re more time-consuming to produce than promotional emails, but if you manage to create a great newsletter that attracts and retains subscribers who read it regularly, you’ve pretty much nailed the art of email marketing.
5. Choosing your strategy
Promotional emails are best when:
- You have frequent special offers
- You sell a product or service with a loyal following
- You can afford to send exclusive discounts to subscribers
- You frequently release new products or update often
Newsletters are best when:
- Your primary product or service involves information
- You are able to create or have access to people who can create strong content
- You have set information to release on a weekly or monthly basis
- You have the time or resources to create a high quality
Whether you choose promotional emails or a newsletter, avoid offering a free gift (such as a coupon for a free item) to be delivered immediately on subscription. Such offers are likely to draw “freebie chasers” who will subscribe for the gift, then either unsubscribe or send future emails to the Trash.
If you want to do giveaways or samples, reward regular customers and loyal subscribers by sending such a gift after they’ve placed an order (or three). Or, if you don’t mind adding birthdate information to your form, you can have it sent automatically on the subscriber’s birthday. (Beware. The extra step will result in fewer subscribers.)
The exception to the “free gift on subscription” rule is if you offer valuable information and/or services. A free downloadable tutorial or text on PDF is a great way to build subscribers — just be sure to make it clear that they will receive emails/newsletters from you for downloading. If the material is good, it will be a good deal for the subscriber, with little to no cost to you.
6. Email marketing tools
One of the best things about email marketing is that you have access to free tools that will help you create emails and newsletters that look terrific and are simple to manage. We recommend these two tools, which we use every day ourselves:
- MailChimp– Extremely user-friendly, from gathering and importing email addresses to creating custom emails and newsletters, this free online tool also helps users to create high-performing subject lines.
- Aweber– This affordable feature-rich email marketing tool helps users design emails and build email lists, with options such as custom auto response and a range of sign-up form templates.
With email marketing best practise in play, and the best tools in use, you can get a high Return on Investment.
Do you have any good email marketing tips or experiences to share? Let us know in the comments.
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