In today’s economy, it is harder than it has been in a very long time to get the customer to open up his wallet and give you his credit card information. Due to this, small businesses that fail to innovate or, worse still, fail to connect with their existing customer base, simply fail. One of the simplest ways to make this vital connection with an existing customer base is to produce a monthly e-newsletter.

In addition to the obvious benefit of making the customer base feel appreciated and “in the know,” a monthly e-newsletter allows for experimentation within that group of people. By taking the core of your consumer base and subjecting it to things such as new schemes for sales, you are given a quick and dirty look into how well this new idea will fare with the cross-section of the population with the highest response rate toward your personal product. This high response rate also extends to the ability to leverage your existing customer base to provide free product reviews, free general marketing information, and free off-the-record critiques by simply asking them. People are often quite pleased when they learn their opinions not only valued, but specifically asked for. Use that impulse.

For those with very small businesses, the production of a monthly newsletter is just another regular cadence that can prove to the IRS that you are a business and not just a hobby. Remember, hobbies don’t pay the self-employment income tax, but cannot offset losses with deductions to anywhere near the same extent as a business. For those who are transitioning to a larger, more stable business, having as many sources of proof that you are serious about this as you possibly can will help enable you to classify yourself as a business.

Email marketing may help you reach your target audience or stay in touch with past customers, but it can also create problems if you do not use caution when you are creating a marketing campaign. Fortunately, understanding what is appropriate and what is not will help.

Do Not Send Messages Several Times Per Day

Never send email ads more than once in a day. Ideally, limit the ads to two or three times per week. Sending several emails will result in being considered a spammer rather than a legitimate company.

Do Create Content that is Easy on the Eyes

Reading online is hard on the eyes due to the glare from a computer. Make your ads easier to read by offering a large amount of empty space. For example, create bullet points and keep your paragraphs very short. Make it easy to scan the advertisement.

Do Make the Headline Compelling

Focus on a catchy subject or headline that will make your customers interested in looking further. For example, if you are having a sale, then advertise the possible savings in the subject line.

Do Not Make Major Changes

After you select colors and the basic design of your brand, do not change it. Consistency is a key part of reaching your target audience because it shows that you are a company rather than a scam artist. Consistency can make customers more likely to look at your emails.

Do Allow Customers to Opt-Out of Emails

Although it might seem counter-productive, give customers the chance to tell you that they do not want emails. Offering the opt-out option will allow them to decide if they want to look further.

Email marketing can help improve the growth of your business, but you need to follow a few rules to make it more effective. By learning the dos and don’ts of the marketing strategy, you will see a greater level of success in the future.

Email marketing is an effective way to reach your potential customers, but only if they actually look at the email. The key to creating an effective email marketing campaign is focusing on producing email newsletters, advertisements and announcements that your potential customers are willing to look at when they are already busy.

Create a Marketing Plan

Set a specific direction for your marketing campaign and work on creating email messages that follow that idea. Organize each ad so that it is consistent with the previous ads. Nothing is more irritating than a marketing strategy that has no obvious direction and constantly seems to contradict itself. Create a focus point, even if it is just that you sell great products.

Make the Message Easy to Scan

Email marketing is not the same as a video ad or a newsletter you sent in the mail. Focus on concise messages that are easy to scan. When men and women read online, they do not usually read word-for-word until after a quick scan shows what the email is about. Use bullet points and break up the text with short paragraphs.

Limit the Emails

Send one email every few days rather than sending an email message every day. By staggering the emails and sending them less often, the email is less likely to end up in the spam folder. Nobody likes to have an inbox with so many email ads they can’t possibly follow the message. Limit the messages with one or two ads in a week and a newsletter once every two weeks or one month.

Email marketing is not as complicated as it might seem, but it does have a few key rules that make it effective. By focusing on your main point, creating messages that are easy to scan and respecting your customer’s space, you are more likely to see an increase in sales.

Are you looking to improve the effectiveness of your email marketing program?

If so, there are always different things that we can look at — this might include content, delivery rates, Subject Line testing, and more. Along with those items, I wanted to share three trends that may help companies to experience more success in their email efforts.

P.S. These trends are not necessarily new. But even though people
may have been aware of them for a little while, many of us have still not taken any action.

Mobile Devices and Reading

As the number of smartphone owners continues to rise, more and more people will become quite acquainted (and addicted) to having the ability to check their email at any time, wherever they may go.

This will mean that marketers will need to invest time and effort in doing the following:

  • Testing how their current emails appear on various mobile devices
  • Finding ways to tinker with their content, layout, and underlying HTML/CSS to ensure their email looks good across as many devices as possible

Of course, many will acknowledge that designing emails for typical desktop and laptop viewing was already a challenge, due to the fact that various email clients render the code differently!

However, there are various resources popping up that do provide some help on how you can design your emails for mobile devices.

Social Networks and Sharing

We all know the power of word-of-mouth marketing. We want our content to go viral. But do we make it easy for people to start sharing and spreading our messages?

When it comes to creating and designing emails, we often spend most of our time worrying about the content and layout. And while that is important, we certainly do not want to overlook adding features that might encourage people to share our content. This may include:

  • Adding a “Tell-a-Friend” link or button
  • Displaying icons and links for sharing specific articles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Dropping subtle hints that might remind someone to pass along an article to someone else

Personalization

Technology has made it easier than ever before for marketers to build & manage databases. It has also made it easier for people to create emails that will have variable content based on the data that you may have.

However, this is an option that is often ignored. Many marketers feel the pressure to simply “get the email out the door”. Thus, taking the time to plan and create multiple versions that will offer up unique content might seem like a tactic that could stall a project.

But it may be worth investing the time to try and test out some form of personalization in your next email. Whether it’s simply serving up an article that might appear to specific industry that is represented in your list, or customizing your wording based on the types of products & services that your subscribers may offer, you may be able to increase the effectiveness of your emails.

Yes, content rules. And timing is everything. Oh, and it can make a big difference if you target ME specifically. But in the end, those things are only possible if you have a good great database.

If you are looking for ways to build your marketing database, a very practical goal is to increase the amount of people that are subscribed to your newsletter. How can you do this?

Here are 10 ideas that may help!

  1. Your Corporate Website: This is where the effort should absolutely start. When people visit your corporate website, there should be a clear call-to-action to encourage them to sign up for your newsletter. In many cases, there should be a link or form built into every page within your site. However, you could also look for ways to incorporate that encouragement into your web content (for example — 000-998 would you like more tips such as the ones found in this blog post? Sign up for our free eNewsletter!)
  2. On Lead Generation Forms: Marketers spend a lot of time, energy, and money getting people to visit their lead generation forms. When people take the time to fill them out and ask for more information, include “Sign me for your newsletter” as an option on the form as well.
  3. At Trade Shows: Simply scanning a person’s badge at your booth does not exactly give you permission to add them to your newsletter subscription list. However, you should actively seek to build up your database at the show. This may mean encouraging sales reps to ask people to sign up when they swing by… Or, you could have a QR Code in your booth that directs people to a mobile-optimized sign-up page.
  4. Facebook: It truly is easier than ever to create custom tabs on your company’s Facebook page. By putting a custom tab that encourages people to sign up for your eNewsletter, you’ll be able to start developing a multi-channel conversation with folks that are interested in your company.
  5. Phone Reps: Make it easy for employees that talk on the phone to sign someone up for your newsletter via your CRM solution. Sure, they will need to ask the person on the other line for their permission. But when they do receive it, make sure that they can easily update their preferences in seconds.
  6. Email Signatures: Guess who might truly want to receive your
    EC0-232 eNewsletter? Yep, the people that are already communicating with you via email! Perhaps these are prospects, media/PR folks, former customers, or other associates. Increase exposure to your newsletter by highlighting it within your email signature.
  7. In the Waiting Room: Do you have an area of your office where people might spend some time waiting for a meeting or appointment? Use the power of print to make them aware of your newsletter. Perhaps this is done via a sign on a wall, or via a table-tent piece in the middle of the room.
  8. Encourage Current Subscribers to Share: Do not assume that just because someone loves your newsletter that they will automatically tell others about it. Add social and email sharing tools to your newsletter that make it easy for people to spread the word about it.
  9. Mention it During Webinars and Presentations: As marketers, we are all willing to pay for the opportunities to have a captive audience. During those times, we must fully take advantage of the exposure opportunities that are available to us. Did you just deliver one heck of an informative webinar or presentation? Encourage people to learn more by signing up for your company’s newsletter.
  10. Via a Tattoo on Your Face: Okay, did I get your attention with that idea? I hope so… Here’s what I mean — don’t be afraid to think outside of the box when it comes to dreaming of ways to grow your list! Do not shy away from things such as Foursquare, QR Codes, Twitter… Do not discount all ideas that involve giveaways, contests, or some other sort of gimmick. Rather, creativity may be your best friend when it comes to finding ways to dramatically growing your list.

eNewsletters are a very valuable tool for reaching out and keeping in contact with your followers and clients. Many benefits can come out of this marketing effort when they are being used correctly, here are some of our favorites.

  • Company news can be shared. eNewsletters can contain all of the top news your business has been generating, important industry trends, or pertinent human resources events. It makes complete sense to have an eNewsletter to send out to your database.
  • Contact lists can grow. Encourage customers to enter their emails on your website in order to get a variety of news and bulletins in a timely manner. Overtime, a few new contacts here and there will become a brand new list of inquiries your sales team can follow up with!
  • Other marketing channels can be promoted. eNewsletter can be highly interactive, especially if you integrate your social media marketing channels. By adding a YouTube video to your that are out there.
  • Your team can be promoted. An eNewsletter is a chance for your company to exhibit some personality and to humanize your brand. Being personable and stepping out from behind the company’s curtain makes your brand more relatable to your readers.
  • Great information can be shared. A lot of valuable content can be shared through eNewsletters. Information such as industry tips, best practices, and case studies can all be ways to help educate your audience and start a conversation with them. Encourage readers to write back with questions and comments!
  • Brand awareness can be built. Design your eNewsletter to match your company’s branding and color scheme, and give it an appealing layout that won’t overwhelm the eyes of your subscribers.
  • Services can be promoted. By utilizing the sidebars or banners of your eNewsletter, you can offer promotions or additional links that you might want to steer subscribers towards. Promoting upcoming webinars, available eBooks, or related services entices readers to visit your website to learn more about that particular topic.

Your eNewsletter is a powerful asset if it is well put-together. It involves your readers and offers them multiple forms of media for them to engage in. Make it so good that your customers can’t wait to get next month’s edition!

It is certainly wise for your company to continue using email efforts in your marketing mix.

However, one of the biggest challenges that marketers face is how to get their target audience to pay attention to their emails.

One of the best ways to improve the success of your efforts (whether you’re measuring by open rates, click-throughs, or a further conversion) is to test and try variations of your content and design.

Here are 4 features that you could try testing in your email program today:

  • Subject Line: If you are sending out an eNewsletter, then you have a prime candidate to try a test with. Measure the effectiveness of an email that simply says “[Company Name Here]‘s Newsletter” versus a Subject Line that describes what is in the article (i.e. “News For You: Direct Marketing Case Study, SEO Tips, and More”).
  • FROM Name: The Display Name that people see in the FROM can play an important role in their decision-making process as to whether to open and take action on an email. Are they familiar with the name? Do they associate that name with an unsolicited sales pitch or with someone who has helped them in the past? Try running a test where you send the email out from the name of someone on your staff (perhaps the CEO, VP of Sales, a Product Manager, etc.) and then measure that against what happens when the FROM displays the name of your company.
  • Image Buttons vs. Text Links: Getting someone to open the email might be the first step. But from there, you need them to take action. Try testing an email that primarily includes text links versus one that incorporates graphical buttons in the call-to-action.
  • The Wording of Your Offer: What would work better on your audience: “Try
    our brand-new product today!” or “Improve Your Business: Get Started with [Product Name Here]”? Run a variation of the key words in your offer and then measure to see what drives the highest number of clicks and conversions.

Email is definitely a marketing channel that shouldn’t be neglected, you just have to be aware of which components you should adjust and track for more success!