5 steps to getting customers with email marketing by ps94506

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									5 steps to getting customers with email marketing
Posted on August 9, 2011 by Luke Telford




Email marketing has long been one of the most effective ways of marketing a business online. It‟s
simple, direct and given that email use is nearly ubiquitous, not limited demographically.


What many businesses don‟t fully understand is that email can be used to generate new customers,
as well as secure long-standing ones. The key to achieving this is to be forthcoming with the eternal
customer question „what‟s in it for me?‟


1. Set up a mailing list

The first step in any email marketing campaign is to establish a list of email addresses to send to.
There are a number of ways to do this, but the most important thing to understand is the legal details
around collecting email addresses for marketing purposes.


To learn more about the difference between expressed consent and implied consent, and why that‟s
important in email marketing, read Nett‟s Ten Common Mistakes in Email Marketing.


Although choosing to buy a list of email addresses can increase exposure, it could also hurt the
perception of your brand online. For the purpose of finding and engaging new customers, it‟s best that
the list is made up of people who have actively signed up out of interest in your business.


Steve Hamilton, managing director of Honeyweb, insists that list buying should be out of the question
for small businesses.


“When building a list, do it opt-in or don‟t do it all,” says Hamilton “Buying it is creating spam, simple
as that.”
Recipients that have „opted in‟ are much more likely to respond well to regular marketing emails, even
if their interaction might be less than inspiring to begin with.


“That‟s the great thing about email marketing,” he continues. “If you‟ve done it the correct way with an
opt-in list, recipients are generally more than happy to receive the information. I‟ve had clients who‟ve
sent a newsletter out 12 times, and on the thirteenth time gotten a $40,000 sale.”


In order to build an „opt-in‟ list, it‟s essential to give prospective customers lots of opportunities to sign
up to your newsletter.


“Businesses should be looking to leverage existing touch points with potential customers and asking
for an email address wherever possible,” says Matthew Johnson, EDM specialist at Creative 6. “This
includes things like in-store at the point of sale, at industry events, in sales calls and on the website.”


It‟s wise to be fully transparent about what subscribers will receive upon signing up to the list. This not
only ensures they‟ll be more receptive to your marketing, but can help to sell the idea of the
newsletter to them.


“For best results, it‟s important to let people know the benefits your emails have to offer them,” says
Johnson. “These could be things like discounts, exclusive offers, invitations to special events, or even
access to helpful information they might not receive otherwise.”


Steven Lewis, owner of author coaching service Taleist, takes every opportunity on his site to
encourage visitors to sign up to his newsletters.


“I push [the Taleist newsletter] super hard through the blog,” says Lewis. “If you have a look at it, you
will see there‟s at least four options per page to join the list. I‟m always experimenting with new ways
to do that.”


If you already have a modest email list and are looking to expand it, Honeyweb‟s Hamilton suggests
trying the „forward to a friend‟ approach.


“You send out an email to your own database that contains an incentive to forward it to their friends,”
he says. “That way, your database can start spreading the word on your behalf. Obviously, if I
received an email from you as a friend of mine, that‟s a lot more powerful than having then business
send me one out of the blue, where I had nothing to do with them before then.”


2. Give them what they want
Content is the heart and soul of email marketing. The better and more relevant your email content is
to recipients, the more successful your email marketing will be. For tips on how to establish what type
of content is best for your business, read Nett‟s Top 5 Ways To Market Your Business Online. The
key to writing good content for email marketing is to give your subscriber base something that they
will find useful.


“Everything comes back to the content,” says Lewis. “You have to constantly ask yourself „what is
useful to my readers?‟ It‟s not necessarily useful to your readers to know that you‟re stocking a new
weed killer, it‟s useful to them to know how to deal with weeds and improve their gardening ability. If
you‟re coming at it constantly from the framework of „what would I be interested in receiving?‟ you‟ll do
a lot better than if you come at it from the point of view of „what am I interested in sending?‟”


3. Strike a balance between content and promotion

Having established an email contact database, it‟s wise to resist the temptation to simply hammer
recipients with offers. Although broadcasting promotions might feel like the most direct way to
increase your customer numbers, balancing offers out with genuinely useful content is a much better
approach.


In order to ensure a reasonable conversion rate from an email marketing campaign, it‟s best to add
more value than just a promotion. Not everyone will be interested in a promotion – those that aren‟t
will unsubscribe after a few emails – but if you turn the focus of each email to providing useful
content, recipients will be much more likely to stay interested in your business.


“It‟s important to send a mix of promotional, informative and educational messages,” says Vision 6‟s
Johnson. “Unless your customers buy from you on a regular basis, bombarding their inboxes
exclusively with promotional emails is going to create list fatigue, where people lose interest in your
emails very quickly.”


When Taleist‟s Lewis sends an email offer, he makes certain that the content it‟s coupled with is
useful in and of itself.


“If I am offering a promotion, the content always stands on its own anyway,” he says. “If you don‟t go
and buy the offer at the end of it, you‟re still going to know more about the website and have some
ideas about what you could be doing.”


Given that you‟re already an expert in your professional field, the only real challenge is to match your
email content to the interests of your database. Amongst Honeyweb‟s clients, Hamilton identifies an
organic café that uses email to distribute content about the ecological and health benefits of organic
food, a gym that provides fitness advice to its database, and a number of restaurants that use email to
entice recipients with recipes.


4. Use auto-responders

Many site visitors will be simply too wary of being spammed to sign up for an email newsletter. As a
way of enticing such tentative prospects, Taleist‟s Lewis uses the auto-response function in his email
marketing software to offer a five-week „inspiration series‟ newsletter.


“That‟s a really easy entry for people,” he explains. “I make it perfectly clear you‟re only going to hear
from me for five weeks, you‟re only going to hear once a week, and what you‟re going to hear is
useful to you. I would say, at the end of that series, there wouldn‟t be many people who‟ve done the
five week course who then don‟t come back and sign up to the main mailing list.”


For more clever ways to use auto-responders in email marketing, read Automated Marketing by Clare
Lancaster of Dot Marketing.


5. Be personable

It‟s a good idea to be as personable as you can afford to be in your email marketing. Acknowledging
recipients as individuals and taking the time to respond to their queries will result in a more attentive
and forgiving database.


For example, when a visitor signs up to Taleist‟s newsletter service, they receive a friendly,
uncomplicated auto-response message from the business that asks if they are receiving what they
were expecting to, and that offers Lewis‟s help if required.


“What shocked me was the number of people who replied to it to say „Yeah, I‟m getting it! It‟s really
helpful. I have a question,‟” says Lewis. “It was just way of saying „I post three times a week. It‟s been
a week now that you‟ve been with me, so if you haven‟t heard from me at all, please go and have a
look in your spam filter and please sort it out.‟ But people take it as a personal response.”


Taking this kind of approach with your mailing list also results in better customers, as Lewis
discovered.


“I get a much better conversion rate from my mailing list than I do from just putting something on the
website,” he says. “That‟s because we build that relationship with people.”


In the course of running the site, Lewis admits to having received some unpleasant emails from
customers who have encountered problems with transactions or products.
“When people who subscribe to the list have a problem, you get a completely different email that
comes back,” he says. “Those people have a relationship with you that partly has been formed by
things like getting the occasional personalised email. I‟ve found it just creates a completely different
experience between vendor and customer.”

								
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