These mass email marketing basics cover the “ground rules” of this sales and marketing activity and provide guidance on overall strategy. After reading this article – or before, if you prefer! - make sure you check out tips, best practices and my other articles on email list marketing. There is a huge upside to setting up an email program as long as it is done properly. That being said, you can end up wasting a lot of time and negatively impacting your brand by not heeding this advice.
Before you consider anything else, Rule #1 of mass email marketing is: don't buy lists. If you can handle that, then read on. If not, you probably shouldn't worry about my tips and advice because none of it will matter if you are going to spam people (sorry, but it's true!). As with most other sales and marketing activities, email marketing only works when done in a professional and when you do the work. The starting point is building your own email list.
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The simple answer is because it works. Email is free and email marketing is therefore a very cost effective way to stay in touch with customer and prospects in order to nurture relationships. You can't call each of your customers once or twice a month but with one click, you can reach out to everyone on your contact list which may be thousands of people as you keep adding names to it.
The good folks at Email-Marketing-Report.com compiled a number of amazing statistics showing just how powerful a marketing tool an email program can be. The bottom line is that if you do it right and invest the time and effort, you too can generate the industry average of $42.08 for every dollar spent on email marketing in 2010. That is why rock bands give away CDs in exchange for email addresses and why offering your own customers valuable incentives in exchange for their email addresses is not a bad idea, either.
I discuss some of the foundational concepts and guidelines behind running a successful mass email marketing campaign below. Even if you do not do any email marketing today, it can become a cornerstone of your online marketing strategy by investing some time and effort. While it seems simple enough to email your customers and prospects from time to time, having these benchmarks and points in mind will help guide your process and enable you to build your mass email marketing program into a success while avoiding common pitfalls.
Mass Email Marketing: Permission
In his definitive book on Permission Marketing, marketing guru Seth Godin talks about how traditional approaches to sales and marketing are failing and how advertising no longer works. People are no longer receptive to the millions of commercial messages they are being bombarded with and on the contrary, seeking permission to market to them is the basis for mass email marketing and social media marketing. Therefore ask and build your list!
Permission Marketing works and leads to the even softer marketing that you will utilize on social media sites. As such, your goal is to ask customers and prospects for their email addresses at every opportunity. This can be online, in person or one the phone. It can be done with your email, business cards and in your ads. You can offer special gifts or incentives in order for people to sign up to your mailing lists and promise to send them valuable offers and useful information. It takes time and is an ongoing process to build your list. Always ask and neverbuy email lists!
Mass Email Marketing: Segmentation
Market Segmentation is about knowing your customers so that you can effectively sell to them and this is no different in the world of email marketing. In extreme cases, you may have different newsletters for different groups of customers related to different products or services or another categorization. Typically, however, you must be aware of your customer's lifestyle, values and buying habits in order to communicate to these.
Having a picture of your ideal customer and then directing your sales and marketing activities towards that person is what segmentation is all about. This picture may be corroborated by real people or it may be a conglomerate of different people who think and behave like your expect your ideal customer to. You need to be able to nurture a relationship with this ideal person and that relationship should extend over time. You need to get to know them and speak to them – not to mention email them! - as you would a good friend.
Mass Email Marketing: Relevance
This word comes up a lot when you talk to email marketers and what it boils down to is sending your customers information that they care about. Segmentation asks the question, “who are my customers?” while relevance asks, “why should they care about this?” People do not want to receive sales and marketing pitches from you but rather want to hear from a personable expert in your industry who they can turn to for help (you!).
I am not saying that you should not sell using email or that people do not appreciate good offers. What I am saying is that the backbone of a truly successful mass email marketing program lies in offering your customer quality content that is interesting, entertaining or useful to them in some shape or form. If you simply email ads, there is a good chance that people will stop responding to these and even stop opening you email.
Mass Email Marketing: Measurement
As well as the power of targeting your message to different customers through segmentation in mass email marketing, a variety of data points are generally used in order to continually refine your efforts and achieve greater results. While you cannot measure everything, it is definitely a good idea to establish some benchmarks by which you can track your progress and continue to improve.
As well as setting up tracking systems to measure responses from your email campaigns, email bouncebacks let you know when a customer has changed their email address or moved on to another job. In addition, more advanced email marketing systems allow you to track open rates and clickthroughs to your website (which leads to tracking user activity on your website, a lot of which can be managed by your website program or administrator).
Mass Email Marketing: Call to Action
My own news blog is mostly informational with a couple of links at the end to my contact page and latest updates. My primary goal is simply to be an available expert on sales and marketing and to drive traffic to my website. If you are like most marketers, however, a major component of your mass email marketing strategy will be built around customer response. After all, the goal of sales and marketing is to compel customers to act, right?
Your call to action does not just have to be getting someone to buy something from you. It can be anything from a simple visit your website to a referral for your business or just providing you with feedback. Your main goal is to stay engaged with your customers and get them to participate in the interaction in some shape or form. While you may or may not include a buying offer with every email you send, you should work on developing the relationship and enhancing your customers' experience with everything you do.
Mass Email Marketing General Guidelines
One of the hardest things to do for many business owners is developing a tone in customer communications that is at once professional as well as personable. This is especially true in written communications and is something I call ”You” Messaging. The main thing to remember is that no one wants to read sales and marketing ads and that you must therefore inject personality, warmth and spontaneity into everything you do. Be yourself and have fun with it.
If you tell customers that you are going to send them a bi-weekly communication then for heaven's sake do so! Otherwise, you might consider monthly newsletters or choose a shorter mass email marketing cycle by going weekly. The risk of sending emails too often is that customers may tune out and simply ignore your messages which is something that you do not want to happen. A lot of discussion takes place about the best frequency and timing of emails, down to what time of the day, what day of the week and even the weather! As with all else, use your own best judgment to decide what works for you and your customers.
There are good marketers and bad marketers and you need to decide which one you want to be. Mass email marketing for legitimate businesses only works when done with integrity and the starting point is to never buy email lists as this will classify you as a spammer and lead to negative consequences. As well, you should not give or sell your own email list to others and resist the temptation to oversell your list, even if you do see returns on the offers that you send out to folks. Rather, focus on quality, building relationships and establishing your expertise.
An integral part of the email marketing process is to experiment with what works and what does not. Ask your customers for feedback on your business and what kind of information they would like to see from you. You can incorporate customer feedback and stories into your emails to build on your success as well as content from other contributors. Keep trying new things as well as tweaking things like layout and the placement of links and your call to action. Advanced analytics are also available with many email marketing systems as you build a list and develop your email marketing program further.
Collecting email addresses on your website and tying your newsletter into your social media marketing is just the start. From there, you can begin to grow your reputation and use the valuable content you create in order to create referrals and even more success for your business... not to mention the revenue you generate from email offers. There is a saying about online marketing that ”content is king” and so keep trying to find ways – such as blogging and posting articles – of leveraging your mass email marketing content into other and new areas.
Do you have insights, strategies or a story about email marketing to share with other readers? Perhaps you have implemented a new strategy that is working really well or have insights into how the role of email marketing is continuing to evolve. Send in your thoughts in as much detail as you like to create a page in this section.
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