There comes a point in every small business when it's time to continue expanding your online marketing techniques. Once you've gotten into the habit of publishing blog posts consistently, and keeping up with the social media platforms of your choice, its time to branch out your online reach.
So where do you turn?
The next, natural step is email marketing.
Follow these 5 email marketing best practices for best results:
This is crucial in every marketing campaign you undertake, no matter what it is. There should always be a plan for your marketing, otherwise it will not be effective and it may never even reach your audience.
Here are the top 5 questions you need to answer in order to have a solid plan for your campaign:
Who is your target audience (or buyer persona)?
What is your target audience interested in knowing? In other words, what content are you sharing?
When is your target audience most likely to have leisure time to read through an email?
Where will they be opening said email? On the computer, on a mobile device? Is your email optimized for these different devices?
Why would your audience sign up in the first place? Why would they want to click on your email subject line? Why would they not hit unsubscribe after reading your email?
This is just the beginning of your email marketing plan, but its a good place to start. These questions may not be perfectly answered at first, and they may evolve over time. Especially the what, when, and why. But without a plan to base your first few campaigns off of, you will not have the opportunity to learn and change this plan over time. Create a plan, experiment, and learn from your mistakes.
2. Data Segmentation
There are multiple ways to segment your campaigns, but here are a few that are the most obvious, and will provide you with the best results in your first attempts at email marketing:
Segment by Gender
This is especially important if you have different products for different genders, or if your products tend to appeal to a specific gender.
If a male customer keeps receiving emails about products that are marketed towards women, and he previously purchased only male related items, and made sure to check male when signing up for your email list, he is going to unsubscribe. The same goes for the female who has been purchasing only female targeted products. This is just sloppy marketing.
Segment by Location
If your a fairly small business and only have one location, this may not make a lot of sense. But if you have two locations: one in Dallas, TX and one in Los Angeles, CA there is a big difference in what you will want each location's customers to receive.
If your doing different promotions, or have different products in these two different locations you want to ensure that the right group of customers is receiving the right email content.
Segment by Age
This is another very important, yet highly obvious, segmentation. Depending on the type of product or service you are attempting to sell, some may be more age appropriate for teens than a middle aged crowd. You also may have some senior discounts to offer, so that content is going to be different from what you want to send to your millennial subscribers.
Segment by Previous Purchases
This is a highly powerful tool. Knowing what types of purchases this person is looking to make can greatly increase the likelihood that you send them content and products they will actually care about and want to buy.
Have you ever noticed Amazon's emails or recommendations on their web page based on your past purchases or the purchases of other people who bought the same product? These can be highly helpful to someone desirous of purchasing similar products in the future, and can help target the type of buyer that person is.
3. Creative Content
This goes under the "what" category discussed in the planning section. The goal is to provide interesting and creative content that your target audience is going to find useful. Useful enough that they won't unsubscribe or delete your emails without even opening them.
So how does one go about doing this? Well, think about what works with your blog posts. And don't be afraid to recycle content if needed.
What are your customers interested in? Do you have exclusive deals you can be offering clients through email? Do you have exclusive content that goes beyond what you post on your blog posts? Perhaps you should give your email list special access to products or content before any one else.
Just think about what you have to offer that is valuable to customers or potential customers and use it to create powerful content for your emails. And don't be afraid to have a strong voice in your emails. This is a personal form of communication and requires personality to be interesting and fun.
This is key to the list of email marketing best practices, as it gives you the ability to sit back and let your email marketing do all the work. Once you have captured that lead who wants to learn more, they can begin receiving automated emails that encourage the purchase or other action that is desired. This automation should be a series of emails based on the segmentation you have already set up that encourages your leads along a path of action.
For some reason I love love love receiving emails asking for feedback. There's something so appealing about companies asking for feedback. It also might have to do with my own personal need to express my opinions, but I really do think that it is also reflective of the society we work within today.
With social media and review sites like Yelp, people are highly interested in providing feedback and responses to products and services. And when brands ask for feedback it makes customers (or even potential customers) feel like their opinion matters, and it strengthens the bond between a brand and a customer.
If someone has bought your products or services in the past, just simply ask them to complete a survey or provide some feedback based on their experiences. Even if they only visited the website and just provided their email address, you can still ask for feedback on what you could do better and ultimately improve your customer focus.
Think creatively too: ask your audience what exclusive content they want access to through these emails. Create a sense of community by making these personal connections with your customers and making it clear that their opinion matters, and that you are listening.
Email marketing may seem overwhelming at first, but it is another important piece of your online marketing campaigns. With these email marketing best practices under your belt, and an openness to learn about your customers, email marketing can not only increase your sales overall, but also help you in all aspects of your marketing strategy. It opens up a whole other means of communication with your customers.
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