New to email marketing? Start here.

If you haven’t started email marketing, you’re missing out. Email is a great way to reach your audience and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon. In fact, there are several reasons to implement email marketing— it’s cost effective, personalized, drives traffic, has a high ROI, builds your brand, and keeps your business top-of mind to your audience. It’s important, but it can also seem overwhelming to start.

If you aren’t sure where to start with email marketing, these six steps will help.

1. Build your list. Smart businesses have email lists. That is why every time you make a purchase or visit a website, you are asked for your email address. Your email list is one of the only things you actually own, so make it a priority.

Your list allows you to directly communicate with your customers, prospects and referral sources quickly and easily. To start building your list, make sure it’s easy for your audience to sign up to receive updates.

  • Place newsletter sign-up forms in prominent places on your website

  • Add call to action (CTA) links on your social media feeds, your email signature, and anywhere else your audience visits.

  • Set up your email sign-up tab on Facebook

Most importantly, give your audience a REASON to subscribe. Keep these questions in mind: Why should they subscribe? How does it benefit them? What value will they receive by subscribing? It may include things like:

  • Education, like how-to guides or recent blog posts

  • New services

  • Breaking news that will affect them

  • Upcoming events they would be interested in

  • Case studies or testimonials

  • Behind the scenes, life at your company, or job postings

2. Choose your provider. If you search for email marketing services, you will find a lot of possibilities. While it may be tempting to choose the cheapest option, some of the cheapest or free services do not offer the capabilities of true email marketing.

There are several different platforms to choose from, including Constant Contact, MailChimp, HubSpot and Benchmark One (formerly Hatchbuck). Each one has slightly different costs and features, so make sure you research to determine the best one for your needs.

No matter what platform you choose, make sure it has these qualities:

  • The ability to create highly engaging email newsletters with an easy user interface.

  • Automation—the ability to personalize bulk emails without a lot of work.

  • The option to easily manage your contact list.

  • The ability to segment users.

  • Performance tracking capabilities.

  • Capacity to keep emails out of your subscribers’ spam folders. – This is very important!

3. Set up a template. Once you have determined your email marketing provider, you should be able to use the service to set up a template for your emails and newsletters. Choose something simple, eye-catching, and on brand. You don’t need to be a designer to follow some simple design principles to make sure your email communications are consistent with your brand guidelines. It may be time consuming at first but taking the extra step to set up a template will save you time and energy in the long run. The template will also help your emails achieve a professional, consistent, recognizable look making it easier for your audience to recognize your brand.

4. Create great content. If your content provides your audience with value, they will be more likely to read and subscribe to your emails. Creating great content requires work, but there are a few things that can help. Start with a plan, know your audience and what they value, differentiate your business from the competition, communicate regularly, connect with your audience in a personal way, send information directly to your contacts, provide useful resources, incentives, and updates, and write with the audience in mind.

5. Segment your list. Once you have all that great content, you want it to go to the right people. Segmenting your email list will allow you to send even more personalized and relevant email campaigns. Your email marketing provider should allow subscribers to choose specific categories or types of emails they would like to receive, and you can divide your list into different categories. A segmented list will also allow you to send messages at the best times for different subscribers.

6. Review and repeat. The review process starts before you hit “send” and continues throughout your email campaigns. Proofread for content, clarity, and design before sending an email. Test different subject lines to see which ones are opened more regularly. Review analytics to see which emails are performing well. Pay attention to open rates, click-through rates, unsubscribe rates and more. You can also view reports about which information was the most interesting to readers so you can continue to evaluate your campaigns and adjust as needed. This will make your overall email marketing strategy more effective over time.

These steps can get you started with email marketing. If you give them a try, we would like to hear about it. If you feel overwhelmed and have questions or need assistance, we are here to help. The team at The Social Bullpen can create a custom plan for email marketing and all your marketing needs.