Marketing is a practice in which there are many different kinds of participants. There are companies of all sizes looking to promote the products or services they sell, there are organizations of all stripes spreading the word about what they do and raising funds where they can, and there are solo individuals engaged in entrepreneurship, as well. Each of these kinds of participants have got to find the right way to reach out and engage their audiences so that they can meet their goals, but each will approach things differently, even when they fit within the same category and have similar offers to make in the market. This is because what really matters is choosing the marketing methods that make sense for those doing the marketing as well as for the audience in question.
There are many different strategies for marketing available today, but one of the more popular varieties is email marketing, a practice which businesses spend billions of dollars on around the world. Today, we want to take a closer look at email marketing strategy and see not just what it is, but how it is done, the ethics which must guide it in order for it to be lawful, what the benefits it offers are and even how you can get started doing it for whatever you need to market. Once we’re through, you will have a great understanding of this practice and all that it can do.
The Definition of Email Marketing & Its History
Email is such a ubiquitous technology that few people today do not know what it is and understand the basics of how it works. Most of the world’s population now has at least one email address, although statistics reporting how often they check their inbox will vary depending upon who’s doing the reporting. It is safe to say, however, that several hundred million people around the planet now have at least one email address they use on a regular basis.
Clearly, email is a great way to reach out to customers and potential customers alike. The term email marketing is simply bulk email that is sent to these customers or potential customers containing some form of a commercial message. It is a strategy used to make sales, build brand awareness and more, very similar to the way that marketers once relied on postal mail. Email, however, is a great deal cheaper, it is instantaneous and for many customers it is more convenient since they do not have any physical paper they will need to throw away. In that sense, it is said to be a more ecologically friendly choice than traditional mailings which a large percentage of people have a tendency to throw away.
History of email makreting
1991 is stated by the history books as the dawn of the web and while email was used very early on, it was primarily available to those who had accounts through a university or who used email at work provided by the company they were employed by. Internet Service Providers (called ISP’s) arose in the years following 1991 and made the web available to more and more subscribers, usually providing free email accounts to those with software. By 1996, the world would see web accessible email services which were free and could be used with a basic browser.
This is when email, and naturally email marketing, began to really take off. Since that time, the practice of email marketing has grown and evolved to fit the needs of marketers and their audiences until today it is a respected method of marketing used by many companies, organizations and solo entrepreneurs.
What is Needed to Do Email Marketing?
The very first thing that is needed in order to do proper email marketing is a list of email addresses. We will cover why later, but for now remember that it is not a smart idea to mail random people with marketing messages no matter what motive the marketer happens to have. So, first you need to have a list either of customers of your own or from a legally obtained list of email addresses that are open to receiving marketing messages. If you have not got a list of either kind, then you will need to find a way to build a list. This is the most important part of the email marketing process and it should be covered as early as possible in your efforts.
The next step is to find a way to do your bulk mailings. Usually, this will be done using either special software or by signing up for a service such as Aweber or Constant Contact which will handle the mailings on your behalf. These days, those who are just starting out should seriously consider the wisdom of using a service rather than trying to do bulk mailing on their own. Consumers and their email providers often try to filter email marketing messages into spam folders and this could wind up causing your list to be ineffective. A good service does what it can to stay ‘white listed’ which means that emails it sends on your behalf are not automatically flagged as spam and never seen by your list members.
Create your emails
Beyond these two critical aspects of email marketing, you are going to need to have someone who can create your emails if you are not doing it yourself. This involves writing good copy and also, in many cases, some graphic design. You want those emails to look good to your list members so that they will not just read them, but actually decide to buy from you when you send an offer.
Finally, you will want to keep in mind that email marketing is a process that has to change and evolve over time. Just as people will sign up for your emails, they will also unsubscribe or simply stop paying attention. This happens to all marketers and the only real way to combat a shrinking list is to have a plan for bringing in new subscribers at a consistent rate. This is how you build longevity into your email marketing efforts and you must not overlook this part of the process.
The Importance of Ethics for Email Marketers
While ethics are certainly important in all areas of business, marketing included, when it comes to email marketing you need to be especially sensitive. The European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States have all enacted legislation designed to protect consumers from abusive and predatory marketers as well as criminals who use messages sent under the guise of email marketing to commit crimes. No matter what country you live in, you need to check the laws that govern email marketing to ensure that you do not accidentally violate them.
Aside from the fact that spamming can cost over $15,000 per spam email just in the US today, it is not smart to send unsolicited emails. For one thing, many people see this as an invasion of their privacy, along the lines of the much loathed junk mail they most likely get on a regular basis, and it will turn them off to whatever you have to say. This is no way to build strong relationships with potential customers and it must be avoided at all cost if you want email marketing to be an activity from which you profit.
Email marketing list
You will want to make it very easy for people to ‘opt in’ (subscribe) to your email marketing list and you should take care to make it equally easy to unsubscribe. Angry people do not make for good customers and irritating your audience is simply not the way to go. If they want to be free of your emails, let them be. This will pay off in the end and once your list is large enough you will notice that even some of those who unsubscribe later come back.
Lastly, do what you can to make your email marketing something your audience enjoys. Think of them first in all you do, providing them with value whether via information or even by making some of your emails entertaining.
Avoid bombarding people by sending too many emails and listen to the feedback people take the time to give you.
Often, a single complaining person represents many more who have the same complaint but did not voice it. If you focus on your audience and giving them what makes them happy, email marketing can be a very successful venture for you.
How Companies Can Embrace and Profit From Email Marketing
There are so many advantages available to companies that practice email marketing that it is not at all surprising that so many do today. Phone calls can seem invasive to consumers and they may resist, plus telemarketing is expensive. Traditional mail is not cheap either and can also cause outrage.
With email marketing, consumers have the chance to opt in on their own and literally ask to be emailed by you, plus this method costs much less. They can view your marketing messages privately whenever they want to and you can customize the message to them. This is a powerful set of advantages to have working in your favor and it helps consumers feel like they are in control because they can unsubscribe any time they like.
Companies and email marketing strategies
While many companies can and do succeed with a newsletter designed to inform, entertain and update their subscribers on what they have to offer, this is not the only way that email marketing can be done. Often, when interacting with customers via email, one can slip in a subtle ad that can help encourage business.
In reality, all emails a company sends can be effective email marketing if done right because they are helping to improve the image of the brand as consumers perceive it. It is smart to keep this in mind and remember that ads do not need to be overpowering in order to be effective. By simply mentioning a new product or service at the bottom of regular communications, more customers can be brought in.
Of course, more extensive forms of email marketing can provide excellent results because they go further to provide a better value for the consumer. When you meet their needs for information about the niche your business is in, you are providing value. When you use humor or other entertaining approaches to presenting information you are further engaging your audience with another form of value.
Loyal custtomers and email communication
Your most loyal customers are likely to appreciate the fact that your email communications keep them abreast of what your company is doing. These people are the ones who spread the word when you do something they like and nurturing them is essential to your email marketing success. Be sure to target this core base and deliver what they want on a consistent basis.
Can Email Marketing Be Profitable for a Solo Entrepreneur?
This is a question many people want to know the answer to because the idea of building and maintaining a list of customers you communicate with via email is a lot less intimidating to many than other forms of marketing are. Yes, there are entrepreneurs who have succeeded in email marketing, some of them without even having their own products or services to sell. This is such a low-cost form of marketing that it is very easy to get involved with because even the services you need for bulk mailing are typically not very expensive.
The thing to keep in mind is that you will need a solid list before you can begin. This is often what trips people up, but if you can build that list then you will definitely be in a good position to do email marketing. You need to be focused on a niche where there is room for growth and you should definitely do what you can to create the right kind of value for those who do subscribe to your list. It can take a while to succeed with email marketing, but those entrepreneurs who continually educate themselves, stick through the tough times and work to give their subscribers the very best experience they can will be the ones who succeed.
Are There Benefits to Email Marketing vs Running a Blog?
This is something that a lot of marketers will wonder about due to the fact that blogs are now so popular. While blogs are certainly a very strong way to do marketing, email marketing does offer some advantages well worth keeping in mind. You should also keep in mind that there is nothing stopping you from using email marketing along with a blog, in fact that is what you should be doing, essentially using the blog to drive subscriptions to your list. That said, consider the time, energy and financial resources you have for developing that much content if you do decide to do both at the same time.
Advantage of email marketing
One advantage email marketing has over blogs is that it can reach customers instead of relying on them to return. Not everyone knows how to use an RSS feed and some consumers may not wish to learn yet they understand perfectly how to use email. Some blogs do deliver their posts via email, too, so this is another option worth considering.
The advantage of having your marketing message delivered to customers in their email inbox ties in closely to the fact that they would have voluntarily signed up for this service so they are therefore more likely to want what you send them.
Blogs require expences
Blogs can and do require expenses to set up and maintain which is a drawback for them. They should also have Search Engine Optimization (SEO) performed on them so that they get organic traffic from search engines if you want to use them to their fullest potential. This is not something all of those engaged in marketing are prepared to handle so that’s why it could be a drawback. However, at the same time, building and maintaining your list will also require that you do some advertising to promote it which is rarely going to be free.
One key point for some doing email marketing that makes them decide against running a blog, or also having a blog, is that blogs usually contain comments section. This is more or less something visitors expect when they land on a blog and even though comments can be turned off, they rarely are.
Comments can lead to problems due to trolling and also the fact that people may say something negative which then requires you to either delete the negative comment or respond to it. In addition, promotional messages from those doing marketing via blog comments can be something else you have to deal with. The fact is, email marketing is simpler and this appeals to many over a blog.
Good Copywriting is Essential to Selling with Email Marketing
Compelling consumers to buy using the written word is not something everyone is good at, but it is a must if you are doing email marketing. Those that intend to make sales with their email lists need quality copy in order to do and that is an art form that can take quite a while to learn. There are many instances where hiring a pro might be the easier path. However, depending on the niche, you may get buy with simply purchasing PLR for your autoresponders messages.
It should be noted that not all email marketing professionals rely heavily on sales copy, some are more conversational with their subscribers, but this is going to depend on your niche and the type of brand you are promoting. At any rate, in the very least you are going to need clear and effective written communication for each and every bulk email you send out. Take the time to try to make sure the writing you use is the best it can be because this will have a very sharp impact on how effective your email marketing ends up being.
Sometimes Content for Your Email Marketing Should Be Outsourced
As mentioned, not all of us are expert writers and this is something that plenty of entrepreneurs have had to come to terms with. Often, businesses may find that they, too, need to outsource help writing effective content for their emails and the same holds true for organizations. This is not a bad thing, although it does cost money, it is simply a reality for the majority of those doing email marketing. Hiring a professional has many advantages.
For one thing, entrepreneurs and others doing email marketing should be focusing on what they do best at, not trying to do something which takes time and energy away from their core skill, knowledge and experience set. Trying to do what should be outsourced usually results not only in poor results that can undermine your email marketing efforts, it can reduce productivity and even profits as you invest too much time into writing content and not enough time into the areas of your enterprise where you excel. This is why people outsource and it is a very smart idea to consider its value when assessing the need for outsourcing in your own operations.
Written content is not all that you can outsource, either. Many email marketing pros will want to make sure they are including enticing images with their messages. If you do not already have a stockpile of relevant and high quality images then consider turning to a stock photo provider. This can really give your emails added visual impact and draw people into them if you do it right. Most images are very inexpensive and you can use them as many times as needed if you choose the right license. This is a good way to add visual elements to your bulk emails without having to hire a professional photographer to do the work for you.
Consider List Building and How It Benefits Email Marketing
We know that having a list is the most important part of email marketing, but how do you get this list built? That is something that each marketer has to answer for his or herself, but the there are some standard methods used for creating email lists and gaining new subscribers. In the end, it is about advertising yet there are a number of advertising avenues to consider.
Subscribers can be invited to subscribe to your list through an existing site you own. In this case, you will want that place for them to enter their email to be prominent. If your site already gets a significant amount of traffic then this can be a good way to go. You will want to make sure people understand why they should sign up for your list because you may need to convince them by getting them interested in what they will receive.
Sites that include sign up areas should use SEO as a way to help bring in additional traffic for more signups. Content marketing, in addition, can help build your site’s traffic flow and even the number of signups to your list if done right.
Squeeze pages for email marketing strategy
Squeeze pages are another method that people will use in order to get sign ups. These are generally simple pages that they send traffic to rather than sending that traffic to a full-fledged site or blog. Squeeze pages take less time and often less money to develop so they can be ideal, but in order to be effective they need powerful copy that explains why a person should sign up to receive your emails.
Once you have a squeeze page, the next step is buying either pay-per-click (PPC) ads or other forms of online advertising that invite people to sign up to your list. The reason for this is because you will not be able to get effective results trying to get organic traffic from the search engines to visit your squeeze page. A few years ago, search engines began to de-index or drop the ranking of these pages because they are not perceived as providing value to the searcher.
Coaching or Taking Email Marketing Training Could Be Invaluable
Many who try to do email marketing will not find good results right away. Some will give up in frustration and others will seek out education to help them master this form of marketing. Whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur, someone trying to make email marketing work for your organization or employed by a company that you believe would benefit from email marketing, it is important to seek out proper education. Methods discussed online may date back several years and not be of much use to you today. There is a better way to educate yourself.
For one thing, seeking out training is a smart way to go because courses could help you learn techniques and strategies which are effective as long as those courses are relatively recent. Be sure you investigate the producer of the courses, too, to be sure they are a legitimate source of information whose practices you want to end up following. Remember, too, that you should try to learn from those who have real world experience and no one else. You need to know what works and what works now, not what worked a 5 or 10 years ago.
Coaching programs can do wonders, as well, and some courses will include this feature. This gives you one on one time with a professional that will be able to help you get the most from your email marketing. Again, evaluating their credentials or reputation as best you can first is key to succeeding at finding the right coach, but if you put in the time to do that then you should be fine. Sometimes, the one on one approach – or even learning in an online classroom setting from an inspiring coach via webinar – can light us up and get us started in the right direction.
Strategy First When Getting Involved in Email Marketing
No matter how you plan to approach email marketing, once you begin doing it remember that you should always plan ahead by several weeks at the very least. You need to know the content of your emails that will be going out so you can plan your promotions in order to get more subscribers.
People do like being subscribed to a useful source of emails that meet their needs or entertain them in some way, so put a lot into the quality of what you are giving with each bulk email. If it is savings, make the savings better than they can find elsewhere. If it’s information, make it about something really special and write it beautifully. Take the extra step and deliver more than people expect you to.
When writing for email marketing, you need for your brand to have ‘a voice’. In other words, you want your emails to look and feel familiar for those who read them. This can take time to develop and if you are starting out, it is a smart idea to simply try to focus on delivering that. When it gets down to it, you want each email your subscribers get from you to be logical because it sounds as if it’s from you, but you also want it to be better than the last email.
People get bored easily so spice things up and try to include a more ‘human’ element when you can by bringing yourself or those working with you into the picture. Make your brand and your messages relatable to your audience.
Consistency in email marketing
Consistency is important, too. Don’t send too many emails because overflowing your subscriber’s inbox is not a way to win them over. Too few can mean you are missing opportunities to engage them and keep your brand fresh in their minds, as well as your marketing messages. Scheduling will give you good results and you will come to see when the best times of the week and best times of the year are to reach out with email marketing to those within your chosen niche.
Metrics matter so be sure you are tracking the results of who is clicking and buying because of your emails. You need to be able to gauge each emails effectiveness and see how you are doing. What you learn can help you fine tune and become even better at email marketing.