On average, the office staff of businesses receives over 121 emails every day. Is your small business using this to your advantage? Email marketing is an essential element in today’s business world. It has replaced the circulars and flyers that used to fill the mailbox.

If you haven’t added email marketing to your marketing strategy, you need to take a fresh look at it. The process doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. In fact, with these five simple steps, you can get your email marketing up and running. Let’s get started.

Select an Email Service Provider

You need the right tools to handle all the details of your email campaigns. Up to this point, you may have managed your email list on a spreadsheet. However, when you start implementing email marketing in earnest, it’s recommended that you use a specialty provider instead of trying to do things internally.

An email service provider offers you all the tools you need to get started and be successful. They provide easy-to-use templates so your emails are well-structured and not likely to be caught in spam filters. Many of these services start out with no fees. As your lists grow and your needs expand, fees will apply, but they start low and only scale up when the number of email subscribers reaches a higher level.

Here’s a shortlist of some of the more popular and user-friendly email marketing services you can try.

AWeber – works quite well with many eCommerce and blog sites. They offer a 30-day free trial and then plan to start at $19 per month.

Constant Contact – Well known for their easy-to-use templates, shareable formats, and insightful analytics, this company offers a two-month free trial, then plans start at $20 per month.

MailChimp – Made for small businesses, MailChimp offers plenty of automation, advanced analytics, and user-friendly templates. It’s free while your email list is under 2000 subscribers.

Take time to find the service provider that best fits your needs now and in the future. While you can switch between providers as your needs change, it takes time and will disrupt your email marketing efforts.

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Build Your Email List

Once you have a provider, the next step is to start building your email list. If you have a list of contacts in a spreadsheet, you should be able to upload them into your new email marketing tool. If you have email addresses written on forms or invoices, you need to do some data entry. Find any email addresses you have and get them into the provider’s list. This is the start of your ever-expanding email list.

With your current emails in the database, the next step is to grow the list. You can go about this in many ways. How you approach it will be influenced by your business and the products or services you offer. Here are a few ways you might get started:

  • Add a subscriber text box to your website. You can offer an incentive such as an ebook or white paper as an incentive.
  • Ask current customers, friends, employees, family members, and vendors to sign up through the subscriber link on your website.
  • Offer a special promotion to your customers and require a valid email to receive it.
  • Include a CTA button on your social media pages and posts.
  • Add a QR code on flyers and circulars to encourage email sign up

Every email you collect is extremely valuable to your business. Always ask for the email address owner’s permission for using it. Without their permission, you could lose your ability to send emails through your provider due to sending out spam.

Develop Your Company’s Email Marketing Strategy

Before you start sending out emails, you need to know why you are sending them out. Some common reasons are to get information out, promote sales, encourage product support, and engage customers.

Clearly defining your small business’ specific objectives is critical to your email marketing success. Those objectives let you develop a strategy and move forward with confidence.

Answer these questions to help define your objectives and strategy:

What are your objectives with each campaign? You need to know how you are providing value and what actions you want subscribers to take. This will vary by campaign, email list, or list segment. The desired action can include sharing content, buying products, or consuming the content. Always be clear about the purpose of each campaign.

Who is the demographic you are targeting? Sending an email to everyone on your list may not be the most effective option in some cases. Sending it to a smaller segment that meets your demographic needs will be more effective. Subscribers can receive emails that are relevant to their interests and you can avoid sending spam to those who are not interested. This better engages subscribers and improves email open rates.

How often should you send out emails? This depends on your business type and where the customer is in the sales funnel. You may have to experiment to find the right frequency.

The type of email you send out will often determine the frequency. For example, if you put out a newsletter once a month, you can engage your entire list with relevant content. Then, throughout the month, you can target different list segments with more targeted emails that build branding and engage their specific needs.

One way to drive people away from your email list is to only send campaigns that pressure them to buy. They will unsubscribe or just delete the emails. The better option is to provide valuable content that builds the relationship and positions you as an industry leader.

Create Effective High-Quality Content

The content you send out via your marketing email must be high quality and engaging to the customer. It’s not something you should do in haste. It takes time and thought. Don’t make the mistake of using your email to blast the recipients with ads of your newest product or holiday sales offers. They will unsubscribe quite quickly.

Before sending out your first email, consider the following:

  • Always give your email campaigns a clear purpose.
  • Engage with your readers at a personal, emotional level.
  • Create valuable content, not just sales ads.

One rule of thumb is that most of the time you spend on email marketing should be on content creation. The time you spend on content creation is an investment in getting future business and building brand confidence.

Use Analytics to Measure Progress and Improve Performance

Most popular mail service providers offer analytics as part of their package. It allows you to measure how well your email campaigns are doing. Some providers let you link your Google Analytics account to get even deeper insights.

No matter how well you construct your email campaign, the ultimate judge of its success is how well your customers receive it or if they act upon it. Analytics reports help you see whether your objectives were met or if your calls to action were used. These insights will give you the ability to modify future email offerings and improve your results.

In Conclusion

Email is one of the most powerful marketing tools available in today’s digital world. It allows you to start marketing on a small level without a major capital investment. With these five steps, you are well on your way to developing and launching your first email marketing campaign.

The key to success is planning and building an effective strategy. Then, build content that engages your intended audience. Only at that point do you send out your first email marketing campaign. Measure how well that first campaign, make modifications to your next campaign, and try it all over again. That’s how you learn what works and what doesn’t.

The time you spend upfront will pay off as your email marketing grows. You will be surprised at how fast your knowledge and expertise grow. You will be an email marketing expert in no time.

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