Email is one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways of generating more revenue for your business. Unlike traditional direct mail (post) or above-the-line advertising, email is quick to produce and delivers results within seconds. By delivering well-timed, engaging emails, you can reinforce customer loyalty and drive sales.
I have provided email marketing advice to a large number of UK companies that has resulted in emails landing in more inboxes, more opens, more clicks and more revenue. Let me teach you how to grow your list and build closer relationships with your customers.
Whilst email a great way to grow your sales it also enables you to gather more information about your customers and to builder a better picture of them. This intelligence will then enhance your customer loyalty and help your long-term growth.
However, in order to do this you must make sure you have a good email strategy and an engaging design to ensure your emails land in your customer’s inboxes. There is no point going to the effort of creating emails if they are not going to reach your customer or if they are going to be ignore. You also don’t want them to be blocked by spam filters. Below are some steps to help you get started and some tips on best practice.
First Step: Collect email addresses
You obviously can’t communicate to anyone via email unless you have their email address. If you are an existing online business you probably have a list of customer email addresses from previous orders, website or store sign-ups and maybe competition entries. You now need to use this data to begin a dialogue with these people and to start to build a relationship with them.
If you don’t have any data then you need to start collecting it. By running promotions and competitions on your website and across social media, you will be able to start building your email marketing list. When you collect someone’s email address be sure to ask their permission before you start sending them emails. You should only work on an permission-based, opt-in policy to ensure your recipients are happy and going to be reactive to your communications. Opt-in marketing gives you the best chance of success and maximises your spend.
What do I need to start sending emails?
We all send emails day in, day out and we know what emails we open and what emails we ignore. Communicating via email to customers is about understand what they want to see from you rather ramming sales messages down their throat or by sending irrelevant content.
Any type of online business should be communicating with their customers. If you never contact them, how are you supposed to get any repeat business? Just because someone has bought a product from you in the past it doesn’t mean that you should never speak to them again. Once they have purchased it is the time to look after and nurture them.
To get started, you need to find an email program that is user-friendly and low cost. I always suggest Mail Chimp to my clients as a start platform because it’s dead-easy to use and the deliverability level is excellent. The advantage of a program like Mail Chimp is that it has built-in design templates so you don’t have to be a coding geek or a wacky designer to use it. You simply upload images into the templates where you want them to appear.
Right, I have my email platform now what?
Using email for Revenue Generation
Once you have a dialogue in progress with your email database you can begin to refine your messaging and identify your most valuable customers, devise ways of converting your prospects into customers and reactivate lapse customers. You can use a mixture of useful information, special offers, promotional codes, bundled products and other creative techniques to drive more revenue from your customers. Email is a powerful tool and can produce a regular income stream for your business with very little effort or investment.
Using email for Customer Intelligence
Email is a fantastic way of gaining more intelligence about you customers because it enables you to communicate more with them and learn more about them. Through offering incentives to give you additional information about their likes and dislikes you can begin to really understand what makes them tick and why drives them to purchase.
Once you have this intelligence you can then send more targeted email communications that will be more relevant, more engaging and ultimately result in more sales. People generally react better to be seen as an actual person rather than just a customer or a number on a list. Take the time to really tailor your messaging and offers to the needs of your customer. If it’s not relevant then don’t send it.
Using email for Customer Retention
Once you have acquired you customer you want to keep them. Email is a great way to do this because it gives you an easy and affordable way of maintaining regular communication with them. If you segment your customers into groups you can target different offers to specific customers based on their behaviour on your site and their personal characteristics. This usually returns a higher conversion rate because people react better when offers are tailored to their interests.
What’s more, email can also be used to inform your customers about delivery schedules, returns policies and procedures once they have made a purchase or registered for your newsletter. Reflex emails can be set up so they are automatically generated when a customer performs a particular action. This could be based on sign-up, a purchase, account login or even birthday. Used intelligently, you could significantly improve your retention rate and revenue.
Using email to build your Customer Database
If you have an email list of people who are happy to receive your communications then take the opportunity to tell your story, promote your brand and to build a relationship with them. If they like what you are saying then they will pass it on to their friends and spread the word.
Viral marketing is what has made Facebook the worldwide phenomenon it is today. Recommendations and word-of-mouth advertising is perhaps the most trusted form of marketing because positive opinions are often few and far between. People are more inclined to complain about something their dislike or are unhappy about rather than positive promote something they like to their friends. However, this is not to say that you cannot communicate the positives of your business because once these people are engaged and form a positive opinion of your brand, you can then start the process again to their friends.
Good Email Design Format
If you are going to send emails to your customers you must make them engaging, informative and they must also relevant. Any email that lands in my inbox that doesn’t deliver these three attributes is immediately deleted. If the email is really bad I will unsubscribe from receiving any email communications in future or actually reply bad to tell them why I thought their email didn’t engage me.
Before you get to this stage, however, you need to have made sure that your email has reached recipient inboxes and has been seen and opened. Many email service providers such as Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo have very stringent spam filters to prevent unwanted mail so you need to design and build your emails using ‘approved email guidelines’ that guarantee delivery.
Punchy and engaging subject line
Once landed, you also need to ensure your subject lines are punchy and engaging so your recipient proceeds to open it. If you subject lines are weak, nondescript or too sales focused, it is unlikely people will open your emails.
Writing email subject lines that encourage clicks is quite an art. This is why you should test various subjects before you send to your entire list. Most email software and broadcast platforms have the functionality to test different subject lines and different email content with a small portion of your list. The beauty of this is that you can then send the most effective emails to the larger part of your list.
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