Email Marketing – you’ve heard about it, and now you want to try it out for yourself, to see what all the fuss is about. That’s fair. Email marketing has gotten a lot of press lately and for good reason. It’s effective.

If you’re interested in email marketing, you also know the benefits of tracking your leads and attributing them to email marketing campaigns. It’s intriguing, and now you’d like to know more about how to implement an email marketing campaign – an effective email marketing campaign. Great idea!

Here are some starter tips to get you going:

Get Permission

The first question to ask yourself is, “Who will I email?”

Answer: It’s time to build an email list.

In 2016, you must have permission to email someone. Email is considered sacred to most of us, and unsolicited emails are quickly deleted. It’s called permission marketing.

There are two ways to grow your permission marketing email list. The first takes time but yields more positive results long-term. The second delivers faster results in the short-term but is less effective for growing leads.

The first, and recommended, way to build an email list is the slow growth method. The first strategy grows an email list over time. Emails on this list are sent to only those who ask to receive them (hence the title, “permission marketing”).

To grow an email list this way, you can use forms on your website (i.e. “Sign up for our newsletter” or “Download this eBook”).

Supplement your list with offline contacts, too. It may take quite a while to accumulate a significant list, but all the contacts will have given you permission to market to them. Those contacts are much more likely to become sales leads in the future.

The second way to grow your email list is quicker but not recommended: buy lists of people that meet your target market.

These lists aren’t generally very accurate, but they will give you a large number of contacts to start with. You can use these contacts to gain traction and test email content on (but more about that later).

Segment Your Lists

You have an email list, now it’s time to segment it.

Why?

So that you can target their specific needs and answer their questions (which makes them more likely to like you and trust you and, eventually, try what you offer).

It’s obvious that your contact list consists of a variety of people. And those people are on your list for a specific reason (hopefully because they want what you offer, since you grew the list using permission marketing). But not everyone has the same reason or responds to the same type of messaging.

Research your target audience so that you can define specific personas to market to. It’ll make your marketing efforts much more effective.

In this case, size does not matter. It doesn’t matter if you have 20 people or 20,000; it’s never too early to start segmenting them into unique categories.

People are unique, and they want only the most relevant and interesting content in their inboxes. Thanks to email automation software, we can target our customers quickly and easily.

Content is, and Always Will Be, King

This line may be beaten dead by now in marketing, but it still applies here. When you email your contact list, be sure the content is enticing, relevant, and (oft over-looked) grammatically correct. Why? It matters. People care. And it’s much more friendly to your bottom line.

Using your segmented list, create email content that speaks to each segment distinctly. This will engage the reader in a way that generic content never can – by making it personal. Once you do that, you create a relationship. The reader develops a picture and feeling in her head about your brand. And she’s that much closer to being a more qualified lead.

Keep It Simple

Make it easy on yourself and your readers: keep it simple! Simplicity is the road to conversion. Seriously. Simple, readable emails are much more likely to result in the desired action.

And guess what? It’s competitive out there.

In 2015 the average number of emails received by a person every day is 84.1

This means you’re in company with a lot of other people trying to reach those eyes. When emails are simple and easy to read, people are more likely to read and understand them. When the desired action is obvious to the reader (i.e. “View Photos”; “Learn More”), it’s more likely to be taken.

Use Unique Subject Lines (and Emojis ????)

We’ve all gotten the emails, “One Day Only” or “Blowout Sale.” What happens to them? Straight into the trash can.

Why? Because they are generic, indistinct, and obviously meant to sell something.

Set yourself apart – use unique subject lines to catch the attention of the email receiver and get them to take the first step, opening the email. Once they’ve done that, the targeted content you created will draw them in to learn more.

A recent study showed that email subject lines that use an emojis were 45% more likely to get opened then emails with the same subject without one.2

You can find them a multitude of ways but one of the easiest places we’ve found to get a large list of emojis is http://twitter.github.io/twemoji/preview.

Keep Your Brand Consistent

Before you begin a campaign, create an email template based on your brand image. Keep colors, fonts, logos, and imagery consistent to your brand. Don’t send one email with a background of blue if your color scheme is orange and black (just an example of a really good color combo).

Your brand should be at the forefront of your email marketing strategy and remain consistent through your campaigns. A consistent brand increases its value. Plus it inspires trust and is easily recognizable, all things that support your marketing efforts.

A/B Test Your Email

This may be one of the most important parts of any email or marketing campaign: the A/B test.

Refine your work to increase the effectiveness of your email marketing campaign by comparing two versions – version A and version B. In this way, you can discover which elements of your email (i.e. an image vs. no image; a red button vs. a blue button) is more likely to result in a conversion.

Test your subject lines, the content of the email, its length, and how often it’s sent. This helps you to stay out of the spam box and in the minds of your readers.

An additional suggestion is that, like any scientific method, only change one variable at a time. This will give you a better indication of what truly affected the outcome.

(Use the paid list I mentioned in the beginning to test variables.)

Choose the Right Tools

To run a truly effective email marketing campaign, you need to have some tools to design, send, and track your emails.

There are two different options to go with, and three good companies within those options to choose from.

Your options are: 1) an email sending service or 2) a marketing automation tool.

Which way you go depends a lot on your business and your goals.

Top 3 Email Sending Services

Constant Contact – Constant Contact has a broad range of features and prices for small to medium sized businesses. Depending on how many people are in your list, you can expect to pay from $20 a month to $110 a month for a non-contract subscription.3

One item that was especially interesting is that Constant Contact has award-winning support, which, for someone new to email marketing, may be very helpful.

MailChimp – MailChimp is very similar in the product features compared to Constant Contact. The user is offered a number of templates and personalization options.

A bonus for companies that sell in multiple time zones: MailChimp allows you to schedule email blasts in different time zones to arrive at the specific time you need.

The pricing is a little different than Constant Contact. Depending on the number of contacts in your list, you can expect to pay as little as nothing for up to 12,000 emails a month. If you send more than 12,000 emails, due to a larger list size, you can choose a subscription option that starts at $15 a month or prepaid that begins at $30 a month.4

Vertical Response – There weren’t many features that separated Vertical Response from Constant Contact or MailChimp, and they, too, boasted award-winning support.

When we reached out to Vertical Response and asked about the difference between it and its competitors, we were unable to reach anyone (all support specialists were busy and requested we send an email message.)

Cost-wise, depending on the number of emails you send, you can expect to pay between $11 a month and $120 a month.5

Top 3 Marketing Automation Tools

HubSpot – HubSpot, like other marketing automation tools, goes well beyond email marketing, but email marketing is a component of its software.

As with other marketing automation tools, it offers ways to help marketers track ROI on marketing campaigns.

HubSpot’s pricing starts at around $2,400 a year and most small to medium companies would fit into the $9,600 per year cost. 6

Marketo – For medium-sized businesses with a larger user base, Marketo is a platform to look into. The price reflects this, with annual costs starting at just under $17,000. If you’re a medium-sized business (60 + employees) with a large customer base, but are just starting a digital marketing campaign, take a look at Marketo.7

SharpSpring – SharpSpring is one of the newest entries into the marketing automation world. Also built for medium-sized businesses, SharpSpring has all the core features you’d find in HubSpot or Marketo, but they’re also extremely competitively priced. They have one price at $6,000 a year for 5 licenses.

In full disclosure, this is the marketing automation tool that Artonic uses for our marketing as well as our clients.

How to Use Email Marketing

No matter how you execute your email marketing strategy – whether it’s using an email service or a marketing automation tool – it’s important to look at why you’re doing it.

Email marketing is a cost effective way to reach your potential and existing customers on a regular basis. But email marketing should be about informing your contacts instead of selling to them.

Your contacts want to learn why they need something as much as they need to know about who to buy it from. Use email marketing as a way to distribute your knowledge and teach customers about who you are and why being your customer is a benefit to them.

Have any questions or thoughts on which tools are the best? Let us know!

  1. http://www.radicati.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Email-Statistics-Report-2011-2015-Executive-Summary.pdf
  2. https://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/email-marketing/2015/10/the-real-scoop-on-email-emoji-in-subject-lines/
  3. http://www.constantcontact.com/pricing
  4. http://mailchimp.com/pricing
  5. http://www.verticalresponse.com/pricing-plans
  6. http://www.hubspot.com/pricing/marketing#?currency=USD
  7. http://www.marketo.com/software/consumer/pricing/

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