Sedona Internet Marketing Techniques: E-mail Marketing
Did you know that E-mail Marketing can actually be MORE profitable than your web site?
Communicating with people who want to hear from you via e-mail is a standard marketing tool that all businesses should use.
You can’t expect your customers to keep going to your web site regularly to see what’s new in your business. You must go to them — with their permission.
Your customers freely give you their e-mail address. They want to be contacted if you have new products and services to offer. Newsletters, targeted e-mails and auto-responders directly contact your eager customers and gently remind them that your business is ready to serve them. Don’t let this opportunity slip away.
You are probably getting e-mail messages, auto-responders and newsletters in your inbox everyday. Are you noticing how handy and effective they are, the one’s that you signed up to receive? We are not talking about Spam, which is e-mail you don’t want and did not give permission to receive.
Why you should be using Email Marketing
- As the world economy enters a slowdown, e-mail is a cutting-edge and cost-effective means to stay in constant contact with your customers.
- Expand your marketing. With targeted e-mail marketing, you can reach new customers in a more targeted manner.
- Build a network: E-mail recipients can easily forward your message. An e-mail to one client could be sent to dozens of potential customers.
- Out of sight, out of mind. Many potential clients want to do business with you, but in hectic pace of modern life, they don’t know this yet. How often have you gotten an e-mail in your inbox and thought, “wow, I actually need this right now.” Serendipity isn’t coincidence, it’s just good timing.
- Maintain your relationships. You spend effort, time and money to develop relationships. E-mail tells your current customers that you haven’t forgotten them.
- Increase repeat traffic. E-mails remind people about your web site. They’re more likely to visit if you notify them about changes or what you have to offer.
- Promote your brand identity. E-mail keeps your company’s logo and name fresh. Your customers develop a brand memory for your company if they consistently see it.
- Generate sales. Every e-mail can include promotions, special offers and “buy now” links. Customers can go straight from their inbox to your web site, skipping over internet searches. Your customers will thank you for saving them time.
Types of Email Marketing
E-mail contact maintains strong relations with existing clients, finds new customers, and informs them of what you have to offer. E-mail is a cost-effective way to contact thousands of people with timely information they’re eager to receive.
E-mails don’t interrupt busy customers like telephone calls can. E-mails patiently wait in the inbox for your clients to read when they’re ready. You can send e-mails to hundreds of customers with just a few clicks of the mouse rather than days of making phone calls, leaving messages, and waiting for call backs.
Here is a quick description of three common types of e-mail communication.
The Simple Message
Simple e-mail messages are great customer service tools. They are quick, single-focus e-mails that efficiently share important information to your list. They can highlight:
- New products and services
- Upcoming sales and discounts
- Service updates
- Product highlights
- Tips and suggestions
- Events, Classes, Workshops
- Special or one-time offers, perhaps only available through the e-mail, not on your web site
An auto-responder is a series of communications that go out to a person who might have just signed up (or “opted-in”) on your web site or landing page. These communications are a sequence of pre-written emails that are sent out to prospects in your database at regular intervals.
For example, one potential auto-response could be:
- A potential customer completes the form on your web site. The auto-responder sends a “thank you” e-mail.
- Within 24 hours, a Welcome message is delivered that describes what your customer can expect in your communications.
- A couple days later, you send an e-mail that profiles one product or service.
- A week later an e-mail is sent with a case study and testimonial about the product or service.
- Two weeks later, you offer a special.
- A month later, you might send out an e-mail presenting another product or service that complements the first.
- At 6 weeks, you e-mail out some FAQs and request feedback.
- 2 months later, a follow-up e-mail offers a discount on a new product you’ve recently added to your inventory.
- And so on…
The immediate benefit of this procedure is that all the e-mails are automatically generated by a program we (or you) design for your web site. All these e-mails are automatically sent at pre-arranged intervals that correspond to the original subscription date.
Auto-responders have infinite variety, allowing you to tailor them to your business, customer base, your changing industry and fluctuations in local or global economies.
Newsletters do more than just inform customers about a product. They regularly update your customers about your business, industry trends and news.
Newsletters can contain a mix of information. They can be divided into small sections covering the departments of your company, each one with a link to different pages of your web site.
For example, your regular monthly newsletter could include several topics listed below:
- A personalized welcome from you.
- A summary about changes in the industry this month.
- A photo and description of a new product with links to buy.
- A timeline of a recent project your business completed, with testimonials from the customer involved.
- A summary of a new service.
- A list of ten tips for using your best-selling product.
- An employee biography.
- A book suggestion with a link to its page on your site, linked to Amazon.com.
- The first 100 words of your three most recent blog postings, with links to each one.
- Plans for future expansion.
- “Coming next month” with short, catchy headlines of next month’s newsletter.
- Contact information and links to your web site and business blog.
Consistent, informative newsletters are invaluable tools to remind customers that your business is ready and eager to serve. They also demonstrate that your business is dynamic and dedicated to keeping your customers informed.
Should you use plain text or html?
Plain text e-mails are just that – text only, with no images. These communications can be very effective and are easy to create – fast to send.
“Light” html is an e-mail that has a low ratio of images to text and uses simple text formatting. “Light” html is fast for you to create and your customers to open. It has the highest click-through rate of all types of e-mail, although, this debate is ongoing…
Newsletters might be an example of heavier html. They tend to be larger with more images, more links, more text, and complex layouts.
Test your audience — whatever works best for your customers works best for your business!
Many businesses use a mixture of styles to achieve different objectives.
Why use a third-party Email Marketing service and not your own email program?
Many small business owners develop e-mail marketing lists on their own and send e-mails straight from their own computer. This seems appealing because you’re familiar with the e-mail program and is free to start.
However, using your own e-mail has significant drawbacks for your business that third-party e-mail marketing can solve.
1) “What do you mean I’m a spammer!?”
You’re sending legitimate e-mails to customers who have requested, maybe even demanded, that they want to be contacted. However, the internet is packed with “spam” — unsolicited, junk e-mail that clogs internet traffic.
You’re doing business legally, but e-mail servers like Earthlink, Hotmail, America Online, Gmail and Yahoo! don’t know this. Their spam filter programs just see thousands of e-mails sent from one computer or one IP address. They could flag e-mails sent from your computer as spam, even though you’re not spamming.
Over time, their spam filters begin to block ALL e-mails from your computer, not just your bulk monthly newsletter or targeted e-mails.
Pretty soon, ALL your e-mails to customers with “@earthlink.net” addresses, for instance, get blocked. Even your friends and family members with “@earthlink.net” addresses can’t get e-mails from your computer either.
2) You play safe, but your neighbor is reckless
Even if you’re a safe business owner, another company may share your server’s IP address and get flagged as a spammer. That affects you, even though you did nothing wrong.
Imagine sharing a telephone in an office with people from many different companies. Suddenly, one person makes thousands of prank phone calls. People complain and the phone company disconnects the telephone number. Now you have a dozen clients you can’t reach for legitimate business.
Third-party e-mail marketing services don’t have any of these problems.
3) “Dear No-Name,”
Free e-mail programs can’t quickly personalize messages by automatically inserting the recipient’s first name in the message.
A third-party e-mail marketing service uses software that lets you write, send and personalize messages quickly and easily.
4) Tracking the results
Third party e-mail marketing systems can track an amazing amount of information, such as:
- Who opens your e-mail
- How many times your message is opened
- What links were followed
- How many times your e-mail was forwarded
- Who unsubscribes
- And much more
This is critical information that you can act upon immediately in your business to get results!
5) Change of address
If you’re handling all your lists on your own computer, you can’t automatically update your list when a new user signs up or an existing user updates his or her email address or wants to unsubscribe.
Third party e-mail marketing systems make it easy for your customers to manage their subscription themselves. They can easily update their information, modify their e-mail preferences, or unsubscribe anytime.
Third party e-mail marketing systems also automatically verify e-mail addresses and remove old or defunct ones from your list without you having to lift a finger.
6) “The Feds are here ”
Bulk e-mail consistently sent from your computer may break federal law.
The CAN-SPAM Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003) contains provisions related to subscribing and unsubscribing customers within 10 days of a request. If you’re busy, lose an e-mail, or forget to remove an address you may risk a fine. Other state and local laws may also apply.
Third-party e-mail marketing services are legal ways to contact customers and send bulk e-mail. They must obey the law to stay in business and protect customers like you.
Third-Party E-mail Marketing is a powerful, inexpensive, time-saving tool for your business!
Ways to use your new Email Marketing tool: Define your purpose…
You can use your e-mail marketing sysytem for multiple purposes, whatever you need to talk to your customers.
Communicate information. Perhaps you’re moving from a home office to a store front and you want your customers to know the new address. E-mail is a quick, easy notification tool.
Educate. You may have read a great blog entry recently about how your industry will drastically change in the next six months. By sending this important information directly to your customers, you become a resource, not just a supplier.
News, events. Your business may open a new office and you plan a meet-and-greet. You may have a charity fundraiser to fight cancer, donate toys for the holidays, benefit a nonprofit organization or help a political candidate. E-mail can send the details, maybe even a map of the location, straight to your customers.
New products, sales, promotions. You can easily inform your entire customer base about a sale, new products or special promotions instantly; you don’t have to hope that they see a print ad in a newspaper or magazine, a billboard or a flyer. You may be overstocked with a product that will soon be discontinued. You can use e-mail to offer a special discount for those customers who act quickly. You can use e-mail to track who responds to what type of e-mail marketing efforts you implement.
New services. You can use e-mail to test new online services. By e-mailing your 100 best customers, you’re likely to get lots of responses and feedback about a new real-world service your company plans to offer to your entire customer base. You can also use e-mail to send to potential customers on the fence.
Employee or client profiles. Maybe you’ve hired a new employee or promoted someone from sales to customer relations. Possibly you want to bring some business to a client partner. Perhaps one of your customers was so thankful for your company’s help that they wrote you a stellar testimonial. You can send all of this to your customers in a newsletter to illustrate what your business is capable of providing.
Drive traffic to landing pages. If your website is moving a little slow, you can bring your customers back to your website with an e-mail. A bulk e-mail at just the right time can bring traffic to a specific page on a website, such as a blog, new product page, or a sales letter page. Your targeted e-mail can stimulate interest while the landing page seals the deal and makes the sale.
Inspirations, case studies, testimonials. If your business is one that depends on customer reviews, word-of-mouth, or testimonials, bulk e-mail can convey this information quickly and directly. An e-mail can describe a new service and your five best customer reviews. If you have a product new on the market that your customers are uncertain of, a list of case studies from an industry source can be condensed into an easy-to-read e-mail and boost confidence.
The possibilities for e-mail marketing are endless.