Email marketing. It’s a good idea and many people are using it successfully. Unfortunately, many are also trying it and not seeing the same level of success. As a marketing technique, permission-based email is a great idea. It allows you to market your message to people who have indicated they want to hear from you (for example, by subscribing to a newsletter on your website). And any marketer will tell you that these “warm leads” are a much better audience to market to. But without the right planning in place before you start, your opt-in email marketing could get derailed.
This 6 step process to developing a permission-based email marketing strategy will help you plan every email marketing effort, whether it’s an occasional sales message or a regular e-zine.
- Determine your audience. You probably already have a fairly good idea what niche makes up your customer base. But for many businesses, that niche may not be the exact same niche that will open and read your email marketing messages. Busy professionals, for example, may already be overwhelmed with their emails; this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use email marketing, but rather that you should think carefully about what they will take the time to read.
- Determine your purpose. Knowing your audience helps you to understand your purpose. Ultimately, your purpose needs to be only one thing: will you get them to click to your website? Will you get them to buy something advertised in your email? Will you try to improve their overall feeling about your business? While it may be tempting to try and do more than one thing in each message, your many goals will be less effective than one single goal that you hammer home several times in the same email.
- Determine your message. Now that you know your purpose, you will be able to craft your message. Your purpose will help to inform you on what you want to write: If you want them to click to your site, you need to offer some “teaser” information and a link. If you want them to buy products you’ve advertised in your message, you need to (obviously) talk about those products.
- Determine your frequency. The frequency that you send these messages to your audience will depend on two things: your audience’s ability to read each message and your ability to keep up with the ongoing workload. If you have a busy audience, don’t send as many messages. If you don’t think you can maintain consistency on a twice-monthly basis, for example, only send a message once each month.
- Build a model and use a system. Rather than starting from scratch each time you send your message, make it easy on yourself. Build a template, or use one of many that are available online, and adjust it to your needs. Email list management companies like MailChimp provide templates, but do so much more. Other critical activities they take care of is ensuring that you have a systematized approach for your audience to subscribe and unsubscribe, as well as ensuring that you are compliant with the CAN-SPAM act and permission-based email best practices. They are valuable because they take a lot of the work out of your hands, allowing you to focus on your business and on creating a great marketing message. Always keep in mind two things: “Will my customers read this?” and “Will I be able to maintain this level of excellence on an ongoing basis?”
- Get started, and continue! Woody Allen said that 80% of success was simply showing up. Many good ideas stay that way, just as ideas. It’s the great ideas that are actually implemented. If you believe that you have a good email marketing idea, test it out on a limited basis and run with it. Don’t get discouraged with an initially low success rate. If you believe that you’re doing the right thing, just tweak it periodically to improve your message, and your business.