An Introduction to Email Marketing

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Despite the growing prevalence of business-related social media, many people still want to have one place to go for all their business-related correspondence: their email. Whether you're sending out promotions, coupons, or just news, email newsletters are a great way to keep in touch with your customer base, and encourage them to come back to your company for purchases down the line.

If you're convinced you want to start using email marketing, but you don't know where to start, read on. If you have an existing newsletter, you might still find some helpful hints!

Before You Begin

Hold your horses – deciding you want to start email marketing isn't the only thing to do before you send out your first newsletter! Start with this checklist:

  • Choose an email service provider (ESP). It looks amateurish to send bulk mailings from your email client, and too many BCC recipients usually flag your message as spam.
  • Decide which email address your newsletter will come from. Make sure it's an account that someone checks regularly.
  • Decide what content you'll be sending, and how often. Will you send out coupons monthly, or news weekly, or a link roundup every day? There's no right way, but you might want to pay attention to what other lists in your niche are doing.
  • Pick a template to use. Many email clients deal with HTML differently, so finding and personalizing a robust template is often a better choice than trying to design one yourself.
  • Create a promotional product. If you give away a free white paper, ebook, or report in exchange for a newsletter signup, you will grow your list fast and establish your authority with your readers.
  • Create sign-up forms with minimal required information – just name and email address is typical. Make sure the sign-up forms are benefit-centered and well-tested before they go live.
  • Write and schedule a welcome letter, introducing every new reader to your newsletter and what to expect from your newsletter (frequency, your writing style, etc.). Be sure to use your best online copywriting skills.
  • Set up analytics, or learn to access those provided by your ESP, and decide what your successful email marketing campaign will be measured by.

Getting Started

Now that you're all set up, it's time to start building your list and sending out your first mailings. Make sure you put yourself on the list so that you can check that the emails come through well for you.

  • Put sign-up forms on your website. Make sure the form is on the homepage at least, and many sites display it on every page in the sidebar, so that visitors always have access to it.
  • Make sure your list is double opt-in. People will need to enter their email address in the form, then click a link in their email to activate their registration. This is the law (in the US), and will reduce the number of people dropping off the list in the future. Don't forget to make it easy for customers to opt-out, too.
  • Email contacts. Send one email to previous customers or contacts giving them a link to opt-in to the newsletter. Include a link to receive the newsletter in the checkout screen or after new customers complete a purchase.
  • Create great headlines. Make sure people are interested enough to open the newsletter, and don't use a title that might be picked up by spam filters.
  • Write regularly and ahead of time. Make sure you have plenty of time before the newsletter goes out so that you can make its content useful and high-quality.
  • Make the most of your template. Don't forget to include alt text for pictures, charts, and buttons, in case a recipient has images turned off.
  • Have someone else review it. Fresh eyes can give you feedback about the design and writing quality.

Keep It Going

It might take weeks or months to set up an email marketing campaign – but once it's up, it can go for years. Keep it from getting stale by continuing to improve it and gathering new leads.

  • Take responsibility. Make sure writing, reviewing, and formatting the newsletter is someone's responsibility, and have plans for coverage so that the newsletter always gets out on time.
  • Keep testing. Try A/B testing your newsletter to find the best headlines and design, and be sure to experiment with ways to boost your conversion rates.
  • Ask for input once in a while. Run a survey by adding a link, or just by asking readers to reply to the email with their feedback on a specific question.
  • Encourage recipients to forward the email. An interesting newsletter could lead a new reader back to your site, so make sure there is a link to your homepage in every newsletter!
  • Set up a newsletter computer at conventions. Let people sign up on the spot.
  • Include a link to opt in in your email footer. Make sure everyone you correspond with hears about your newsletter.
  • Advertise in your print material. Send people to your site specifically for the newsletter sign-up.
  • Mention your newsletter in social media. Make sure each social media profile includes a link or form to sign up for the newsletter.
  • Create new promotional products. If your ebook is getting stale, release a new one to current subscribers and new leads.

Now you're ready to create, start, and sustain your email campaign. Would you give other internet marketers any other advice about email marketing?

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