Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Basics of Email Marketing

Its hot. And I am bothered, irritated and annoyed. Not only from the plasterer who quite frankly ripped me off on Monday this week but also because the amount of email that hits my inbox that just does not work enough to gain my interest.

So I've decided to blog about email marketing and some of the basic steps you should take to ensure not only that your email arrives at someones inbox but also increases your chances of being opened, read AND actioned on!

First off: Get their permission!

Permission based email marketing is the way to go. Basically means that someone has signed up or subscribed to allow you to send them emails. Targeted emails to agreed subscribers are proven to convert far better into customers than firing out emails blindly in the hope that they may stick - which by the way is considered spam. Get caught and its likely your email address will be blacklisted from ISP services, your ISP cuts you off, you get the picture.

2nd: Ensure your email lets them unsubscribe

People will appreciate seeing the link in your email advising them "to unsubscribe here". Make sure it works! So many times I have unsubscribed only to keep on receiving emails - from then on I just filter them into my junk folder. If it continues for more than a week then generally I make a complaint that I am not interested and then report them to their web hosts. Not happened too many times.

3rd: Your address - your physical off line real world address is displayed

At the foot of your email make sure your email has your name, address AND email and contact telephone numbers. Nothing worse than getting an email and there are no contact details to allow someone to call you or physically visit your address. Makes most users very wary and with the Internet you only want to creat trust and integrity ALWAYS to help establish a positive online reputation.

4th: Link to your website

I do see this time and time again. People forget the purpose of your email is to BRING people to your site and yet they either offer no link or put a link at the bottom of an email.

Put your link in using solid anchor based text to DRIVE people to your website. In fact put a few links in and your telephone number easily spotted inside your email.
They don't want to sit down and read lines and lines of your email before reaching a link. They're busy.

Make it as easy as possible for your readers to reach your site.

5th: Good grammar

Poor spelling online can allow others to poorly perceive your company (regardless if you work from a home office OR from high-tech commercial premises).

Yet it is the most common error. Slow down, take another 30 seconds to a minute and actually READ what you have just written. Don't be too reliant on Spell Checking Software if you have access to it, its not foolproof.

You must manually read your article BEFORE sending it out.

If you're not a great writer then find a copywriter who can help you with grammar and spelling. They should be able to help you get an even better response from your emails with their stylish writing skills.

6th: Your email MUST be honest

Do not promise things that when clicked upon the user finds out there not actually available. Do not fool people into opening your email - it makes most users fairly angry that their time has been wasted.

Clearly state the benefits in your email subject and then ensure they are easily found in your email. Honest communications creates a Win Win situation. Your subscribers have received what was actually promised and you've maintained great positive contact.

I think emails that use gorilla type tactics do not garner much success due to a highly negative perception from customers.

7th: Be courteous in your email

Yes you should consider the demographics of a reader of your email but do not insult their intelligence. Writing your subject in CAPITAL LETTERS SOUNDS LIKE YOU ARE SHOUTING which is considered rude by many people.

Offer your subscriber the benefits of buying from you with helpful hints and tips - this can increase their awareness of you as an expert in your field. Place your sales copy after your tips. Keep the article to the point. If it does have to be long place a link to your website with a continuation. Let them absorb your email in readily digestible chunks.

Be polite, offering real benefits for reading your email. Who knows you may get an email back from them thanking you for taking the time for sending them useful details.

8th: Assure them of your privacy policy

People are always wary of giving out their email addresses due to fear of being spammed. Make certain you have a privacy policy stated on your website AND then include brief details of that policy with a link in every email you send.

9th: Offer choices in your email

People like to make decisions and choices and you can offer that in your email with various links to different parts of your website. However you should consider that too many choices can be tiresome in an email. Better to offer a fewer set of links and then on your website offer more links there instead. Makes it easier and can help someone surf your site further and longer on your site.

10th: Build a relationship

Send your emails regularly - at least once a month - at the same time and on the same day if at all possible. Subscribers will then eventually expect your email on a regular basis and are more likely to read it

That's it for email marketing for now. I intend to explore this side of online marketing further over the next few months to help readers of this blog generate even more online sales from their websites.