“I feel that I could use e-mail marketing more effectively to market our products, but I’m afraid that this might be considered “spamming”. What is the proper way of doing an e-mail marketing campaign? What does an effective e-mail marketing strategy entail? What are the best tools and how much will it cost?
Ivan: In our “small business pharmacy shop”, Cyri and myself call this symptom “e-mail paralysis”. In reality, e-mail marketing can not only be very cost efficient, but also extremely targeted, customizable, and measurable. Yet, quite a few organizations do not use the potential of e-mail marketing at all. For some reason most people today tend to give too much time and attention to social media, while neglecting the power of a good “old fashioned” e-mail.
Cyri: Exactly. While social media is a great branding tool to help us create desired image and interest (“pull” factor), an e-mail is still the ultimate sales tool helping you sell (“push”) your products. You want to leverage social media to draw people to your website, from there you want your website visitors to sign up for your e-mail newsletter to further engage and ultimately lead to a sale. Social media, especially social media ads, if not part of a bigger marketing strategy can have very low ROI. General Motors recent cancelling of its $10 million Facebook ad budget may very well be a sign of things to come.
Ivan: Think of a social media as your online PR, while e-mail marketing is your online sales force and customer relationship management power horse.
Cyri: E-mail marketing can do lots of marketing tasks that normally walk the customer through the so-called AIDA communication process from Attention, to Interest, Desire and, finally, Action. Use e-mail to inform, educate, persuade, remind or to ask for an order!
Ivan: Here are the ten secrets to successful e-mail marketing:
1) Consider e-mail marketing as an essential part of your overall marketing strategy. Develop an e-mail marketing blueprint or strategy. Answer questions such as what your e-mail marketing objectives are, how you will collect e-mail addresses, who you will e-mail to and how often, what type of content/message you are going to send, what technology platform you will use, and who in your organization will be responsible for managing your e-mail marketing campaigns.
2) Set goals for your e-mail marketing strategy so that at the end of the month or year you can track your progress. For example, maybe your goal is to get 50 people per month to sign up for your e-mail newsletter or have ten people per month from your e-mail list buy a product or service from you.
3) Start growing your database of existing and potential customers. Use every single opportunity (including a sign-up on your own website) to collect e-mails and get permission to send e-mail messages.
4) Make sure that you comply with anti-spam regulations of the countries where you are doing your e-marketing business. Check Canadian regulation at www.fightspam.ca. Make sure to consult a legal expert or web professional before starting your campaign. Note that many countries now have consumer opt-in approach, which stipulates that businesses must get consent prior to sending commercial email or have a pre-existing business relationship with a consumer. Do not forget to provide (and act on!) an unsubscribe option. Remember to provide your physical business address at the end of your e-mail.
5) Create your own standard e-newsletter. Make it visually appealing. Give it an attractive name. Add value by providing various tips, insights, facts or news about your products or industry. Educate your customers, build relationships and trust, and yes, always remind them to try your products. Send your e-newsletter on a regular basis!
6) Do not forget to make your subject line as informative and appealing as possible. The subject line is probably the most important part of an email! Subject lines help the reader in identifying the email, and also entice the reader to open it. Be consistent in order to build familiarity and trust.
7) While using your own e-mail program (e.g. Outlook) can serve the needs of small to medium size businesses at the beginning, we would strongly recommend using Web e-mail marketing services such as www.ConstantContact.com, www.iContact.com, , or www.MailChimp.com. These solutions can help you with creating an e-newsletter template, growing your contact lists, sending hundreds of e-mails and tracking your e-mail campaigns. Using a reputable email service can also significantly increase your percentage of emails that make it through anti-spam filters. It’s important to carefully pick an email service provider and then stick with it! Every time you switch providers you need to re-ask your subscribers to opt-in which usually leads to huge attrition rates.
8) Personalize your e-mail campaigns. Make sure to offer personal greeting and to customize your e-mails to various customer groups.
9) Finally, provide a call for action in each e-mail campaign, be it to sign up for more services, get something for free, or to purchase your products.
10) Celebrate when you have achieved your goals! Maybe have a promotion where your thousandth subscriber gets a prize. This announces to the world that your business is succeeding; helps encourage new subscribers to come on board and will make you feel good when you see yourself meeting your goals.
Future Management of Condition
Cyri: In order to improve in the future, make sure to TEST almost all elements of your e-mail marketing campaigns such as the subject line, visual template of your e-mail, the message itself, or incentives. Optimize your e-mail campaigns on a continuous basis by tracking open rates, click-throughs, bounces and transaction conversions. In one of our next columns we be writing about A/B testing, a great method for ensuring your are continuously improving your campaigns.
Generic Name & Alternative Medicine
Cyri: Just e-mail marketing! Note that e-mail marketing is part of CRM (customer relationship management) and one type of database or direct marketing. Web email services have given the e-mail marketing sector a facelift and made it easier than ever to benefit from the fundamental concepts of customer relationships.
Ivan: With AWeber, you can send unlimited emails to up to 500 subscribers for $19 (first month is only a $1!). When you get to the 10,000 to 25,000 subscriber threshold, the cost is $130 per month. MailChimp is $10 per month for up to 500 subscribers and $150 per month for the 10,000 to 25,000 threshold. They also have a “pay as you go” approach for $0.01 to $0.03 per email depending on volume. iContact has a free 30-day trial and then it’s $14 per month for 500 subscribers. They also offer a free plan for less than 100 subscribers, a great way to get started or might even be sufficient for a small business.
These prices and promotions often change so best to check the email services directly when you’re ready to get started.
Precautions / Warnings
Ivan: Avoid inundating your customers’ Inbox with your e-mail messages. Otherwise, they will either unsubscribe or stop paying attention to your messages. Sending your e-newsletter once a week or a few times a month only is probably the best approach. Make sure that every single message that you send is worth your customers’ time.
Cyri & Ivan’s Medication Rating:
Cyri Jones teaches at BCIT and Capilano University and is the founder of ZENPortfolios.ca. He blogs at 24posts.com. Ivan Surjanovic is a marketing faculty at Capilano University and CEO of iPower Lab. He blogs at whereispuck.com, www.twitter.com/whereispuck, and at bizpharmacy.com.