This is a guest post from Deana Kovač at Point Visible.
If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past decade, you’re likely to be (even slightly) aware of the fact that you need to do email marketing if you hope to run a successful business.
And if you’re still unconvinced, feel it might be too much of a hassle, or not worth your time, just listen to Noah Kagan, and you’ll be completely sold on the idea and want to send your first promo email.
But before you start hitting the send button blindly and ineffectively, allow yourself the proper time to prepare for this endeavor. Having put all the right wheels in motion, your list-building and email-sending efforts will yield much better results.
So here are the nine things you need to do before the first promo email leaves your outbox:
Target audience insights
The first question you want to ask yourself is: Who are you targeting with these emails? Because, bear in mind, you definitely won’t want to send the same email to all the people on your list.
Let’s assume you’ve done your homework and you have an established target audience in mind every time you publish a blog post, post on social media, or launch a new product or service.
Now think of the emails and who you want seeing them. Is it a returning customer? Or perhaps someone who’s visited your site but hasn’t made a purchase? Are you looking for new leads only? Cold leads? How cold?
You’ll also want to keep in mind that your blog target audience and your email target audience don’t need to overlap. Neither do your client and email lists need to match in terms of demographics, age, online behavior, etc.
Which is where segmentation comes in:
Segmentation at its finest
Segmenting your list is a step you’ll need to tackle before doing much else.
You’re segmenting your list because you want to give your contacts a personalized experience, rather than a generic email. This kind of messaging will annoy some, interest others, and inspire the rest of your list to unsubscribe.
You can look into different email segmentation ideas, and start from some of the more basic ones: age, location, buying stage. As you get the hang of things, you can slowly start to delve deeper into the specifics and shoot for inactive users, email open rates, etc.
You’re likely to mess up at some point, but the important thing to remember is this: You can always move contacts from one category to another, and you don’t need to cling to your initial ideal. Your leads will appreciate it.
Content and context
Before you send out the actual email, you’ll need to decide on the following:
- A subject: make sure to A/B test your subject lines and change them around. For example, you can start with [10% discount inside—get yours on time!]. This type of subject is clear about what you’re offering, yet still requires the reader to open the email (and see until what date the discount is valid). Write down a set of subjects for each segment, and test them all out as time goes by.
- Content: tailor the voice of the email to the actual reader. Add as many custom visuals to it as you can. Like so:
- Schedule: will, again, depend on your target audience. Some brands love to send out emails daily (Colourpop being one of them), while others do it once a week. You can go for any interval that works, as long as it works. Again, test and make sure.
- Unsubscribe: you have to give your target a chance to opt out. Not only does it create a poor user experience to not do so, but it’s also required. And don’t forget to remove this person from the list.
A means to an end
Every list needs to have a clear goal in sight. What’re you hoping to do with it? Are you looking to get more likes on a post you just shared on LinkedIn? Are you looking to get people to buy something? Are you just trying to get them to engage with the email?
When writing your emails, subjects, and landing page copy, make sure you factor in the end goal and the target audience. What would inspire them to do what you want them to do?
If you’re looking to score likes, make sure the link is prominent, clickable, the anchor text you are using (if any, and not an image) is enticing. Your job is to make it as easy, quick, and enjoyable as you can, no matter what you’re asking your reader to do.
But before you actually begin!
Speaking of landing pages…
If you’re sending your contacts to a specific page, make sure it’s optimized first. Is checkout working? Are your products clearly listed and are your descriptions well written? Do your internal links point to other items visitors might find interesting?
If you send readers to a chaotic page (or, worse yet, your homepage), they’ll leave in a heartbeat. You need to make it easy for them.
Make sure there are no typos and errors in the copy on the page, that all the links work, and that you’re tracking conversions from this page. You want to know what you may be doing wrong, as well as what you’ve done right.
Software aids to the rescue
If you’ve come this far, you’re likely already thinking about the amount of time doing all of this will take. Luckily, smart marketers and software techs have solved some of these issues for you.
The easiest thing to automate is sending out all these emails.
You can use ESPs like Campaign Monitor or Buzzstream, for example.
The main thing to automate is the send part. You don’t need to be clicking send thousands of times.
The main thing not to automate is your customer service responses. Sure, you can have general automated responses, like, “Thank you for contacting us,” but you also need to have a human who’ll sift through all that.
Make sure your customers feel like they’re dealing with humans, not robots.
Make subscribing easy and worth their while.
Getting people to subscribe to your list won’t always be simple. You can try pop-ups, paid ads, CTAs, and you can also offer gated content that’ll require a sign-up.
However, making people feel forced to give an email address just to be able to access something will often mean they’ll unsubscribe after they get what they want.
Which is why you need to make them feel like a part of an exclusive club.
Offer email-only discounts, email-only offers, personalized recommendations, tailor-made shopping guides, additional information on your products—anything that you don’t offer on the website, but that can make someone want to stay a member of the club.
Write guides and articles that you only send to your subscribers, which provide value. No one will read an email if they’re not interested. They might stay subscribed, but that’s not the point.
Rely on mediums other than email.
Marketing your email list through media other than email is also a good practice. Include subscription links at the ends of blog posts you write for others in the industry or to social media blasts and YouTube videos.
Be active on forums and in communities that host your target audience. Start a blog on Medium (which is a sound content marketing technique in its own right) and market your newsletter (or whatever you’d like to call it) there as well.
Naturally, this approach will work better in certain lines of business, so make sure you explore how viable it can be before you actually start doing it.
Lend a helping hand.
Finally, let’s talk a bit about cross-promotion.
If you can find a company that’s complementary to yours (i.e., not your direct competitor in any way), you can easily find a way to help each other out. If you sell shoes and they sell socks, the partnership is only natural.
Not only you can use each other’s lists (not in the sense of taking their list and sending all of the emails, but having them promote you through their own list), but you can learn a lot about the tactics that have worked well for them and try to adopt some of them too.
As new leads start pouring in, you’ll also likely become aware of new target audiences that you haven’t considered before, but are very keen on jumping on board as well.
Let’s recap: Having an email list is important. Segmenting it and personalizing it is just as important.
As with every other marketing tactic, the more research and prep work you do, the better the results should be. Don’t rely on strength in numbers alone—there’s something to be said for quality, too. So, go ahead and send that first promo email—the first of many more.
Deana Kovač is an internet marketing specialist at Point Visible, a digital agency providing custom blogger outreach services. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music and singing karaoke. Also, her day just can’t start without a hot cup of coffee.