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Email marketing tutorial for small businesses

What is Email Marketing?

Email Marketing is the use of email to promote products and/or services to the customers. It is like direct mail but instead of the postal service, it is done electronically over the internet. That makes it an easy and cost-effective way to reach and develop relationships with your customer base.

How do I get started with Email marketing? 

Choose your email marketing provider

Choose your email marketing provider to suit your business needs. 

Some popular email marketing providers are: 

Infusionsoft (by Keap), iContact, myEmma, Mailchimp, Mailerlite, Vertical response, Campaign Monitor, and AWeber

Build your Email list

At this point, it is tempting to buy an email list. Do not do it. Never buy an email list, earn your subscribers organically. There are many reasons never to buy an email list. Here are a few:
  1. You cannot trust the quality of the lists: Some might have spelling mistakes, wrong first names, incomplete data.
  2. You come across as a spammer: The people on the list have not given you the consent directly to email them, so there are chances that the emails from you might land up into the spam folder in their mailbox. This defeats the entire purpose of doing email marketing.
  3. You might run into trouble with your email marketing provider. Most email marketing provider platforms keep a count of where your emails land and if they are opened or not. Too many bounce backs make lead to the email provider closing your account (or sometimes it may even mean legal trouble).
  4. You are violating the CAN-SPAM Act in the United States. Other countries too would have similar bills in place against bulk email marketing.

Then what do you do? How do you build an email list organically? Just ask your readers/followers for their email address. No really, that's it. 

Most email marketing providers will have forms you can display on your website, social media pages or your emails. 

Let me explain. I am using the email marketing provider Mailchimp. They provide sign up forms that can be added on your website. I have used a pop up sign up form on my blog, the sign up form can easily be customized to suit your email marketing needs and reflect your company's business. I have also added a sign up form on my company's Facebook page. Whenever someone visits my website or Facebook page, they have the option to sign up for my newsletter.

Research by Mailchimp found that websites that add pop up forms, increase their subscribers mailing list by 50%. 

Plan and implement your campaigns

Mailchimp (and many other email marketing providers) provide business owners with the ability to reach out to their subscribers when they are most likely to open the emails. If you decide on sending out newsletters to your subscribers, please do so regularly and consistently.

Like every other marketing strategy out there, planning and follow up are important components for success. There is a lot of research out there that states that subscribers like to receive updates at least once a month. Send out marketing or promotional emails too often and risk your email being sent to the junk, or the spam folder. Send emails out often, maybe a couple of times a month. Do not risk being forgotten by the clients. 

According to evatotuts+ there are 10 different types of emailing campaigns a small business can benefit from. These are:
  1. Welcome emails: Here you thank your subscriber for signing up.
  2. Tutorial and tips email: DIY videos, 'how to' emails, installation guides, motivational tips, the list is endless. Give your subscriber a reason to engage with your business.
  3. Customer stories: If you are a service provider, share testimonials and work examples. And remember ALWAYS ASK FOR PERMISSION
  4. Brand stories: Why customers prefer your brand over similar brands in the industry. 
  5. Re-engagement emails: These are 'miss you' and 'come back' emails where you try and persuade your subscriber who has lost interest to come back. These emails are actually the most difficult ones to write.
  6. Cart abandonment reminders: Used by retailers and ecommerce businesses o reach out to customers who have not completed their shopping transaction as yet.
  7. Time sensitive promotions: Emails sent out with offers for discounts which expire soon. Example of this type of email is a sale for Mother's day.
  8. Receipt emails: After a customer finishes up a transaction on your site, thank them for making the sale.
  9. Sales follow up emails: If you are selling a physical product, chances are that the customer has to wait before the delivery is completed. You can send out follow up emails during this time.
  10. Review request: Once customers have completed their transaction with you, you can ask them for their review.
The type of email marketing campaign you choose will depend largely on the size of your organization or business, and the type of product or service it delivers. 

Where does that leave us? We are back to square one with the same question: How often do I send out emails? Many marketers struggle with finding the sweet spot between too many and too few. So what is the magic number?  There is no magic number. Do what feels right. As a rule of thumb, many email marketers start out by emailing the company newsletter to their subscribers once a month. This is a good frequency, since you do not overwhelm your subscribers but still develop a relationship with them. 

Try out different email formats with your customer base, and see what your subscribers respond to. This can be done by monitoring the rate at which the emails are opened. 

No matter which type of email campaign, frequency of emailing or the service provider you choose, remember There is no 'one fits all' answer to this problem. Understand your business needs and then proceed. Email marketing is about building long tern relationships with customers. Use your newsletter as a way to build up a relationship with your client. And do not pitch to them in every email you exchange with a customer. 

Image source: Iconfinder


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