In a marketing world of chatbots, social media and online influencers, lots of independent and startup businesses question the need for email marketing.
Is it still relevant? Does it still work?
The answer is 100% YES.
It's the perfect channel for building a relationship with new customers who've signed up to hear more from you but haven't purchased yet. It's also the perfect channel for reminding existing customers you exist, and why what you do is so great, and thereby getting repeat business.
If you haven't done email marketing before, or just dabbled in it, it can be a bit confusing knowing where to start and how to get things moving. Check out these bits of advice to help.
Choose an easy-to-use email service provider (ESP)
There are plenty of good ESPs out there for small businesses, with the most well known probably being Mailchimp.
These providers offer low cost plans (sometimes starting with a basic free option), drag and drop email templates (making it really easy to create something that looks professional), while also giving you somewhere to store all your contacts. The latter makes it easy for you to set up 'mailing lists' - for either your whole database or segmented once you have enough contacts.
Create a few basic templates
Before you hit send on that first email, set up a few basic templates for your business.
One could be for a monthly newsletter - sharing updates, new products, or things that are going on behind the scenes at your HQ.
Another could be for a more tactical / promotion-based email with lots of product promoted.
And a third could be a more transactional style email that could be sent when someone purchases or enquires through your website.
Once these templates are set up it will make your email campaigns much quicker to set up and fire out.
Make your templates visually appealing
When creating your email templates, think about it from your customers' POV. Your email is probably one of several marketing emails they've received in the last 24 hours - if it's not immediately eye-catching and easy to digest, you've lost them.
Think big images and minimal text - you can always link to longer-form blogs or copy, and your subscribers can decide whether they want to read more.
Start collecting subscribers
Pretty important this - you need some subscribers to actually be able to market to!
Add a subscription box in an obvious place on your website, test having a pop-up on your website after someone has been on a certain page for a while, ask people to subscribe through other channels (e.g social media - competitions can be a great way to kick things off), offer free advice / something to encourage people to want to subscribe.
Test, send, review
Before sending that first email - test it!
Send it through to yourself (your email service provider will have a test option) and check the look and feel of the email, make sure the images fit properly and the links work.
You’ll want to think about your subject line too and make sure it's compelling enough that it will make people open the email.
Once you’ve sent your first email, take a look at how many subscribers have opened it (as a percentage of total subscribers) and what they’ve done / where they’ve clicked. You’ll be able to track this through your ESP as well as your Google Analytics if this is set up for your website.
The more emails you send, the more you’ll be able to find out about your subscribers - what content interests them, what content converts and so on, meaning you can refine your strategy.