You might think that e-mail campaigns aren’t very effective. After all, your business probably receives e-mails everyday from other companies offering you their services, and you either delete them or mark them as junk. Sure, the effectiveness of an e-mail campaign is going to vary on who your target audience is and what you’re trying to sell. As Web Developers, we get e-mails each and every day from SEO companies telling us that our website is not appearing in Google when we know better. You may also receive similar e-mails, and of course these are not going to be effective. Don’t let this deter you though, there are many ways in which e-mail marketing can work for your business.
E-mail is cost-effective. Once you’ve created an e-mail campaign, it can be sent to as many people as you like quickly and easily, and without the costs of traditional mail. There are some great tools out there for creating good-looking campaigns, and I’m going to cover our favourite a little later which should be completely free for your typical small to medium-sized business.
E-mail is less intrusive. E-mail has a large advantage over postal and telephone marketing because your e-mail won’t be taking a lot of the recipient’s time to deal with. If they’re interested they will read it, and if not it’s easy to delete. With telephone and postal marketing, the recipient has to spend more time reading or listening to your message. With telephone marketing especially, if the recipient is not interested in your services, your attempt to contact them may leave them unhappy with your company and less likely to contact you once they need your services.
Don’t wait for your customers to come to you. With e-mail marketing you can easily put your business infront of potential or existing customers. Perhaps you have launched a new service and want to tell your customers about it? If you take the e-mail addresses of your customers then you can e-mail them to let them know, rather than waiting for them to find out for themselves.
E-mail is quick. You won’t need to wait long for responses to your campaign, and you’ll be able to measure its success and start planning the next campaign within a matter of days and not weeks. Using online tools, a campaign can be created very quickly, reducing the time it takes to launch the campaign as well as the cost to your business over other marketing methods.
E-mail Newsletters. Newsletters are a great way to keep your customers up-to-date with what’s happening in your company. While they do take a lot of commitment as they’ll need to be sent out regularly, they are a great way of building and then maintaining relationships with your customers. You can allow your website visitors to sign up to your newsletter themselves by having this functionality added to your website if you don’t already have it, which should build up your list of contacts quickly.
Announcement e-mails. You would send these types of e-mails when you have something new and exciting to tell them. This could be a new product or service, or something else that you want them to know about a change in your business. These e-mails are great for getting a simple message out to a large number of people, and they might not have found out any other way if you hadn’t told them.
Sign-up e-mails. These e-mails are designed to turn readers into leads for your business. You will typically prepare what’s called a “landing page” on your website, and link to it in the e-mail. Readers of the e-mail will hopefully click your link to view your landing page, which would have been specially set up for that e-mail campaign, and would include information on a special offer or a new service, and an easy way for them to contact you about it. The landing page will allow you to monitor the traffic that is receives as a way of monitoring the success of the campaign.
The service we use for e-mail campaigns is MailChimp. MailChimp has a lot of great features for creating, sending, and then monitoring campaigns. It’s easy to recommend because it’s powerful, and also free for less than 2000 contacts and no more than 12,000 e-mails sent each month. A typical small or medium-sized business normally wouldn’t have 2000 contacts on their mailing list, or need to send more than 12,000 e-mails in a month, so MailChimp should be completely free for you to use.
With MailChimp, you can select a template from a large range of templates for your campaign. They all look good and look much better than what you’re probably used to seeing in an e-mail. If you want to create your own template, then the drag-and-drop editor will let you create your own look and feel that will be customised to your needs. You can create lists using your contacts so you can traget only certain groups of people. Once you’ve sent out your campaign, MailChimp provides a lot of data for you in the way of reports.
Once you’ve signed up for a MailChimp account and have taken a look around it, it’s time to create your first campaign. You’ll need to decide on your target audience and the information that you want to deliver, and then you’ll need to get together a list of the people you want to e-mail. MailChimp allows you to import your contacts into what it calls “lists,” that allow you to organise your contacts. You can import contacts from a .csv file, a common file format for holding a lot of similar information, like a list of contacts. If your contacts are stored inside another service then you’ll probably be able to export them into a .csv file ready for importing into MailChimp. You can even copy and paste from Excel.
Don’t worry if you haven’t yet built up a list of contacts, if you’re prepared to spend some money you can buy entire databases of contacts that will give you all that you need to reach out to a large number of people. Alternatively, speak to your Web Developers about building up a contact list using your website.