How many times have you complained about your inbox this week?
Even though we get dozens of messages each day. With our attention diverted to Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and texting. As pundits signal the demise of email or that at best, it's passé.
With all the communication channels and noise, email remains the best way to communicate with customers and prospects, to educate, enhance your brand and generate leads.
Email Is a Force
91% of all consumers check email daily but that's not all. 66% of consumers have made a purchase based on an email marketing message. Both online and offline, effective emails provoke action.
Plus, they are:
- Cost Effective
And help you:
- Foster Your Brand
- Enhance Lead Generation
- Improve Lead Nurturing
Floods of messages torrent through servers into email systems each day. But, with compelling information, targeted to audience needs, that solve problems and address pain points, your email can still be the clam that's easily found at low tide.
1 | Start By Understanding Your Audience
How do your capabilities connect with your audience? How do your capabilities influence the work they strive to accomplish each day?
People embrace self help. The self help genre remains a highly popular book category. It works with emails too. Delivering information describing productivity improvement opportunities or steps that boost a return on investment benefit your reader. Just make sure you don't turn self help into science fiction! Keep your audience aware of useful trends. Find ways to help them do their job better or even impress the boss.
Content is crucial. So is distribution. Who is the intended target? Is it your current customer and prospect list? Do you have other recipients in mind? Define the database and encourage new subscribers from your website and other channels.
Regular email communications are a great way to connect with prospects who are interested but not ready to buy. When you are defining your list, don't overlook the lead nurturing aspect.
2 | Commit to A Schedule
Data overwhelmingly supports the value of a regular email communication program. An effective program must be delivered timely and consistently, monthly or even more frequently. Don't start a program unless you can commit the time, effort and resources to ensure you finish what you start. If internal resources are stretched, consider outside resources to facilitate your program.
3 | Define Your Topics
What type of information does your audience find useful? Will trends, benchmarks and statistics peak their interest? Is there an opportunity to convey a new capability and explain why it matters? Do case studies bring greater clarity to effectively using your capabilities, increasing productivity or improving their ROI? Draw from your own past experiences and those of your sales team.
Deciding subjects on the fly is a fast track to poor content. Plan your topics in advance.
4 | Develop A Calendar
Once you have defined interesting topics, construct a publishing schedule. This helps ensure that content is developed and approved on time. It also provides an opportunity to better stage your communications. Does your target audience attend an annual annual trade show? Is there a seasonality for you or your end user? Connecting your communications to user needs makes them more personal and powerful. Effective timely topics improve open rates.
5 | Use A Template
An email template will reinforce your brand identity, allow simpler personalization and save time. Have a web designer build one or start from many stock versions on-line.
6 | Compose The Content
If you have developed your topics then you already have a good idea of what you'll write about. So when you punch it out, make sure it's relevant and meaningful. Speak your customer's language. Use the keywords and phrases they recognize, not internally focused terms and acronyms. If possible, give people control over content and frequency. And make sure you comply to CAN SPAM guidelines.
Plus, use these tips to improve your open rates:
- Find ways to personalize. Using a name or other elements of personalization increase open rates by 14x!
- Make sure the email comes from a real person, not firstname.lastname@example.org
- Spend time on subject lines. 64% say they open an email because of the subject line
Make it easy for users to respond or obtain other information by imbedding meaningful links and calls to action. This improves the user experience and your lead generation opportunities.
7 | Hit Send
Distributing an email communication through Outlook, Google Apps or Apple Mail is acceptable if you use the mail merge function. However, an email distribution tool like Mail Chimp or even better a marketing automation system like Act-on provides greater clarity. A marketing automation system allows you to gain a better understanding or your prospect so you can deliver them
The best time for distribution varies and is best defined through your own tracking and testing. However, you can't go wrong with Monday through Friday, between 8:30 and 10:30 AM.
8 | Evaluate The Results
Improving the value of your communications should be an ongoing objective. The best way to ensure continuous improvement is to track open and click through rates to better determine what works and what doesn't. Get user feedback. Evaluate everything from topics and subject lines to distribution days and times. Figure out what works and what doesn't. Make changes accordingly.
Brand Awareness / Lead Generation / Lead Nurturing
From print to social media, there are many potential elements that incorporate effective marketing programs. But the case to include email as part of your mix is too compelling to ignore. A regular email newsletter will increase your brand awareness, generate leads and drive revenue you would otherwise not see.