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The Six Pillars of Effective Email Marketing

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Good Email Marketing = Fantastic lead generation source. Bad Email Marketing = SPAM. How do you walk the fine line of email marketing to maximize your return-on-investment? Mitch Tarr, CEO and founder of ZinMarketing, explains how to get email marketing to work just as hard and smart as you do.

All companies want to develop stronger long term relationships with their prospects and clients yet most don’t send so much as a regular email newsletter. The truth is that for years now email marketing has delivered the highest ROI (Return on Investment) of any online marketing medium.

At the same time it seems everywhere you turn, you are being hit by advertising from software companies telling you how easy it is to do email marketing, yet many of you reading this will have tried email marketing with limited success or just don’t believe how powerful it can be.

With the six pillars of effective email marketing you’ll have a framework to kick-start your email marketing campaigns and start to receive the ROI you expect.

1. List Building. There are entire books written on building your lists of addresses, but you should be doing these things as a bare minimum. First, make sure you have a sign up form on your home page. Place it in a prominent spot—like the top left side of your page for example. Also, make sure in your navigation buttons you have a link to a sign up page, and make sure you have an opportunity to sign up on every page on your site.

You’ll find it will make a BIG difference to your success if you offer your visitors a good reason to sign up for your list. Don’t just say "free newsletter" and leave it at that. Offer to give them something of value and state the benefits of signing up.

2. List Segmentation. Segmenting your list into different groups can have a big impact on your success. It’s quite common to see companies use a single newsletter list and send the same message to all. This is a mistake.

At a minimum, you should have three different audiences. One group might be your blue chip customers. These are your top supporters. These people you treat with special care because you want them to remain loyal. Another might be the balance of your customers. Your strategy should be to motivate them to become a blue chip customer! A third might be those people who have never done business with you. You want them to take the first step and become a new customer.

The simple value in segmenting your list is that you will customize your message specifically to each audience. Send targeted messages to motivate your prospects to become customers and your regular customers to become blue chip customers. Send very personal useful emails to your blue chips to keep them.

3. Relevance. Relevance is a hard concept to grasp it seems, but it starts at the beginning. If you promise a white paper, deliver it. If you offer a newsletter, send it. Then you can go to the next step. For instance, if you're a restaurant and want to keep in touch with your customers to invite them in for special events and offers, then it would not be relevant to send them an offer for car insurance.

While it’s true people with cars need car insurance, they originally wanted to hear about your special events and offers and don’t want or need to hear all about car insurance from you. Although this might be a bit extreme of an example, you’d be amazed at how many businesses start to drift off topic when they find their list is responding to messaging.

4. Call to Action. This is probably the biggest missed opportunity I see in informational and promotional emails: the lack of a clear call to action.

A call to action can be a simple thing. "Click here to read more", "Click here to sign up", "Click here to buy now" are all great examples of a call to action.

The best way to create a clear and compelling call to action is to plan the call to action FIRST before you write the email. This way it will be harder for you to fall off track and send emails that don’t have a clear purpose.

5. Frequency. If you are like most people, you'll feel that you don’t want to ‘annoy’ your readers by sending too frequently. However, there is a RIGHT email frequency for your list. It could be monthly, it could be weekly, it could even be daily.

One thing is for sure: Most people don’t send often enough. If you have something valuable and relevant to say, say it.

My advice would be to send two short relevant emails instead of one longer email with both topics in it. Each email will have more impact as a result. However, if you do send too frequently, you’ll see it in your statistics and you’ll know to back off.

6. Statistics. One of the single greatest advantages of email marketing is that you can track the results of a campaign. The level of detail is incredible. You can see how many emails bounced back, how many people opened your email, how many clicked on your call to action, and how many sales came from your efforts.

Over time, you will learn exactly what is important in your list. You’ll know to send more of this and less of that. You’ll see which offers resonate with your audience and which ones just don't cut it.

I’ve seen different subject lines, different email copy and different offers make up to a 12 times difference in viewership, so make sure you review these statistics after every mailing and work to improve based on the results.

Step back from your email marketing and see if you have incorporated these strategies effectively. If you do, you’ll soon see a difference in your results.

About the Author.
Mitch Tarr is the CEO and founder of ZinMarketing Inc., an email marketing agency which specializes in providing email marketing services for small business. Read more great email marketing tips on their blog.