Have you created your own list? Not a shopping list or a to-do list, but one that holds details of your customers and prospects who have agreed that you can email them regularly.
If you haven’t built a list yet, make it a top priority to do it. Here’s why:
- You’ll be given permission to market to each person who signs up
- You’ll be able to control who you are talking to. Who knows who you’re reaching on social media?
- You can target specific customers and prospects with special offers
- You can tell your customer base what’s happening in your business and your industry and how that could help or affect them
- You can clearly measure the effectiveness of the campaigns you run to your list and tweak them quickly
How do you build your email list?
You can’t just take a group of people, get their details, and start marketing to them. That would hardly be useful anyway. Wouldn’t you rather email people who have shown interest in your business or bought from you in the past?
So, let’s look at how you can expand your list by taking every opportunity to get customer buy-in:
- Set up a Subscriber Pop-Up box on your website. You can do this with plugins like Elementor or OptinForms or use Email systems that include a subscriber pop-up (more about this later).
- Make sure anyone who has bought from you can sign up to be added to your list
- When you make connections through networking, send them a link to subscribe to your list
- Create a lead magnet campaign to increase subscribers. That could be a White Paper, a video, a business guide, a podcast, a webinar, the list goes on. Anything that will generate interest. And to get it, people must sign up.
- Add ‘Bonus’ content to your website in return for a subscribe
- Create a blog that readers can subscribe to
- Create online competitions using systems like Woo Box. To enter, you’ll get people signing up – the list gets bigger!
- Buy a list of targeted prospects. These will already have been vetted for marketing permissions but of course, won’t necessarily know who you are.
- Do you run a Facebook Group? If you do, use the Group Leads system and turn new members into subscribers on your list
- Add a ‘Sign-Up’ button on your business Facebook Page
Why you should use an automated mailer system?
Automation is great for a reason. It makes things happen without you having to think about them or use your valuable time to do them.
There are some important benefits it brings to any email campaign you send:
Templates and customised graphics – want to send an email that has your look and feel including your brand colors and logo. Email systems let you set up templates so you only have to do it once.
Optimise your scheduling – Sometimes, you want to send an email to arrive at 6.00 am ready to catch the early risers among your subscribers. But do you want to get up at 5.30 to send it? Mailer systems allow you to schedule your emails exactly when you want them to go, whatever time of day or night.
Measure effectiveness – It’s so helpful to know who has clicked through to your email and actually read it. As you build a picture of what works and what doesn’t, you will be able to set up campaigns that meet your customers’ needs on a more consistent basis. You’ll also get more enquiries.
Customer segmentation – build knowledge of your customer interests, their age, gender, home region, whether they have kids, profession, and so on. The more you target your customers’ interests, the more click-throughs you’ll get and if your offer stacks up, more sales!
Tips for optimising Email Marketing
Once you have a list, you need to start thinking about how often you email, what content you’ll use, and how to increase engagement.
Let’s talk about frequency. Think about companies you’ve unsubscribed from. Did they bombard you with emails on an almost daily basis? Was the information largely irrelevant to you? Whatever the reason, learn from that. Don’t overload your list.
Deliver tasters for the content on your website or the lead magnets you have created. Don’t send your list huge emails that take an hour to read.
Keep your emails concise and well structured. Keep to no more than 3 points within any one email – people will either forget the key message you’re conveying or lose interest.
Importantly, get into a rhythm. Whilst you may alienate people with a daily email, once a week or even monthly for some content will almost certainly work well. Play around with times and days of the week you send your communications and monitor your click-through rates to see what works best.
5 Email Marketing Systems you should consider
Mailchimp is one of the longest established leaders in the email marketing field. Nearly 20 years old, it has developed over time to provide some of the richest functionality available, even in its free version.
Mailchimp allows you to send professional-looking emails to your database. The free version gives you an allowance of 10,000 emails a month to a maximum of 2000 contacts. If you’re just starting out with email marketing, it’s a great system to adopt. The Essential package takes you up to 500,000 emails to 50,000 contacts a month without all the functionality available. There are more plans that give you, even more, volume and functionality as you expand. To get advanced customer insights and the ability to retarget your customers, for example, you will need to invest in the Standard plan, which is still a very affordable $14.99 a month for up to 500 contacts and increases as you get more contacts. 15,000 contacts with 180,000 email allowance costs $170 per month as an example.
The ability to split test your campaigns is excellent, there are great tools to create subscriber pop-ups and landing pages, digital advertising, and even the ability to find like-minded people to those who currently subscribe.
Customisation and segmentation are very powerful so if you want to try some of the tips we have offered here, Mailchimp should definitely be a system you review.
Aweber is another system that provides both a free and a Pro version. The free plan allows you up to 500 contacts but more than that, you’re into the paid system. This starts at $19 a month and the more subscribers you have the more you pay. The monthly plans are dependent on subscribers only. All the features available are provided on every paid plan.
Aweber has more templates than Mailchimp so is even more customisable. Again, there is plenty of ability to do split testing, customer segmentation, and list building functionality.
Importing your list is easy in a wide range of formats and your email designs will all be responsive, meaning they automatically resize themselves for the device they are being viewed on.
One of the strengths of Aweber is that you can use web-fonts as well as the less attractive standard ones we use every day. This means you can keep your brand consistent if you use a particular web font and your emails will be more striking than many of your competitors send.
Aweber allows you to use autoresponders to increase the conversion of your campaign. Autoresponders are triggered by user actions or a passage of time that you set. They allow you to do things like sending a welcome message when someone signs up to your list, or send a special offer email after they buy a product, etc.
Aweber also has a very useful piece of functionality not many others do – AMP for Email. Rather than sending a static email or newsletter, you can add dynamic content to your emails. What does that mean? Basically, your customers can interact with you directly without leaving the body of the email. So you can get them to vote in a poll, book an appointment or get regularly updated information like sports results, news headlines, currency rates, weather forecasts. You name it, you can add it. This kind of email often gets customers looking at the same email more than once which is great for you as you try to increase sales.
Constant Contact is a very robust system that provides lots of automation and a premier system at an affordable cost.
There are two plans; Email and Email Plus. The email starts at $20 a month for up to 500 contacts and rises to $45 a month for the more advanced functionality of Email Plus including automated customer workflows and advanced campaign tools like polls and surveys.
Constant Contact makes it very easy to send customised contact to customers based on their preferences and like our other top systems, makes split testing very manageable.
The customer analytics tools are well displayed and easy to understand which makes it more likely you’ll benefit from their insights.
The drag-and-drop email setup makes it easy to design your campaigns without any prior knowledge and again there are plenty of templates you can use.
Constant Contact is one of the most secure platforms available with multi-layered SSL encryption for information like credit card details.
Sendinblue allows you to easily create both email and SMS campaigns in a very intuitive drag and drop design module.
Pricing is based on the number of emails you send. Your daily allowance is 300 emails. However, the Lite plan is excellent value giving you 40,000 emails per month and advanced functionality like workflow automation. The only negative here is that if you want to remove the Sendinblue branding from your emails, you’ll need to upgrade to the Essential Plan at $39 a month which also increases your monthly allowance to 60,000 emails.
The system comes with Autoresponders, targeted cart recovery (contacting people who almost bought but for some reason didn’t) or targeting visitors to particular pages on your website.
Importing your list isn’t quite as flexible as others we have reviewed. You can only use a CSV format rather than direct imports from other CRM systems.
The system doesn’t have the robust security built into Constant Contact but is very helpful for GDPR with lots of help on creating GDPR compliant sign up forms and lists.
The ability to include SMS in your messaging makes Sendinblue stand out here but if you are not using this channel it may not be the perfect system for you.
Mailer Lite has some really attractive templates for email and newsletter campaigns and is very competitive price-wise in the market. It’s a great tool for small businesses that don’t need the most complex or advanced functionality.
The free plan allows you up to 1000 subscribers and provides a good degree of marketing automation.
The reporting available is not as advanced as others covered above but will be adequate for many lower-volume users.
Mailer Lite is particularly useful for bloggers given its WordPress plugins, RSS campaigns, and video marketing functionality.
Like all the systems here, it is easy to set up and create pop-up subscribe forms and landing pages.
Mailer Lite won’t give you complex automation or detailed reporting but it will deliver very good results on a budget.
Start planning your email campaigns now
You should by now, be able to see that email marketing is an essential tool to increase leads and ultimately sales for your business. Take some time to plan your content, set up a couple of lead magnets, review and choose your system, and set some goals to get you going.
As always, if you want someone to take away the work involved, come and talk to me at Zoe the VA and see what I can do to take your email marketing to the next level.
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