Is it Time to Begin Email Marketing in Your Business? – Birds on the Blog

Is it Time to Begin Email Marketing in Your Business?

According to industry experts, email marketing is still an effective way to engage with your contacts. It should be a vital part of any business marketing toolkit, but which platform is the best?

Not unsurprisingly, there isn’t a simple answer to that question! There are new platforms being brought online all the time, competition is fierce and they all have different features.

If starting with email marketing is so confusing, why bother?

Why not just keep posting to social media instead?

As there should be a different number of marketing pillars in any business, then it’s a good idea to do both! Even better, the information you have sent by email can be re-purposed and posted to social media too!

Social media providers are constantly changing their algorithms and this means it’s really difficult to keep-up, to ensure your posts are being seen. In addition, you don’t control access to your followers and if the social media platform is shut down, or your account is blocked, then you will lose them.

When you email your contacts, you have full control of your list, what updates you send to them and when. These people, your audience, have chosen to give you their email address so are interested in the information you provide. If not, they will unsubscribe! Don’t worry if they do, as you really don’t want subscribers who are not interested in your content and a few engaged followers on your list is much better.

Which email marketing platform is best for my business?

What you need is individual to you, but you do need to identify which features are important for your business and have a goal in-mind. How serious are you about growing your list? Will it be better to choose a paid plan from the outset with all necessary features required to manage many subscribers? This will avoid the necessity to transfer your data from one platform to another at a later date.

A great resource for reviewing the various email marketing applications is the free comparison tool at – https://www.emailtooltester.com

The blog on the Email Tool Tester website provides some comprehensive platform reviews and comparisons too!

What updates should you send to your contacts?

  • What do you like to read?
  • Which newsletters do you enjoy receiving?
  • Which have you unsubscribed from?
  • What do these messages have in common?

If you’re struggling for ideas, then there’s no reason why you can’t learn from others and adapt for your own business, but never plagiarise and copy directly.

You are developing or maintaining a meaningful relationship with your contacts and they trusted you with their email address in exchange for receiving great information and answers to their questions.

Some topics and subjects are:

  • background information about your business and your story
  • a look behind the scenes
  • more in-depth details about the products you sell
  • hints and tips relevant to your services
  • send one useful tip per message
  • ask questions and compile answers from the responses
  • user or product reviews and testimonials
  • what are your favourite apps and reasons why you use them
  • provide a short summary of any articles featured in more detail on your blog
  • issue notifications and links to expert interviews or guest articles
  • create step-by-step tutorials, or a link to instructional videos
  • list articles are popular such as 12 tips to [insert subject here]
  • updates relevant to your sector or profession, especially if due to new legislation etc
  • curated content or a round-up of links to other blogs and articles from the web
  • notices for upcoming holidays, your own, national and public
  • anniversary celebrations and special offer announcements.

Google for ideas, check out the blogs of the various email marketing platforms, or invest in a resource such as Raelyn Tan’s toolkit of 204 ideas for emails: https://happysubscriberstoolkit.com

Keep a record of ideas that either pop into your head, or that you see on other websites. Jot down in a Google doc or note in Trello. Add to a content planning calendar and keep track of your topics, blogs and posts.

How often should I email?

In a recent webinar I watched, the experts stated that daily emails were the best, but personally, I feel that is too much. I’m receiving too many messages, I’ll unsubscribe, but an update each day may work well for you and your business.

Just remember, once you start, you do need to be consistent. Whether sending monthly, weekly or daily, ensure your emails are received on a regular basis. Will a particular day of the week be best for your followers? Do you want to be creative with the subject and (we’ve all seen them), send such as Monday Motivation; Tuesday Tips; Wednesday Words; Thursday Tech or Friday Fun updates etc… What about a weekend update? A particular virtual assistant trainer sends out newsletters on a Saturday as most of her audience are in full-time employment, but with a desire to start a business. Therefore, as her audience are not at work at the weekend, that’s actually the best time to catch their attention and when her subscribers have the opportunity to read emails in their spare time.

How should I structure my emails?

Unless you’re selling products, don’t be tempted to include too many images, certainly no-more than a third of the total space. There are many variables to how the format of emails will be seen, depending on which software has been used to send the message, the recipient email client used (Outlook & Gmail etc) and the device used to view (PC, tablet or phone etc). Some people don’t automatically view pictures upon receipt and manually choose whether to do-so, whilst pics may take too much time to download to a smartphone when not connected to Wifi. Complete the alternative text for all images so the description is visible, even when the image isn’t showing.

A different expert advised that even the header image is unnecessary, especially if just showing a logo. There’s also strong evidence that plain text updates work well too, but avoid over-long messages. Remember that people have a tendency to skim-read so too much text together may be glossed-over.

Use the block builder in your chosen application to create different sections with a headline and short summary. Bullet or numbered points also work well. Change the background colour too to break-up the content segments, but don’t use too many colours for this, or add too much coloured text either, as it can look messy and unprofessional. Maintain continuity by selecting a suitable shade from your brand and one colour for call-to-action hyper-linked text that diverts to an external site. If using buttons, be creative and don’t settle for the default ‘Download’ or ‘Click Here’ text. After sending the message, always check the data and stats to ascertain which links were the most popular and accessed the most.

To avoid your emails being considered as Spam, don’t attach files to the message. Don’t embed videos either, but use a screenshot image of your video and provide a clickable link to external online storage or an appropriate site instead.

Finally, choose a sender name that your readers will recognise, usually your own or business name, and a subject line that piques their interest, without being too salesy or spammy! Producing a good subject line is a science in itself, but the main email providers often cover this topic and provide guidelines in their blogs.

Try a subject line generator such as:

https://sendcheckit.com/email-subject-line-tester

http://www.title-generator.com

What if I don’t have a list of contacts?

We all have to start somewhere, but don’t be tempted to buy a list of emails. As mentioned, you need engaged followers, so a small audience who are interested in you and your business is far better than lots of people who will likely just unsubscribe. Remember too, that as most email marketing platforms charge by the number of contacts, an uninterested list may well be costing you.

Note that to adhere to GDPR, you do need express permission to add a contact to your mailing list. Receiving a business card at a networking meeting doesn’t provide this permission to go home and just add that contact to your audience! You will be sending a personal follow-up message anyway – yes? Therefore, ask if they would like to receive your regular news and updates.

Ensure your chosen email marketing platform integrates with your website and create a newsletter sign-up form to include GDPR permissions. Even-better, produce a lead magnet to encourage people to provide their email address in exchange for a useful digital download. Lead magnets include checklists, FAQs, guides, white-papers and e-books which can quickly be created in Word, Google Docs or Canva, then saved to PDF.

Promote this lead magnet freebie everywhere! On your website, in social media posts and also provide the link in your social media profiles and header images. Spend a little time researching other list-building ideas as many online entrepreneurs provide information, but usually when they’re selling something!

Keeping in touch with your audience

Once your new follower has downloaded their freebie, or signed-up to your newsletter, they will be expecting to hear more from you. Therefore, you need to be consistent in sending regular emails. To begin with, streamline this process and create an initial welcome sequence of a few messages to be sent out automatically, over a few days or weeks, once the sign-up has been made. Then move the contact to your regular newsletter list.

Go for it! Block out some time to compose an email and send it. Or, get-ahead and write a few messages at once, then batch schedule them in your email marketing platform to send at a regular time each week or month.

Good luck – let us know how you get on.

Nancy Benn VA: https://www.nancybenn.com/

About the Author Nancy Benn

As a versatile Virtual Assistant with more than a decade of experience, I help overwhelmed business owners achieve more by assisting with those essential, but time-suck admin tasks that don't directly generate any income or bring in new sales. By providing flexible admin support, I assist and encourage entrepreneurs to focus on doing what they love in their business and what will generate new revenue by identifying tasks that can be delegated and outsourced. Operating virtually, I can work online from anywhere with good Wifi! Initially based on the Notts/Derbys border, since Autumn 2017 I’ve provided seamless assistance and support to entrepreneurs from 12 different homes in Portugal and Spain. After travelling for two years, hubby Rob and I now live next to the Med amongst the orange groves in Valencia, sharing our lives with two dogs and a parrot.