Get Started with Email Marketing

Cheap and easy, email marketing is your new best friend when it comes to promoting your business. Wave bye-bye to huge design and printing costs and stop worrying about getting your brochure or leaflet into the hands of a potential client. Instead, say hello to easy-to-use templates and a warm reception from those who opted to be on your mailing list.

But be warned your new best friend can be brutally honest. Unlike a leaflet promotion where you have no idea who has seen it, suddenly you know exactly how many current and prospective clients are ignoring you or worse, actively rejecting you by unsubscribing. But before you look at the statistics for your recent email campaigns and start thinking no one loves you and that you may as well close up shop, let’s have a little heart-to-heart about your email expectations and talk about some ways to improve your strategy.

Let’s Talk Numbers (Eek!)
The biggest battle is getting people to open your email in the first place. There are loads of averages touted by various companies, but the figure tends to hover between 15% and 40% so don’t be too disheartened if at first glance your open rates seem quite low.

So, what sorts of factors affect your open rates? There are loads of variables, but those you can control include:
•Email Database Health
•Email Frequency
•Subject Lines

The Health of your Database
A healthy email database isn’t necessarily about the having masses of contacts (although this is nice), but has more to do with the level of engagement you can derive from the list. An engaged audience is one that will open, interact and show interest in the communications from your business. Sounds like a dream, right?

Well, it’s not impossible. You just need to build your database correctly and be respectful of your contacts’ wants.
• Include only contacts who have asked or agreed to receive emails from your business.
• Be specific about what kinds of emails you plan to send.
• Only send emails that you told contacts about and ask them to opt into any additional email lists. For example, if they signed up for a newsletter and you also want to send them promotions, they should opt into that list separately.
• Include multiple levels of engagement in every email piece. For example, provide a link to a cool video.
• Give them ways to interact with the message and ways to continue the conversation. For example, always include a link to your online booking system so they can act on any offer immediately (or just rebook their usual appointment) and always include links to your social media channels like your your Facebook community, etc.
• Include periodic reasons for engagement such as a sweepstakes to keep them looking for your emails.

Email Frequency
Directly related to your email database health but worth talking about separately, is email frequency. This is one of the number one ‘boo-boos’ for most businesses. No 1 tip – do not bombard clients with emails, or you’ll get them into the habit of automatic deletion or skip-over. Many email systems now have features that will automatically filter out emails that your clients don’t find important, and you could find your numbers slipping even further. Check out Hotmail Sweep for examples.

As a rule of thumb, keep frequency to 8-10 per list and 12 maximum overall per year, with the exception of campaigns with a specific frequency such as a monthly e-newsletter. If you send a lot of promotional emails, though, I’d even caution sending a monthly newsletter. Maybe consider a quarterly newsletter so the volume stays below the obnoxious level.

Compelling Subject Lines
Now to the fun stuff – you need to know how to use your subject lines to get interest in your emails. There are some rules of thumb to follow when creating your subject lines:
•Don’t sell in your subject line
•Be specific about the content of the email
•Keep it under 40 characters
•Use personalization

These are some basics to consider when writing your subject lines, but if you forget everything else, remember this: your recipients don’t care about you; they only care about themselves. So you should be writing subject lines that reflect the individual as much as possible. Easy, huh?

Recent studies have shown that the majority of engagement with emails happens within the first 24 hours, so you have to be pretty persuasive to get that open from them. If you aren’t where you want to be right away, don’t worry – just keep working at nurturing that email database and creating
emails your clients are looking for. Remember, these emails are for them, not you.

Valorie Reavis is an online and social media marketing guru with Linkup Marketing focusing on search engine marketing, salon email marketing programs and social media marketing for salons and spas. If you have any queries for Valorie email her at [email protected].

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