We talked about Landing Pages in last week’s article. This week, if you haven’t already guessed we’re talking Email Marketing. Being a local business owner, you’re more than likely managing every aspect of your business 24 hours a day. Making sure that the day to day tasks are done doesn’t leave you much time to either consider, let alone implement new marketing channels.
Email Marketing is a great opportunity to reach thousands of qualified customers in one single hit. And the best part is you can do it again the next week. However, you need to put in the hard work upfront. You need to build your list, reach out to people to connect. But the pluses of an email list are endless, with a constant marketing channel to reach your customers.
I know what you’re saying, we’ve all signed up to an email list only to never open any emails, or opened them only to delete them straight away. Which happens, but to be honest, email marketing is about numbers, you’re betting on a percentage of your subscribers reading your emails, and a percentage of them converting into a sale.
Why Do You Need an Email List?
For you as a business owner, the answer is simple. Capturing email addresses provides you with a list of people, who are interested in what your business offers. It’s a list of potential sales, who you can contact passively through email each week.
Let’s say that you have an email list of 1000 if you get even 1% of those subscribers to buy your services or products you’ve gain 10 extra sales. Now, that’s a very low conversion rate, but that’s worst case scenario. Your conversion rate could be higher and some people who read your email might not buy straight away and will convert later. Your email marketing sales could be enough to cover the costs for some of your other marketing tools – like Adwords campaigns, print marketing etc.
How to Start Your Email Newsletter
The first step is finding an email service provider, we recommend trying out:
They are both straight forward and great for those people just starting out. Your email service provider will be the backbone of your campaign, providing you with the tools you need to capture email addresses, send and track your email campaigns.
Create Opt-In Forms
These are the forms that you’ll place on your site. Rather than one form, create several different versions to test. You’ll be able to create these different form within your email service provider. Play around with them until you find one that you think looks best. This could be changing the colours, fonts, etc.
The opt-in forms will be key to building your list. They need to be in the right places to attract readers attention. Play around where you place your opt-in forms. The majority of people add them into the sidebars. But don’t simply be happy with that. Test with putting them into your headers, footers, within the text of some of your articles. Give away a freebie, maybe a PDF full of useful “how to” information or offer a discount code on your services.
Within your opt-in form capture as much information as possible without making it impossible to subscribe. At the very least an email and name.
Create a button. Don’t leave your button as ‘submit’, add something unique. Something that stands out and makes people want to take action. Such as “Subscribe Now for a 50% Discount”.
Test your Opt-in Forms
Before you add any opt-in forms to every part of your site you need to know what happens when someone subscribes.
Does it work they way it should? Does it work at all?
Sign-up through your own opt-in form and go through the process as though you are one of your readers. Make note of any pain points that could be an obstacle to them continuing the sign-up process.
Look at what can be improved upon to make the subscription process easier and at what points you might even be able to pre-sell your products.
Write a Thank You Email
You need to have a customised ‘Thank You’ email for when people confirm their subscription. It helps to cement your bond with the subscriber rather than providing a generic impersonal response.
It lets them know that their subscription process has worked. A customised ‘Thank You’ response can also be your first opportunity to up sell. You can subtly drop a hint like
A customised ‘Thank You’ response can also be your first opportunity to up sell. You can subtly drop a hint like ‘Thanks for subscribing. If you’re interested in our newsletter you’ll love our products’.
Include ways that subscribers can reach you, along with what they can expect from your newsletter – how often they receive emails, the benefits of the emails, etc.
Lastly, add a link to your success page…
Create a Success Page
You may be thinking that this is similar to your thank you email. And it is, but it’s another chance to convert new subscribers into a sale. Create a landing page that you can link to from your thank you email.
In this page you should thank the person again and welcome them to your newsletter subscription. Give them you freebie or incentive. Provide them additional information such as your contact information, articles to start on, along with some related links to your product or services.
If you have an active social media presence, add this to the success page and ask people to follow you. It’ll also help to grow your following on those social media channels, these are list your can also sell to a wider audience, but that’s a topic for another day.
But, don’t overload them with information because you’ll have plenty of other chances to tell them about your business in future emails.
Be sure to ask them to add your email address to their address book so that your future emails don’t get lost in the spam folder.
You Need a Strategy
Think about what content your subscribers will be getting. You don’t want to send out whatever you happen to have for that week.
You want each piece of content to be done for a specific reason, while at the same time making sure that you are not spamming your subscribers with useless information that makes it seem as if you’re only interested in pushing your products – that’s a great way to get your subscribers to put you into their spam filter.
Set yourself a goal for that week, make sure that all of your emails are working towards something. Maybe you have an upcoming sale on a product. Produce content that focuses on the benefits of that product, subtly convince your readers of its importance. So when the sale date comes around and you email your list with information your conversion rate is higher.
Send Yourself a Test Email
As with your opt-in form you need to test your email. And not just a single email, you need to test each email you send out. You want to make sure that everything has turned out the way it appears in the setup. There can be nothing more damaging to your subscription list than sending out an email full of mistakes, wrong links or images and missing text. Your subscribers will think you aren’t putting in the effort so what is the point of staying subscribed.
Split Test Your Emails
Like all forms of your marketing you need to split test your email to get the best conversion rates. Try different headlines. Your audience might like top 10 lists related to your industry. They might be happy to receive promotional deals or they could want full blow industry white papers.
The layout will impact on how people interact with your emails. A buy now button for a product at the very top of the page might convert more than if it is the last thing on your pages.
You might want to have multiple articles and links in the one email, or your audience could respond better to a single article in the one email.
The possibilities are endless and to find the right path for your business and your audience it may take some time. But it’s worth it in the long run because you will have a list of people who you can contact to actively buy you services or products.
*note: once you find the right email formula for converting your readers don’t just leave it at that. People are constantly changing and you’ll have to adapt your email marketing to continually reach a wider audience.
Track Everything to Get Real Insights into What’s Working
Whatever email service you decide to use to get your newsletter out there, make that they have some kind of tracking and analytics. This tracking, in combination with something like Google Analytics, is invaluable. It shows you all the important metrics about what emails were well received, how many were opened and what the click-through-rates were.
You can use these to improve your emails, to increase open rates and conversion. If you’re not analysing the key stats on your emails, you’re simply taking a stab in the dark and you’ll soon find that your email subscription rate, open rate and then your conversion will drop off, which means that your emails are a waste of your time and efforts.
Find Your Ideal Time to Send Emails
Depending on your industry, the content of your emails and your goals, you will have an ideal day that you should email your subscribers. Some days will get you more open rates and click-throughs. You’ll be able to tell this through your analytics and stats.
But to really get the best result you have to go back to split testing. If you are just starting out it’s best to go with an assumption of what day will be best. As your list grows and you have some decent numbers you can try to send out emails on different days over a couple of months using content with similar headlines and content. Once you have a decent mailing list you can divide your list and send different variations of the same email to separate segments of your subscribers over different days.
This will helo you to figure out which times and days are best for converting your readers.
Don’t Focus on One Form of Content
This point is closely related to your split testing, rather than focusing on text email try out different mediums. Your audience could react better to a video or an infographic. Again, test and play around with different formats to get the best results.
But take into consideration where people might be opening your emails. If you use video people might not be able to look it as they are at work or on the train. They could think to view it later but it slips their mind and that email gets lost to the chaos of life.
If you mention how often your email goes out once a week then make sure you stick to that. Once you have locked in the best day and time stick to it. Those subscribers who are invested in you emails will be expecting them each week at that day and time.
The same for sending your emails too much. If you say your email will go out once a month, don’t spam them with emails every two days. You’ll simply annoy people and they’ll unsubscribe or block your emails.
Consistency is a key element to increasing open rates and conversions.
You Will Lose Subscribers
Now to put a dampener on all your hard work, don’t be afraid to lose subscribers, and you will lose subscribers. If you offer an incentive to get subscribers you will have some people who’ll subscribe and simply get your freebie to then unsubscribe.
Don’t despair. Those are the people you don’t need on your list anyway because they will be next to impossible to convert to a sale. Email marketing is about numbers, like a lot of other forms of online marketing. You need high volume to reach the small percentage you can convert into a sale. Those people who leave your list were never going to convert anyway.