Hooray, you’ve been collecting customer email addresses! That’s fantastic! Now what?
Before loading all your customer emails into a mailing list and firing away, consider what you have at stake – brand reputation, penalties for not adhering to best practices, and, in general, a high risk of doing damage to your Email Marketing program before you even really get started.
First Things First –
Develop An Email Marketing Strategy
TIP: Develop your Email Marketing Strategy BEFORE selecting an email service provider. It may help to think of this initial Email Marketing Strategy as a wish list that you can reference when researching email service provider options. Believe me, this will save the pains of moving your email file later!
Begin with a 5 year time frame (or 3 if 5 is too daunting) – Set your Email Marketing goals (for at least the first year) and brainstorm as many types of emails as you think you may want to send, plus some. Also, keep in mind how you will measure the performance of your email campaigns and how you will utilize reporting to build a more robust Email Marketing program.
Set Email Marketing Goals: Setting goals is an essential first step in your strategy as every subsequent element of your plan will hinge on whether or not it is helping meet them. Depending on where Email Marketing falls in the grand scheme of your organization’s marketing plan, your goals may range anywhere from simply opening up the Email channel as a means of communication with your customers to growing your subscriber list to increasing revenues – or all of these and more.
Brainstorm Specifics about Email Campaigns: Make as many notes as possible about the types of messages you want to send. Some questions that may be helpful:
- What types of messages do I want to send? – personalized, informative, marketing, press releases, etc. Consider your audience as well as whether you will send plain text or html or graphic-heavy messages.
- With what frequency will I send emails? – Keep in mind you may later choose to add options to allow recipients to specify how often they want to hear from you.
- How will I segment my list? – Advanced email segmentation takes time, so initially, it can help to reference what segmentation you are already using for “offline” customers.
- Do I want emails with dynamic content? – Emails based on past purchases, interests, etc. can be very powerful and receive great response. My advice? This is definitely something worth looking into, even if it is not something you want to do immediately.
- Do I want to send triggered email messages? – Automatically generated emails from your website or backend system triggered by customer actions.
Remember that your Email Marketing Strategy will evolve over time, so if you miss something, you can always add it later. Asking basic questions will get you started in brainstorming, but do not forget that analysis of key metrics and testing will also need to be built into your plan.
Email Analytics: To determine your key metrics, ask what you want to know about how recipients interact with your emails – even beyond opens and clicks – and consider how you might use that information to determine which aspects of your Email Marketing Program are working and which need adjustment.
Testing: Testing goes hand in hand with analytics, helping you hone in on successes and push poor performers aside. When putting together your Email Marketing Strategy, make note of what you feel would be worth testing, then determine the types of tests that make sense for your email list and its segments (ex. A/B subject line or content split tests).
Do you have tips on how to build an Email Marketing Strategy? Feel free to leave a comment below.
Questions about developing your Email Marketing Strategy or anything mentioned in this post? Click Here Now to contact me.
A seagull eating a starfish smells like: “Tidelands, driftwood, downy bird musk, and the gingery spike of starfish terror.”
Thanks to ZOMGsmells.com, I am now aware of this… and the fact that seagulls really do eat starfish. This unfortunate seagull snacking preference and the suggestion of its associated fragrance got my attention. Quirky worked to draw me in. I quickly found myself lingering on the ZOMGsmells.com website, looking around for the next odd thing to catch my eye, and I didn’t have to look far…
ZOMGsmells.com sells unique fragrance blends, each curiously named. Aside from the alluring scent of Seagull Eating a Starfish, I found gems such as: Coronal Mass Ejection, Kudzu Doom, Spacebat, Candy Mechanic, Baby Gorgon Birthday Party, and many more. Each name just begged to be clicked to figure out what the heck that could possibly smell like.
Upon clicking through on each name, I was rewarded with a humorous little backstory and image, along with a very specific description of the scent (the oils included, etc.). Win! Quirky worked to keep me browsing, increasing the time I stayed on the site.
Now, the big question: Will quirky work to make me buy? Quite possibly… we shall see. I could at least sample a “squee” or three. (But, even though it got my attention, I probably won’t go with Seagull Eating a Starfish. I wouldn’t want to wander around my coastal home smelling of starfish terror. I might get swarmed.)
And, on that note, I leave you with a bit of my YouTube research:
Can you prove your brand is not just another bland one in the sea of mass marketing?
Today’s consumers are more knowledgable than ever before, and no wonder… they’re used to sifting through tons of false marketing ploys.
How does your brand measure up? Is your brand:
Consumers are so overwhelmed these days with brands pitching everything from “green initiatives” to “new and improved.” If your brand is pitching, it better have the proof to back it up. Can you illustrate the ways you’re “going green” to your customer? Can you show how this product is “new and improved” over the product it replaces? Give the customer a believable story to back up your claims.
Does your brand represent a niche market? Is it strikingly similar to others? If niche is your realm, then good for you – you’re unique! If not, you have work to do. What makes your brand (let’s say Brand A), any more worthy of purchase than Brand B? Tell customers precisely why they should purchase – cost? quality? performance? Again, you must explain PRECISELY WHY the customer should purchase your brand over another.
Do you love your brand? Of course you do, else it wouldn’t exist, right? Conveying the brand’s own history and stories breathes life into what might otherwise be a bland, faceless product or service. This is a vital part of illustrating the value of your brand. Find your brand’s core values and explain them to your customers in a way that they can relate.
Are customers invited to actively participate in making your brand a success? Seems like a no-brainer, but still some companies are afraid to let their customers’ voices be heard. If you believe your brand is worth it, let the customers provide feedback, reviews, and ratings. You can learn more than you’d ever imagine about your customer and just how to reach them effectively by doing so.
5. True to its consumer?
Lastly, but most importantly… Putting the customer first in all brand-related decisions is always a must. It’s not just “give the customer what she wants,” but “would the customer perceive this as a value-add to her experience with the brand?” No clue if something is a value-add? Customer surveys are an excellent way to find out!