Building customer relationships through email campaigns can be automated affordably.
By Mark Swartz
Online marketing is getting more sophisticated. Take email campaigns. Sending out bulk messages blindly is passé. Spam blockers and anti-spam laws make that approach a no go.
These days, permission-based sends and targeted mailings are compulsory. So is conforming to Canada’s privacy laws on gathering personal information. Read on for more email marketing best practices.
The Essence Of Email Marketing
Sending out targeted messages to receptive customers: that’s the core of email marketing strategy. It can be an effective part of an integrated social media program.
There are three essential actions you want message recipients to take.
1. Open the email message in a timely manner
2. Read enough of the content to understand the offer
3. Respond quickly to the “call for action”
Create An Initial Mailing List
The foundation of email marketing is a good list of possible recipients. It should contain (at a minimum) the name and current email address of each receiver.
Gather email addresses from all of your company’s existing contacts. Customers, suppliers, investors…everyone counts. Mine your business Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts for additional connections.
Input the data into a single spreadsheet. This will serve as your ongoing master list. Think of it as part of your marketing intelligence toolkit.
Add More Contacts
Do you need more possible recipients? Why not advertise on your website. You could ask visitors to sign up for a newsletter. Offer small incentives in exchange. A coupon, discount, free weekly tips, or contest usually does the trick.
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Request basic demographic details while you’re at it. Gender, age group, city, current/recent/past customer, areas of interest etc. These details will aid you in the next step.
Segment Your List For Targeting
To boost response rates, emails should be targeted to receptive audiences. Segmenting your list into different sub-groups enables this. Use the gathered demographic data to sort contacts.
For instance, one sub-group might include only customers in a particular city who’ve already dealt with your business. Another sub-list could be potential customers who haven’t bought from you yet.
Get Permission And Respect Privacy
Digital marketing experts agree the most effective email campaigns are based on permission marketing. In Canada it’s mandatory to follow this route. CASL (Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation) applies. So ask recipients, and those who sign up for your newsletter, if it’s ok to send occasional emails about products or their areas of interest.
Protecting privacy is also the law. PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) sets out rules for how Canada’s private sector and federal organizations may collect, use or disclose personal information in the course of commercial activities.
How many recipients opened the email you sent? Which ones unsubscribed from your list, and why? These are a few of the metrics to look at in a campaign.
Knowing the results with accuracy lets you do test runs to fine-tune your marketing. Note click rates and the number of undelivered messages. Who’s forwarding your emails to whom?
Simplify With An Automated Email Marketing Service
Get professional outcomes without being an expert. Affordable email marketing services can automate most of the process. They’re among the many available resources for small to medium business owners.
Providers such as Constant Contact or MailChimp offer tiered services. They can segment your lists and send an onboarding series to introduce new subscribers to your business. Automatic follow-ups can be directed based on recipient behaviour. Point and click templates are supplied to design campaigns. Numeric analysis of results is part of the package too.