While email marketing sounds like a lot of work, all you really need is time and content. The reality is, you can create email marketing campaigns for fairly cheaply and provided you have someone with time to spare in-house, you don’t have to outsource. If time is a rare commodity, then consider hiring freelance writers and/or a digital marketing agency to oversee the creation and execution of your email marketing campaigns. In either scenario, understanding how an email marketing campaign works from A to Z will help you get the most bang for your buck.
The Best Email Marketing Platform
While there is no “perfect” email marketing platform for everyone, I do often recommend Mailchimp. Why? First of all, for small businesses with an email list of less than 2,000, it is free. You can send up to 12,000 emails/month at no cost. Isn’t that a sweet deal? Second, Mailchimp is very intuitive and easy to use. Anyone can do it; even your 5-year old child. Seriously. This is a huge benefit when you want to bring email marketing in-house and don’t want to hire someone technical to manage it. Third, they have great templates which are easy to brand. Even better? Their templates are responsive, meaning they adapt their format to the device that is viewing them. In an ever-growing mobile world, this is very important. What good is an email if someone can’t even read it on their cell phone or tablet?
Ok I’ve Chosen My Email Marketing Platform, What Next?
Now that you have chosen your email marketing platform and created an account, you need to:
- Add your email list.
- Choose a template and brand it for your company or organization.
- Come up with an attractive headline.
- Create the content for your email.
- Make sure your email complies with the CAN-SPAM act.
- Schedule or send.
Add Your Email List
You should either already have an email list of past and potential clients or you will need to create one. If you have a CRM system, you should be able to export your contacts into an Excel file. Almost all email marketing platforms allow you to import your lists as an Excel or CSV file; it is a quick process.
Choose Your Template
Now that you have added your email list, you will need to create a new email marketing campaign. This starts with choosing a template and branding it accordingly. When picking your template, you should keep in mind the goal of your email. Is this a newsletter that will have multiple links and calls to action? Or is it the purpose of the email to provide a temporary sales discount? Or do you want to direct someone to your latest blog post? Whatever your goal is, pick a template that does not distract from the objective. If you are providing an incentive to purchase, don’t pick a template that has a sidebar and fill it with unrelated content like a link to your About page. You should instead link to products that your users might be interested in buying with your discount code.
Another thing to consider when picking your template is the various devices that users read their emails on. Today, as the smart phone market grows, it is important, if not essential, to have an email template that is mobile-friendly. Mailchimp has a variety of responsive templates; two of which are highlighted below.
Once you have chosen your template, make sure to brand it with your logo, fonts and color scheme.
Come Up With A Headline
The headline is one of the most important parts of your email, if not THE most important aspect. Why? Your headline is going to determine whether or not your email gets opened. And if no one opens your email, well you might as well have not sent it! In order to make your headline stand out from the 100s of emails people get every day, here are a few ideas:
- Be controversial: Are You Mom Enough?
- Use a list: 3 Secrets to Getting The Perfect List Headline Every Time
- Ask a question: Are You Tougher Than A Boyscout?
- How To: How To Make French Toast
- Give a command: Read This Before You Get A Flu Shot
Spend some time coming up with your headline. And make sure that it matches the content of your email; no one likes opening up an email with great headline only to find the content is completely unrelated.
Create The Content For Your Email
Decide on your email’s objective (selling a specific product, directing readers to a new blog post, launching a new service, etc…) and design the content around that goal and that goal only. While written content is important, visuals are also compelling.
Once you have created the content, have a couple people read it. While you may believe that your email addresses the points you want to make and sufficiently directs the reader to the action you want them to take, that may not be the case. An outside and unbiased reader can point out gaps or inconsistencies in your writing. If you are unable to ask someone else’s opinion, put the email aside for a day or two and then come back to it. Looking at something with fresh eyes can present it in a whole new light.
The CAN-SPAM ACT: What You Need To Know
Now that your email is almost ready to go, you need to make sure it complies with all the legal requirements for commercial email. Here’s what you need to know about the CAN-SPAM Act, which defines these rules:
- The sender or reply-to lines cannot be false or misleading, they must accurately identify the person or company who sent the message.
- Email subject lines (or headlines) cannot be deceptive and should reflect the content of the message.
- Your email must include your valid postal address. I recommend including this in the footer of your message (Mailchimp does this automatically for you).
- Include an opt-out option and clearly explain to your readers how they can unsubscribe to avoid getting future emails from you.
- Honor opt-out requests within 10 business days.
There are severe and costly penalties for non-compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act, so do yourself a favor and make sure you aren’t breaking any of these rules before you send your email out.
Schedule and Send Your Email Marketing Campaign
Now that you have completed the above steps, you are ready to send your email! You have two options: you can either send your email right away or you can schedule it for a future date and time. The schedule feature is nice because you can prepare your email marketing campaigns in bulk before you are ready to send them. Once they are scheduled, you don’t have to think about them.
Need assistance creating your first email marketing campaign or have any questions about the steps listed above? Comment below and I will be happy to help you out!