Smart Reviews

Email Marketing - Best Practices

Email marketing is a form of marketing and advertising conducted via email messages to potential and existing customers. Emails may provide helpful information or news, or advertise a particular product or service. Messages to existing customers are meant to maintain their loyalty while messages to potential customers are meant to encourage them to become paying customers.

Build Your Email List the Right Way

The first step to building an email marketing campaign is collecting email addresses into a list. Email campaigns should be permission-based, meaning you should have the subscriber’s consent to send an email. People who sign up for your email list are automatically are giving you permission to send them messages. Sending marketing emails without consent is called spam, another word for unsolicited commercial emails.

Sending spam is against the law and can result in your email service being shut down. Not to mention that spam doesn’t help you anyway, it’s counterproductive to send an email to someone who doesn’t want to receive it. You can collect email addresses via a sign-up form on your website or at the time someone makes a purchase. If you’re holding an event in person, you can collect email addresses using a printed sign-up sheet. In each case, make sure it’s clear that they are signing up to receive emails from your company.

Choosing an Email Marketing Service

Once you have an email list, you need a way to manage that list and an easy way to send bulk emails. That’s where email marketing services come in. Companies that provide such services include Aweber, Constant Contact, and Mailchimp. These services provide a special web-based platform that allows you to maintain your email lists, set up special email campaigns and use their services to send emails so you don’t overload your Internet provider’s server.

Some companies specialize in more advanced services than others, but they’re also typically more difficult to use. You should shop around for a service that’s a good fit for your business, your budget, and your skill level.. If you’re an entrepreneur just starting out, you might initially want a free service that allows you to start small until you grow to the point where you have more subscribers.

Play to Email Marketing’s Strengths

The biggest advantage to email marketing is cost: Email marketing is the least expensive way to reach your target audience. Typically, all you need to do is pay an email marketing service, which is available for a low monthly payment. Other common types of marketing are much more costly, including direct mail, print advertising, and media advertising.

  • Direct mail involves preparing brochures or print newsletters and mailing them via the postal system. Although relatively low cost, postage and printing can add up quickly.
  • Print advertising involves preparing an advertisement and paying a newspaper, magazine,  or website to display it for their readers or visitors. It can have a very wide reach but is often not specific to a business’ target audience, and it’s expensive as well.
  • Media advertising involves advertising via radio or television but is prohibitively expensive for most companies.

Done correctly, email marketing can be very successful. It allows you to tailor emails to different segments of your audience and enhances customer loyalty and trust. An effective email message can result in someone taking a desired action, whether it’s to make a purchase, read an article, or register for a course. You can send special offers and exclusive coupons to your customers to encourage them to visit your physical store. Email marketing can benefit you whether you are a solo entrepreneur or you have a small or large business; all you need is a message to send.

Featured Image: Thinkstock/Melpomenem