Mastering the basics of email marketing

Most of us are fully aware of the fundamentals of email marketing, and can execute an effective campaign pretty well. And when things are going smoothly, many of us stop thinking about how to improve our processes–you know, the old, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality.

But improving your current skills and processes can be the difference between good campaigns and great ones: campaigns that win you lots of new subscribers and even new customers.

Tweaking your basic processes with the following practices can take your email marketing process from good to great, and measurably improve your results.

1. Use a double opt-in process

A double opt-in process usually involves someone submitting an email subscription form, which then generates an automated email requesting that they click a link to confirm their email address. Because of the “extra” step it requires, many email marketers reject the double opt-in tactic out of hand. They think it’s hard enough to get people to sign up for an email list in the first place; asking them to jump through another hoop is just going to ensure that they abandon the subscription process. To some extent, this is true. Many people won’t want to bother with the second step. But consider this: The people who don’t want to go through the second step are probably less committed to your brand or, at least to learning more about you and what you have to offer. So you need to consider: Is it more important to have a larger number of subscribers, or to have a smaller number of better qualified subscribers? Of course, not everyone who is willing to go through the double opt-in process is inherently more interested in your brand, but if clicking a link in an email to confirm their subscription is asking too much, how likely are they to respond to future emails from you?

2. Reward people for joining your list

Give them a freebie! This serves two purposes:

  • to thank them for subscribing
  • to give them a hint of the high-value content to come.

Your freebie could be anything from a free report, article, initial consultation, white paper, video series, coupon… Your choice will depend on what fits best with your business model. Beyond that, you’re only limited by your imagination.

3. Integrate your email campaigns with social media, ads, events and other promotions

Your message can make a greater impact and have a wider reach if people see it in more than one place. So every time you send an email, you should be making corresponding posts on your social media networks (Tip: Include unique links to your landing page(s) for each post, so you can track how many page hits are coming from each source). Depending on your offer, you can also run related ads, promote the offer at live and online events, etc. Something you should always do, though, is give your email subscribers some exclusivity around your offer or promotion. Reward them for their loyalty by giving them early access to new products, services or events, special discounts or other perks that are for email subscribers only. This goes a long way toward reinforcing your relationship with your subscribers, making them feel special, and fostering goodwill.

4. Employ a welcome email series

Many organizations send an automated “thanks for subscribing” message when a new person signs up for their list. However, if this is all you’re doing, you’re missing an opportunity to start building a relationship with your new subscriber right away. In a previous post, I discussed the value of sending welcome emails to new subscribers. You can use them not only to thank your subscriber for joining your list, but to make them aware of other ways to stay in touch (via your social networks, for example), offer them new subscriber discounts or coupons, incentivize them to tell their friends about you, or all of the above. Learn more about why you should be using welcome emails here.

5. Evaluate and test your suppression list process.

If you don’t have a process in place, it’s in your best interest to implement one right away. Along with other email addresses, there are entire domains under the Federal Communications Commission’s wireless domains list that you need to ensure are not receiving emails from you–even by mistake. This isn’t just a process issue, it’s a legal issue.

6. Evaluate your unsubscribe process

If someone unsubscribes from your list, they should not receive another email from you. Full stop. This is not only a good practice, it’s the law (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 [CAN-SPAM]). Remember: missing even one unsubscribe request is a CAN-SPAM violation. And the more complaints you receive, the more your reputation will be damaged. Read more about the importance of reputation here.

7. Review individual roles and security processes

You probably already have policies and processes in place for changes in employee and/or client relationships. Likewise for which employees have access to which customer data files, etc. However, it’s easy for mistakes to happen or for things to get overlooked. It’s worth it to periodically go through your files and processes and revoke access to email accounts for previous employees, delete any unnecessary data files, and review the responsibilities of everyone in your organization.

Implement one or all of these suggestions in your existing email marketing process, and you’ll be on your way to improving the results of your campaigns–as well as providing peace of mind and fewer unwelcome surprises.



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