A client recently asked: Do you guys do email marketing? I have a database of about 15K existing customers which I would like to start doing a monthly or semi monthly marketing campaign to.
Our response: We have not conducted large scale email campaigns for clients, but we have provided consultation to clients regarding email campaign strategy.
Here are a few pointers I’d throw out to you:
1. Effective email marketing is difficult, more so now than ever before; excessive email or that which does not interest the recipient = spam and that characterization by hundreds or even fewer of your past customers can hurt your domain, blacklist your email server and even result in fines that can cripple your company
2. Done right, an email marketing campaign which works involves:
a. Speed: you’ve got to connect right away; nothing annoys people more than out of the blue receiving a sales email from a company they purchased from a month or more ago.
b. Personalized Automation: you’ve got to craft specific series of emails targeting specific interests; then have the emails automatically delivered once a week until the series is completed; when person B buys a product and signs up for the email, the auto responder begins the series specifically for person B. Person A, who purchased two weeks ago, is already on email 3 of the same series.
c. Creativity: helpful, interesting articles with product soft sells or brand recognition; pushy sales email have a high probability of being tagged “spam” and you can’t afford that
d. Recipient Controllable: simple opt in/opt out, change the frequency, or even choose an email topic – all options that can be chosen by the recipient
e. Clear, Up Front Sign Up: don’t send marketing emails by default; instead, have a section during checkout where a person checks “Yes” if they want to receive biweekly or monthly emails from your company. Let them know that they can easily stop the emails at any time. Promote the emails as offering helpful tips, and you’ll see a much higher sign up rate. Again, keep the pushy sales speak to a minimum. It is far more important, with email campaigns, to establish your company as a reputable, helpful source for information. Build the brand right and people will turn to you when they shop later.
f. Double Opt In: If you have a simple “sign up for our newsletter” box throughout your website, be sure to use that along with double opt in measures so that if a person enters their email address, a confirmation email is sent to them and they have to click on a link to confirm/verify; if they don’t confirm, no further emails will be sent.
If you do plan to start off a campaign using the 15K email addresses you currently have (which I would be hesitant to do myself if I were you), then I would recommend the following:
1. Email everyone with a basic email thanking them for their past purchase and asking them if they are interested in signing up for an informational monthly email you will be starting. Assure them that you will not email them again if they choose not to. Within the email, have a link or form that they can submit if they are interested in signing up.
2. For those who do respond, you’ll want to have the first email go out to them fairly soon (24 to 72 hours); don’t wait too long, or else they’ll forget they signed up for it and classify the first email as spam
3. You might get a better response rate if you offer them 3 options (3 different subjects along the lines of the services you offer) to choose from.
If you’re looking for a relatively simple do it yourself solution, www.aweber.com has a powerful auto responder and it is quite affordable, too, in comparison with many of the other programs available. iContact.com is also a very affordable program that also has an auto responder system.