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How To Take Advantage Of Email Marketing

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When running a small business, email marketing is one of the tools you can use in order to not only get new customers to your site, but also encourage past customers to become repeat buyers.

Within many circles, the opinion of email marketing differs considerably. Some believe email marketing is vital for all businesses to generate that constant engagement, while others believe it wastes too much time and resources for the amount of traffic it actually brings through.

To be honest there is no right or wrong answer, the results are different for each business. However, no matter what your business is, there are number of things you can do to give your email campaigns the best chance of being successful not just in one off campaigns, but over a sustained period.

Vary Each Email

While you obviously want to provide your customer base with information regarding the products you have for sale in order to entice them to make a purchase, the types of products and overall content should vary throughout each email to ensure they have the best chance of success.

An email one week could include a look at a certain section of products you have for sale in your store (e.g. shoes, jackets, etc) then the next week you may decide to provide information about the latest offers and promotions you are running.

One of the best ways to vary your email campaigns is to use a topical subject as the theme for your email. For example, as the Tour de France is well underway, you may decide to create a themed email based on this sporting event that will provide customers with information regarding related products that you have for sale in your store.

Keeping your emails varied ensures you appeal to as wide a demographic as possible while also keeping your content fresh and appealing to an audience over a sustained period.

Split Test

In order to squeeze every single open and click you can possibly get out of an email campaign, split testing your email campaigns is an absolute must. Split testing can be based on two areas; the subject line and the actual content of the email.

When you create an email campaign you should create atleast two different types of email content and two different subject headings. The first part you need to determine is the subject heading as, even if you have the best content in your email, if your subject heading isn’t right no one is ever going to see the content as they won’t open the email. Send out two different emails, each with the same content but with two different subject lines. They should each go to around 1-2% of your total mailing list. Leave it for a few hours to give people plenty of time to see the email in their inbox and then look at the analytics for those emails. What you are looking for is the open rate. The email that has the higher open rate will be the best for you to use when sending out to the rest of your mailing list as it is the one that compelled the great number of people to open the email.

Now we have the subject heading, we need to find out what should go in the email. Set up two emails again but this time the actual content within the emails should both different with the subject heading of both being the most popular from the previous split test. Again send each on out to 1-2% of unique people on your mailing list (no one should receive more than one email) and then look at the results after a few hours. This time we are looking at what the click through rate each email has received.

So after all this split testing you will know exactly what is going in the email and on your subject line needs to be in order to give you the highest possible number of opens and clicks through to your website. Now all that’s left to do is send out the finished email to the rest of your mailing list.

Spread Them Out

Just like the content you have within the email, when and how often you send them out is equally important. If you send them out too often, people are just going to get frustrated and consider your emails as spam. This will cause them to either unsubscribe from all future emails you send you or send you a rather heated email.

Also, what you sell dictates when you should send the email out. If you are a B2B business, you will find that sending out your emails during the week will provide the best results as people look at their work emails more during the week while they are at work rather than on the weekend. Alternatively, if you are a B2C business, evenings and weekends are going to be the best time for you to try and reach customers as they are going to be the best periods where customers have free time to look at their emails and browse your store to see the products you sell.

Most businesses tend to send out their emails once a week or even once a month. If you are looking to send out more than they you need to make sure that they are not only diverse in terms of content but also who they are going out to.

This article was written by John Johnston. John is part of the marketing team for Workwear Express, one of the UK’s leading workwear and printed t-shirt suppliers.

About the author: Paper Free Invoices started out as a small blog for my invoicing software business Paper Free Billing but has morphed into something much more useful. I’ve really enjoyed reading the guest articles and speaking with guest publishers so much so I’m always looking for talented bloggers to contribute. If you have any questions or feedback on this article, please find your voice in the comment section, we will try to answer every genuine comment!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • John Maine

    Does email marketing really work? I have read so many articles saying that it does but any time I see an email like that, I don’t even take the time to open it. Most of the time, they go right to my junk email box automatically.

    • I think it does – what you see getting deleted is usually just spam. Email marketing is marketing to people who have given you permission to send you emails (of course double opt ins are very desirable!)

  • Nikolay Nikov

    Based on my personal experience it works but there are some specifics, whuch are as follows:
    1) One e-mail to many offends people rather than insires them to buy your product;
    2) The regularity of sending e-mails is important. It can not be too often;
    3) Anything that looks like spam is damaging for your business and reputation.

  • Phyllis Moore

    Very good tips. I found the split-testing suggestions especially helpful.

    Is there any particular email marketing service you recommend, especially one that is useful to enable that kind of split testing? I’m about to start a mailing list again — I had one several years ago — and I would be curious to know your thoughts on the matter.

    • I’m a big fan of Aweber and MailChimp. They both provide the ability to split test campaigns, and give you detailed information in the administration panel about open rate, and link click through rate etc.

  • sha2814

    These are great tips! When helping a friend start her barber & spa salon – I found email marketing very important. We offered monthly specials on the spa side and weekly deals in the barber room. I found that creating lists based on the services the clients used frequently helped to organize my campaigns. I had one list for massage clients, one for hair clients, and one for those that used all our services. That way, I could send client specific emails – which proved effective on the open rates. I could also add/merge lists when we had something new to offer – that way all our clients stayed informed.