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5 Steps to Successful EMail Marketing

5 Steps to Successful EMail Marketing

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5 STEPS to Successful
to Successful E-mail Marketing

Why E-mail marketing is right for your business pg.44 pg.

Strategies for optimizing pg. 16 open rates pg. 6 

About the sponsor…

Microsoft Office Live Small Business is a suite of Internet-based services for small businesses, designed to get you up and running online quickly and easily – all you need is a computer and an Internet connection. Microsoft Office Live Small Business services allow you to create a professional online presence without the expense of buying a server, setting up a complicated infrastructure and hiring technical staff to maintain it. Office Live Small Business includes everything you need to create a professional Web site, including a free domain name (e.g., www.adventure-works.com) easy site design tools (no HTML, required), Web hosting, company-branded E-Mail accounts, online tools to market your site, and even your own intranet site – an online and central space to store documents, customer information and project status. Plus you get simple online applications and tools to better collaborate with customers, employees and business stakeholders. Learn how you can get a free Web site at http://smallbusiness.officelive.com/

“Office Live is one of the most important online products I’ve seen – a very compelling suite of Web services for small business.” –Webware staff, CNET.com, June 2007

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Contents
Intro: Why E-mail marketing Is Right for Your Business .................................4 E-mail is Alive and Growing ................................................................................................ 5 Key Benefits for Your Business .......................................................................................... 5 Step : Learn the Lingo....................................................................................7 HTML and Plain Text Messages ......................................................................................... 7 Opt-in and Unsubscribe Links ............................................................................................ 8 Spam Filters and E-mail Address Books ............................................................................ 8 Purchased Lists and Segmentation .................................................................................... 8 Step : Create Successful E-mail Marketing Messages .................................9 Design It Well and They Will Click .................................................................................... 0 Writing E-mail Copy that Grabs Readers..........................................................................  Step : Choosing an E-mail Service Provider ............................................... What’s an ESP?................................................................................................................ 4 Selecting Your ESP........................................................................................................... 5 Step 4: Strategies for Optimizing Open Rates ..............................................6 How to Improve Your Open Rates .................................................................................... 7 How to Create Effective Subject Lines ............................................................................. 8 Tips for Writing Strong Subject Lines ............................................................................... 8 How to Create Better CTAs for Better CTRs .................................................................... 9 Tips for Writing Strong CTAs ............................................................................................ 9 Step 5: Measuring Success ...........................................................................0 To Measure Results, Know Your Goal ..............................................................................  Use Reporting Tools to Fine-tune Campaigns ..................................................................  Interpreting Report Data ...................................................................................................  Best Practices for Successful E-mail Newsletters .........................................4 Conclusion .....................................................................................................6 Resources ......................................................................................................7

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5 Steps to Successful E-mail Marketing

Introduction: Why E-mail Marketing Is Right for Your Business

If you’re reading this e-book, you’re probably looking for new ways to attract new customers–and maybe build closer relationships with your existing customers too. E-mail marketing can bring you one step closer to achieving those goals. E-mail marketing is one of the most powerful marketing tools available to you. In fact, in a recent study, 54% of small businesses surveyed rated e-mail as the top online promotion mechanism to drive customers to their Web sites and storefronts. (Source: DMA Interactive) More and more small businesses are using e-mail marketing today because it’s an easy, fast, and cost-effective tool for engaging customers and driving sales–and it just plain works. 5 Steps to Successful E-mail Marketing is designed to help small business owners better understand e-mail-marketing basics. It walks you through a series of steps that build your “knowledge base” so that, when you’re done, you’ll be equipped to take advantage of e-mail marketing and its power to grow your business.

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5 Steps to Successful E-mail Marketing

E-mail is Alive and Growing
To understand why e-mail is such a powerful marketing tool, consider some recent research findings: • • • • • A Pew Internet & American Life Project survey found 9% of Internet users between the ages of 8 and 64 send or read e-mail, and an even higher number of users age 65 and older do the same. Marketers responding to a July 007 global survey by McKinsey & Company put e-mail second only to paid keyword search in terms of online marketing success. In the U.S., 88% of adult Internet users have personal e-mail accounts, and 46% have e-mail access at work. Taken together, eMarketer estimates that 47 million people use e-mail almost every day. E-mail volume in the U.S. nearly doubled from .5 trillion in 00 to .7 trillion in 007, and the compound annual growth rate for e-mail is 4.6%, according to eMarketer. More and more business owners are jumping on board. Jupiter Research forecasts that spending on e-mail marketing will grow from $. billion in 007 to $. billion in 0.

You’re probably thinking, “So everyone e-mails, and a lot of companies spend money on e-mail marketing–so what? How can it help my business?” Good question.

Key Benefits for Your Business
Whether it’s a campaign for a new product, or a monthly newsletter, a well-crafted e-mail marketing program can help your business in the following ways: • Attract new customers: A business grows by attracting new customers and increasing sales. But getting new customers is hard work–and expensive. In fact, experts estimate it can be eight to 0 times more expensive to acquire new customers than to sell to existing ones when you factor in the cost of advertising, educating and selling. E-mail is one of the most costeffective ways to attract new customers, generate leads and drive new and repeat sales. Build customer relationships. Another key to growing your business is building strong customer relationships by meeting their specific needs. With e-mail marketing you can segment your customers according to various criteria and deliver customized content that caters to those customers’ preferences. Up-sell and cross-sell products and services. E-mail marketing provides a great opportunity for you to cross- and up-sell your products or services. Let’s say you sell tennis gear on your Web site. A customer purchasing a racket may also be interested in tennis balls, a bag, shoes or other accessories. Using simple e-mail marketing tools, you can easily generate a series of e-mails that will automatically deliver offers for other tennis equipment and clothing to customers who’ve bought a racket.

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5 Steps to Successful E-mail Marketing

Collect valuable customer feedback. You can use e-mail marketing to create a dialog with customers and get valuable feedback about your business, products and/or services. Using tools that track everything from which product pictures customers click to enlarge to where they may have abandoned a shopping cart during the checkout process, it’s possible to use e-mail marketing to fine-tune your efforts, make changes, and give your customers what they really want. Generate high ROI. Probably the greatest benefit of using e-mail marketing is the favorable return on investment (ROI). According to research conducted by the Direct Marketing Association, e-mail marketing generated $5.58 for every $ spent. As such, it outperforms all other direct marketing methods. In fact, e-mail marketing is 0 times more cost-effective than direct mail, and can cost less than a penny per e-mail. Better yet, your ROI can be immediate when the call to action is time-sensitive. CTAs such as “Click here to take advantage of this offer” typically yield responses within 48 hours of the campaign.

What Next?
Convinced yet that e-mail marketing might help your business? We hope so. Let’s now move on and explore how to … • • • • Create successful e-mail marketing messages Increase open rates and avoid spam filters Choose the right technology tools Measure your success E-mail Marketing
E-mail marketing is a great way to drive traffic to your own Web site. If you don’t have a Web site, Microsoft Office Live Small Business can give you one that you can easily customize – for free! Everything you need to grow your business online

But first we’ll cover some basic e-mail marketing concepts and terms that are important to understand.

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5 Steps to Successful E-mail Marketing

Step 1: Learn the Lingo

Here are some important terms and concepts to know before you dive into e-mail marketing.

HTML and Plain Text Messages
These are the two basic formats in which e-mail messages are created and delivered to a recipient’s inbox. An HTML message is built like a Web page. The result is a rich, colorful experience with cool fonts and, most importantly, images. You can create a plain text version of the same message that contains the same text and links, but without the fancy fonts, colors or graphics. HTML messages get higher response rates, but some recipients may for security reasons have their e-mail clients set to display messages in plain text only. That means information contained in images may not be viewable.

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5 Steps to Successful E-mail Marketing

Opt-in and Unsubscribe Links
Referring to an e-mail marketing message as “opt-in” means someone has signed up or indicated they want to receive your messages. For example, if you’re a baseball fan you might sign up to get a weekly newsletter with all the scores and highlights for your team. It is considered a best practice to only send marketing e-mails to customers or contacts who have given you permission to do so. If you elect to send messages to people who have not “opted in,” be sure to include an “unsubscribe” link in the e-mail so they can stop you from sending them more messages in the future. Always have an unsubscribe link in your e-mail marketing messages.

Spam Filters and E-mail Address Books
If you have e-mail, you’re familiar with spam–also known as unsolicited commercial e-mail. Most e-mail service providers use spam filters to help keep unwanted messages from customers. In addition, e-mail programs can also be configured to relegate spam-like messages to a “junk mail” folder where they are automatically deleted. The bottom line: Spam filtering means your e-mail messages–even if the recipient signs up to receive them–may never get read. To combat this, businesses engaged in e-mail marketing often ask their customers to add them to their e-mail address book. This helps ensure the e-mail message ends up in the recipient’s inbox, and has a greater chance of getting opened.

Purchased Lists and Segmentation
Companies that want to create targeted e-mail campaigns often purchase a list with names of individuals or companies–including an e-mail address–that meet specific criteria. List buying has been around for as long as people have been marketing and selling products. Marketers can more closely dial in the type of customers they’re looking for by using segmentation. That means filtering the list by industry, company size, income, zip code, job title, purchase history and so on. In general, the more the information is segmented, the more expensive the list.

Summary
In this step, you learned some basic terms and concepts associated with e-mail marketing. Now let’s move onto best practices for creating e-mail messages.

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5 Steps to Successful E-mail Marketing

Step 2: Create Successful E-mail Marketing Messages

It all starts with your message. Since e-mail marketing has been around for awhile, many companies today now use an accepted set of guidelines, or “best practices,” to create strong e-mail marketing messages. In this step, we’ll go headfirst into these best practices and talk about design principles, providing a consistent and branded look and feel and writing copy that drives action.

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5 Steps to Successful E-mail Marketing

Design It Well and They Will Click
We’ll start with how to design an effective e-mail marketing message. Design in this case refers to how you present your content (text, images, and links) in the e-mail message. Design is important because poor design and bad formatting can frustrate users. If they can’t find the information they want–and find it quickly–they’ll either unsubscribe or just delete the e-mail when it arrives. Don’t be sloppy in this arena; it will immediately undermine your e-mail marketing campaign. Here are the keys to designing effective messages: • Develop a simple layout. Design and layout are crucial to moving your reader through the e-mail. Use an HTML template that provides well-delineated sections. Don’t crowd the design with too much content, imagery, or small text. And don’t use white font on a black background, or other high-contrast combinations. Create a look that promotes your brand. An e-mail message is a cheap and effective way to promote your brand. Incorporate your company’s color palette and look into your messages. Ensure your logo is always prominently displayed in the header, or somewhere near the top of the page. Use images. But do so wisely. If you’re using images of people, remember they can become the “face” of your company. If possible, use photos of real people instead of stock images, which can often seem flat and impersonal. If your message focuses on products, prominently feature them and use high-resolution images. High-quality, well-placed images are proven to increase clicks. Drive action. As a rule, all e-mail messages should be designed to drive action. Success in e-mail marketing is about clicks–getting customers to open the e-mail, read it, and respond by clicking through to your Web site, signing up for a free trial, contacting someone in your business, or forwarding the e-mail to a friend. Include a call to action (CTA) in each section of your e-mail marketing message–and repeat the main CTA throughout the message. Get to the point. Your content should all be relevant and useful–and again drive the reader to take action. People want to quickly “get” what’s being offered. They don’t want to dig around and wait for the punch line. Put all the important information–the offer and call to action–at the top of the message so the recipient can’t miss it. Watch the file size. Make sure your e-mail message is not too big or it might get rejected by some e-mail providers. Some experts suggest keeping the file size under 100 kilobytes (KB). Consider getting help. When it comes to designing HTML e-mail messages, it might be a good idea to work with a designer or e-mail service provider that uses Web-based software to help businesses create custom e-mail marketing messages. Microsoft Office Live Small Business offers a complete Web-based e-mail marketing service as well.

• •

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5 Steps to Successful E-mail Marketing

Writing E-mail Copy that Grabs Readers
Writing effective e-mail copy isn’t as easy as you think. Like poor message design, poor copywriting that has grammatical errors, misspellings, or the wrong tone can kill your e-mail marketing campaign before it has a chance to get off the ground. Here are 0 key tips to writing effective e-mail copy. • Hook ‘em. Your first couple sentences should contain your main message and “hook” the recipient’s attention so they want to keep on reading. If you sell women’s accessories, for instance, you might lead with: “Is your purse so cluttered that it takes 10 minutes to find the pen at the bottom? Then you’ll want to check out our new lineup of spacious handbags.” Back it up. Once the hook is set, spend the rest of the e-mail backing up that message. Don’t wander off in new directions and introduce new messages. The middle and end should reiterate and support the main message and tell people why they should act (click). Keep it short. People are easily overwhelmed by too many words–and they already sift through so many e-mails. The key is to give the reader all the details using as few words as possible. Be succinct, choose your words carefully, and don’t just fill up empty space. Use normal language. Sometimes when people write they come across as formal and impersonal. Before you write the e-mail, imagine you’re having a conversation with someone about the topic. Then try and write it like you’d say it. Stay away from buzzwords or clichés.

E-mail Marketing
Microsoft Office Live Small Business enables you to create professional-looking e-mail messages with its E-Mail Marketing service. No technical expertise is required and you can manage subscriber lists and customize your message so that your campaign can be specific and interesting to recipients. After you send the campaign, you can track how effective it is at generating clicks and page views. Over time, you can assess which types of messages are most effective in influencing your customers, and you can edit your messages to get the best response. E-mail marketing can help you bring your message to your customers quickly and powerfully. Visit http://smallbusiness.officelive.com/ to get started today.

Show who you are. In an e-mail message, it’s entirely appropriate to let your personality come out. Customers are coming to you because you have something to offer. By letting your personality come through, you are able to create a more human, less corporate message– something readers don’t get from the “big guys.” Write for the Web. People scan Web pages–and e-mails that look like Web pages. So it’s a good idea to use benefit-driven headlines and subheads that stand out. Because people scan, repetition is acceptable–if they didn’t catch it the first time, hopefully they will on the second or third try.

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5 Steps to Successful E-mail Marketing

Get active. (As in voice). Try to use an active voice instead of a passive voice. The active voice puts the emphasis on the subject instead of how the subject is being acted upon. It’s a more powerful way to convey information. For example, here’s a passive statement: The most powerful widgets in the country have been built by Contoso. Here’s the same information using the active voice: Contoso builds the most powerful widgets in the country.

Get the right tone. The tone is the tenor or the spirit of the message, conveyed by the style of language used. Earlier we talked about not being too formal; that said, the right tone really depends on the customer and the topic. If your product or service goes out to a technical or academic audience, then you might not lead with humor or irreverent language, but it might come in later. Know the Rule of 3: Most marketing gurus agree, the three most important pieces of real estate in an e-mail marketing message are the subject line, the first line of the e-mail, and the postscript or final line at the end of the message. If people scan the message, these may be the only three lines they read–and if done well, they should be able to glean what they need and still act. Proof it: Make sure you run spell check, and have your message proof read by someone not familiar with the contents. Poor grammar and misspellings can create a negative perception of your business, and you don’t want a small oversight to stymie your success.

Summary
In this step, we looked at best practices for designing and writing messages so that customers find them engaging and easy to read. Next up we’ll look at choosing an e-mail marketing vendor.

Tip: Using the Rule of 
Subject line – It’s a small line that has to work very hard. It should: ) tell the reader what the e-mail is about; 2) convey the benefit of opening the message; and ) not rely on gimmicks or jargon. Avoid terms like “free,” “winner,” “amazing,” and “cash bonus” First line – This line should clearly express the main point of the e-mail, and encourage the reader to delve in further. PS – It’s not necessary to use a post script, per se, but it’s critical that the offer, pitch, or CTA gets restated as the final word.

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5 Steps to Successful E-mail Marketing

Step 3: Choosing an E-mail Service Provider

@

Now that you understand best practices for creating strong e-mail messages, let’s look at some of the technology and services available that make e-mail marketing easier.

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5 Steps to Successful E-mail Marketing

What’s an ESP?
E-mail service providers (ESPs) are companies that–for a fee–enable you to use Web-based software to create e-mail marketing messages. Most also handle delivering messages, managing your customer lists and reporting results. ESPs typically offer a variety of HTML e-mail templates to support your content whether is an offer, newsletter or other type of marketing message. Here’s how it works: Let’s say you want to start a monthly e-mail newsletter for your customers. Working with the ESP’s Web site tools, you choose a template and customize it with your company colors, logo, and other brand elements. You then enter (or paste) your content into the template each month. The ESP creates a finished e-mail product and sends it to you for approval. Once they have your OK, they will automatically send your message to your selected customer list at a scheduled time. There are clear advantages to going this route: • It’s cost-effective. If you have a large customer list, it can be very time-intensive and costly to design your own template (or hiring a designer to do so), write content, scrub and update your customer list, and track the results. Good ESPs make the process cheap and painless. No tech expertise is required. ESPs have the knowledge and technology tools necessary to manage and update lists, generate automatic e-mail responses, do testing, targeting and segmentation, and capture and report all the pertinent data. It’s fast. Web-based tools make it fast and simple to put together an e-mail campaign on the fly. An ESP enables you to get information out to your customer quickly. Other people handle problems. If there’s a technical problem with the delivery, or links don’t work, a good ESP will provide support to keep your campaigns on track. You get advice. Some ESPs offer strategic advice and creative services to help businesses get the results they want from e-mail campaigns. They can help with renting lists, segmenting customers, targeting, and using report results to create ongoing campaigns.

• • •

One of the key benefits to using an ESP is that they will typically manage your customer and distribution lists for you, so you don’t have to rely on methods such as Excel spreadsheets to manage your contacts. On the other hand, e-mails can cost as little as a few cents a pop to send, so if your list is small you could save money if you handle e-mail marketing yourself. Also, e-mails sent using an ESP template can lose some of their personalized touch, and a lot of the e-mail messages can end up with a similar look and feel. That said, it’s important to calculate the time savings and convenience of using an ESP versus cost-savings of sending messages yourself.

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5 Steps to Successful E-mail Marketing

Selecting Your ESP
Before you go hunting for an ESP, first determine what kind of service you need. Are you looking to do a newsletter? Are you planning to do a series of marketing campaigns to launch a new product or service? Is lead-generation your goal? Do you want to capture and link customer information and purchase history with a database? And most importantly, what’s your budget? Once you’ve answered those questions, contact a few vendors to compare the services offered, prices, and success rates. Here’s a list of ESPs to check out:

E-Mail Marketing
One of the most popular and cost-effective ways to market your business
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• •

Create professional-looking e-mail promotions and newsletters Develop your own mailing list and connect with customers to build long-term loyalty

• • • •

iContact Cooler E-mail Constant Contact YesMail

Easy to set up and manage Step-by-step guidance to help get your e-mail campaigns out the door quickly Target the right customers Build and manage your own e-mail list using Contact Manager—add or delete new contacts, import existing lists, and update with ease Track Results Simple, easy-to-use reports tell you how many e-mail messages were sent and delivered, which links generated the most interest, and other helpful information

• eROI
• Silverpop

Summary
In this step we looked at the advantages of using an ESP to create and send e-mail marketing messages. In the next step, we look at things you can do to help ensure your messages get opened by your customers.

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5 Steps to Successful E-mail Marketing

Step 4: Strategies for Optimizing Open Rates

There are many ways to measure the success of an e-mail marketing campaign. But getting your customers to open your message is perhaps the most important. E-mail marketers can track e-mails that get opened and the percentage that do is called the “open rate.” There’s a lot of emphasis placed on the “open rate” in e-mail marketing. But equally important is the “click-through rate,” which is when a reader clicks on a link in the message to take action. In this step we’ll explore key strategies and tactics for increasing your open and click-through rates, and how to test and tweak messages to improve your results.

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5 Steps to Successful E-mail Marketing

How to Improve Your Open Rates
Many factors can influence whether a message gets opened or not–and some of the reasons are well beyond your control. Here are four things you can do: • Create your own marketing list. The best prospects for new products or special offers are your satisfied customers and people who already know you. With an in-house database, you can identify repeat or premium customers and target them with customized offers. Contact Manager, which is included with Microsoft Office Live Small Business, provides an easy way to organize all of your business and personal contacts in one online location. Test, test, test. Before investing in an e-mail campaign that may end up alienating prospects, test your message. First send it to yourself as a test to ensure everything works. Then send it to a test sample of customers. For example, if your list is 5,000 names, send to every 500th name; if 00, send to every 0th name. Not only will this get you feedback on content and offers, but you’ll also learn how well your messages fare on different operating systems, different e-mail clients and different spam filters. Customize your ‘From’ field. Take advantage of customizable ”From” fields in most e-mail delivery systems. For example, if your company is called Contoso, then use a branded e-mail alias like info@contoso.com as the ”From” address. Recipients and their e-mail filters will begin to recognize the name, increasing the odds it will be maintained in their inbox–instead of sent off to the junk folder–and get opened. Be consistent and keep the ”From” field the same over time. Segment your e-mail. If you have more than one e-mail address for your business, (like an alias in the above example) use them to identify which e-mail lists work better. For example, you can use one alias for e-mail messages that go to your customer database and another for messages to third-party rented lists. You can check whether your messages are effective by monitoring whether they are driving visits to your Web site.

Contact Manager
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• Integrate with Office Live Small
Business E-mail Marketing to create e-mail promotions and e-newsletters Need More Reasons? Easy to set up and manage Simple steps for importing and synching existing contacts from Microsoft Office Excel or Microsoft Office Outlook to your Office Live Contact Manager Develop customer relationships Track every contact with customers to maintain a running dialogue throughout the customer lifecycle and send automatic notifications based on triggered events Anywhere access Allows you and your employees to check the status of your accounts and sales opportunities from any location with a Web browser

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5 Steps to Successful E-mail Marketing

How to Create Effective Subject Lines
As a critical factor for achieving good open rates, “subject lines” is a subject that deserves a dedicated discussion. Writing effective subject lines is both a creative exercise and a study in human behavior. When writing subject lines, the greatest danger may be falling prey to your own ideas. If you catch yourself saying things like, “I think that’s funny, I’d open it,” or “Let’s just go with Contoso Newsletter, May 008,” then you could be headed down the wrong path.

Tips for Writing Strong Subject Lines
To keep you on the right path, consider these tips when creating your subject lines: • Shorter is sweeter. Especially in terms of open rates. Subject lines of 5 characters or less had a 4% open rate, while longer ones averaged only a 7% open rate. When you’re succinct, recipients respond better. Make it personal. Try to connect with the recipient personally. General statements have less success. If you know the first name of your recipients, try to use it in the subject line. For example, “Rich, here’s your monthly StartupNation eNewsletter.” Make it enticing. The subject line is really an invitation to open the message because what’s inside can’t be missed! Lose that tone and you’ll get lower open rates. Add urgency. People don’t want to feel like they’re missing out on something. Therefore subject lines that are time sensitive perform better. You can add urgency by using words like, “last day,” “now,” and “ends Friday.” At the same time, don’t sound too “salesy.” Get creative. Find innovative ways to cut through the clutter and stand out–without ending up in the spam filter. With so many companies turning to e-mail, this can be a challenge. Sign up for a bunch of online newsletters and see what kind of subject lines others are using. Test for success. We mentioned testing message content above; here we’re specifically referring to subject line testing. Send messages to an A group and B group using different subject lines for each. Compare open rates. Never use the word “FREE.” This is a sure-fire way to get caught in the jaws of spam filters. Note the word “free” is used with great success in other marketing materials, but not in subject lines. Be aware of CAN-SPAM compliance. Learn what the restrictions are and follow them, otherwise you won’t make it into the inbox at all. Check the FCC Web site (http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/buspubs/canspam.shtm) for requirements for commercial e-mailers.

• • •

• •

• •

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5 Steps to Successful E-mail Marketing

How to Create Better CTAs for Better CTRs
As we’ve discussed, an e-mail message should have a single purpose backed up by a strong call-to-action)(CTA). Your CTA should, in turn, generate a strong click-through rate (CTR). And your CTR is how you make new customers and increase sales. So to review: A strong CTA generates high CTR which generates more customers which generates more sales. So let’s look at how you get this process started–creating a strong call to action.

Tips for Writing Strong CTAs
By definition, a CTA is an offer or invitation to do something–sign up for a free trial, download a how-to guide, enter a contest, answer a survey, or buy. Here are some tips for a better CTA in your e-mails. • Use benefit-driven CTAs. “Click here” to do what? When you remind them what they get when they click, it’s much more powerful. For example: “Click here to start your free trial,” “Click here to learn more,” or “Visit our Web site to sign up.” Think about placement. The CTA should always appear at the top of the message, in the middle after natural breaks in the text, and at the end. You can add the CTA to sidebar promotions and other teasers. Use buttons and text links. Recent surveys suggest that clickable buttons perform better than links in an e-mail. Use a mix of both to increase your click-through rates

In a nutshell, an e-mail campaign with a strong CTA sprinkled throughout the message drives action and increases your click-through rates. The result is higher traffic to your Web site, and ultimately more leads, sales, and higher revenue.

Summary
In this step, we discussed improving your e-mail open rates, tips for writing effective subject lines, and developing stronger CTAs to increase your click-through rates and overall success. Next up: Measuring Success.

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5 Steps to Successful E-mail Marketing

Step 5: Measuring Success

In this final step, we’ll discuss how to interpret and use data to fine-tune your e-mail marketing campaigns. Which data points are the most useful? And how do you leverage that information to make strategic decisions along the way to save time and money? Read on and find out.

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5 Steps to Successful E-mail Marketing

To Measure Results, Know Your Goal
To be effective, your marketing efforts must be strategic. Merely sending an e-mail newsletter full of random information is unlikely to produce results. That is why you want to be sure that every e-mail marketing campaign you launch has a goal so that you’re able to measure the results against the goal. For instance, your goal may be to increase the number of visits to your Web site, or increase sales of a specific product, or convert potential customers into buyers. Although it may be tempting to combine multiple goals into a single campaign, a campaign focused on one goal makes it easier to target the most appropriate customers and achieve the results that you want. Regardless of your specific campaign goal, it’s important to measure your results and use that information to help you plan and execute an effective ongoing e-mail marketing strategy.

Use Reporting Tools to Fine-tune Campaigns
Reporting tools are software that automatically track the activity for your e-mail campaigns. Most e-mail vendors provide basic data reports that you can use to see how well your e-mail performed, and determine what’s working and what isn’t. When looking at the reported data from a campaign, you have to assess whether it reflects something positive or negative. . For example, when you view the number of site visits in a given month, how do you know whether the number is good or bad? Typically, you know because of the trend you see over several months. Similarly, you can compare the report data from the various types of messages you send. Or use report results from previous campaigns to help you improve upcoming marketing efforts. In addition, reporting tools can help you make decisions about: • When to send your e-mails. How do you know the best time of day to send an e-mail marketing campaign or how frequently to send campaigns to the same set of subscribers? Try sending campaigns at different hours and compare the results for each. A solid reporting tool tracks the number of clicks from the campaign message to your site. It should provide information that can help you manage your subscriber lists and measure the relative success of campaigns, such as the number of e-mail replies, bounced messages and recipients who unsubscribed from future messages.

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5 Steps to Successful E-mail Marketing

Use of design elements. Can the colors, fonts, or graphics you use in a message influence the number of clicks the message generates? For example, if you are disappointed by the results of a campaign to advertise an online sale, you may try sending a campaign that includes images of your most popular sale items and then track the results to see whether clicks improve. When you consider which design elements to include in your message, remember that design for its own sake can detract from your message. Good campaign design is about helping the message content shine through. Your best CTAs. What type of call to action do your customers respond more positively to? Is it a time sensitive offer (such as a coupon or sale notice) or a soft sell (such as expert tips)? It may depend on your field of business. If the answer isn’t clear, you may want to send campaigns with different approaches and then use conversion data (reports that show when a visitor took an action on your site, such as making a purchase) to compare results. You can also test effective subject lines in this way.

Note: As effective as comparative data can be, it is important to make thoughtful choices about what type of message content to test. For example, when you send an e-mail marketing campaign about a local event, you may include directions to the event and parking information. Although you could test to see whether attendance drops for events when you do not include directions, why take the risk?

Using E-Mail Marketing Reports
As you see in Chart 1, you can track the number of clicks from the specific e-mail campaign to your site. You can also better manage your subscriber lists and measure the relative success of campaigns, such as the number Chart  of e-mail replies, bounced messages, and recipients who unsubscribed from future messages. You can also use site reports to examine the success of campaigns by viewing several kinds of activity around an event or comparing that same activity for multiple events. As you see in Chart , the Web site usage overview tracks the number of visits, visitors, and conversions over time. Each red marker on the chart represents an important event, such as the date that you send an e-mail marketing campaign. Strategic Decisions Save Time and Money Chart  Strategic planning for your marketing efforts increases the benefits of marketing while reducing the time and cost required. When you use Office Live Small Business E-Mail Marketing and reports together, you have the tools to help you plan like a marketing expert and the time to focus on your true expertise – running your business.

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5 Steps to Successful E-mail Marketing

Interpreting Report Data
Some data that you collect from reports is straightforward. More clicks on a newsletter, more salesor more conversions are clearly positive results. However, some data may not be that simple to read. For example, if your Web page views go up after you send an e-mail marketing campaign, does that mean that your campaign increased customer interest in your site, or that customers cannot find what they need on your pages and are searching? How you interpret the available data can make a big difference in the success of your marketing efforts. Review all the data in a campaign report, and data across multiple reports, to more accurately interpret results. Plan how you can follow the data from one report to the next in order to collect information over time that can help you focus and improve your marketing efforts.

Summary
In this last step, we covered how to use simple reporting tools to measure your success and test and tweak future e-mail marketing campaigns to determine what works best.

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5 Steps to Successful E-mail Marketing

Best Practices for Successful E-mail Newsletters
E-mail newsletters are one of the most popular forms of e-mail marketing. If your marketing budget is tight, an e-mail newsletter is a cost-effective way to reach a lot of customers and generate goodwill toward your business. Compared to using direct mail, sending electronic newsletters will save you time and money and give you a strong return on your investment (ROI). Here are some best practices that are specifically focused on creating successful e-mail newsletters. Build Your Newsletter List One of the crucial steps in creating a successful e-mail newsletter program is to develop ways to collect e-mail addresses. Start by adding a newsletter sign-up function to your Web site. As people sign up, the names should get added to your contact management system. This is a great way to let your site help you acquire leads, as well as collect e-mail addresses. Other ways to capture e-mail addresses include: • • Put a sign-up sheet at point-of-sale locations Add a note to the bottom of invoices soliciting signups

Once you have captured enough e-mail addresses and permissions to make the effort worthwhile, it’s time to think about what you’ll put in your newsletter. Try Soft Sell While the end goal from a marketing perspective is to promote your products and services, e-mail newsletters tend to be most effective with a soft-sell approach. If you offer relevant and topical content that people interested in your products and services would care about, then your newsletter will help establish a bond with your customers. Let’s use a pet food business as an example. The marketing goal is to get folks into the store or to place orders online to buy pet food. But an e-mail newsletter that includes pet care tips, or pet humor interspersed with information on new pet food products ,or special offers is going to be more engaging for the reader. Set Goals Have clear goals for your newsletter. Many businesses and organizations use newsletters to achieve goals such as these: • • • • • • Increase site visits Increase purchases online Announce a new product Give details for an event, including directions and maps Distribute coupons, advertise a sale, or give certain customers a special offer Give tips and tricks–free information that helps build goodwill with customers

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Create a Schedule Decide how often to send your newsletter to subscribers. It depends on your business–monthly, quarterly, or seasonal campaigns work best. You do not want to overwhelm people with information, but sending a newsletter on a regular basis can show your customers that you are committed to them. Also keep in mind that you should only send newsletters to customers who have opted-in or requested them. Quick Do’s and Don’ts Keep this list handy when working on your e-mail newsletter. Do: • Personalize. If you have the recipient’s first name, you can use software to add it to the top of the newsletter, i.e., “Hi Chris! Here’s your monthly newsletter. • Create a clear CTA. As discussed above, make it benefit-driven, and easy to find. • Experiment with link placement. Monthly e-mails are a great way to test the effectiveness of links and content. • Make it easy to make subscription changes. Provide links in your newsletter for recipients to change their e-mail address and even unsubscribe. • Use sweepstakes to increase subscribers. You can run an online sweepstakes and require those entering provide an e-mail address and get automatically enrolled in your newsletter program. • Make HTML and text e-mail content the same. You don’t want to tell one group of subscribers one thing, and another something else. • Use blogs and social networks (Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn) to attract subscribers. Include your newsletter sign up on social networking pages you own. • Provide a newsletter sign up box on your Web site. Place sign up links in several prominent places on your site. Don’t: • Use $$ and !! signs in your subject line. These are red flags for spam filters. • Use ‘FREE’ in subject lines or copy. Spam, gotcha. • Send unsolicited messages. Always give people an opportunity to opt-in. Don’t be a spammer.

Summary
This section looked at best practices for creating an e-mail newsletter program and a quick list of do’s and don’ts to use as a guide.

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Conclusion
After reading this e-book, you should have a pretty good idea of how e-mail marketing works and, we hope, feel empowered to use your new knowledge to effectively promote your business through e-mail. But really, the best way to learn about e-mail marketing is to give it a try. If you’re a Microsoft Office Live Small Business subscriber, you can activate the built-in E-Mail Marketing service with just a couple clicks and get started right away. You get all the tools you need to create and send HTML e-mails, as well as the reports you need to analyze the results of campaigns. And if you think you would like to investigate e-mail marketing a bit more before starting, check out this great resource:
• Office Live Small Business Resource Center

Read how-to articles and expert advice on e-mail marketing

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5 Steps to Successful E-mail Marketing

Resources
E-mail Marketing Solution Providers
• • • • • • iContact Cooler E-mail Constant Contact YesMail eROI Silverpop

CAN–SPAM Compliance
• FCC Website • canspam.shtm

Reporting Tools

StartupNation.com Resources


• Free quotes from E-mail marketing vendors
• Podcast with CEO of iContact regarding best practices in email marketing
• Site analytics

• eGuide: 6 Ways to Maximize Responses from E-mails and Increase Profits

• Seasonal opportunities in email marketing
• Marketing discussion forum

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