In today’s digital environment, there are hundreds of tools to engage your community on dozens of platforms. Email might not be the sexiest, but it is undergoing a renaissance as it has consistently been rated as one of the most effective tools in the digital toolbox. Today we’re going to discuss how you can get started with an effective email program.
Why is Email still relevant?
The first and probably most important question to answer is why email? What makes it a channel that should not be ignored?
While there are lots of advice to the contrary, as much as 80% of smartphone users still check their email within 15 minutes of waking up. A different (and more recent) study also found that 98% of respondents check an email account receiving marketing/advertising emails at least once a day.
Furthermore, over 75% of these people bought products and services at least once a month as a result of these emails. Granted, sales may vary product to product, but it is undeniable that an email is an effective form of communication.
So here is how to get started.
Capturing email and building your list
The first thing you’d want to do is to get subscribers. The best way to do it is to provide value first, and then ask them to sign up. You could even give them an ebook or resource download when to encourage sign ups. The important part is first providing value – this ensures that the people who sign up are genuinely interested in what you have to say.
The easiest way to do this is to include a form – which you can do from our Website Builder or a tool like Contact Form 7, a popular WordPress plugin. Generally we recommend that you keep the information you capture to a minimum. This makes it easy for people to sign up. Once the first person signs up, you’re in business!
Automate with tools like MailChimp or Campaign Monitor
If you’re ready to take the next step up, you may want to consider using an email automation service like MailChimp or Campaign Monitor. These give you access to advanced features like tracking, segmenting and analytics. You can also automate emails from an RSS feed or when a user takes an action.
Campaign Monitor is a paid product, but Mail Chimp has a free version that limits you to the number of subscribers and emails you can send. They both charge on a basis of number of subscribers with email limits, so that’s another reason not to buy a list off the internet but instead focus on people who are most relevant.
Watch Your Tone
Bear in mind that subscribers find your content useful and want more. Treat them as though they are someone you know personally and with respect. Your tone should reflect that and can be less formal while still remaining helpful. Mail Chimp has a fantastic guide with how they approach their customers you can refer to.
Make sure your email looks great on mobile devices
These days, up to two-thirds of all emails are read on a mobile device. It is thus crucial that reading your email is a good mobile experience. Pictures should scale down nicely; buttons (if any) should be large enough to be pressed with a finger. Copy should be kept sharp and your audience should be able to enjoy your email quickly.
When in doubt, you probably would want to send test emails to yourself to confirm how it looks.
Be aware of the regulations in your country
Finally, there are different laws in place around the world and you should comply. Some would include:
- Marking your email subject with <ADV>
- Including a unsubscribe link in the header or footer
- Having the reason a person is receiving the email
These are also best practice to ensure a good user experience.
While email marketing/automation is a much deeper subject that cannot be covered by a single blog post. This should be enough to get you exploring and building and engaging with your subscriber base.