How to start your own email marketing program

headerContrary to popular belief, one of the most popular ways to get your message out there is still through email. As the stats show, email marketing is still incredibly effective. These days, it has never been easier to get started, even if you’re a small business – and today this is what we are going to be talking about.

Step 1: Figure out what you need

When it comes to email marketing, the requirements can be broken down into three broad categories:

  1. Legal: In many countries around the world, there are laws that protect consumers against unsolicited spam. Is an unsubscribe button required? That one is probably a good idea anyway, but in the United States list owners are required to have a postal address
  2. Technological: You will be needing an automated system like Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor. Such a system helps you to automate processes such as helping you to build an email list, sending the emails and analytics
  3. Creative: To create the emails, you will need to have an understanding of design and copy or to somebody who does. Granted, it is much easier these days or you can refer to a great resource like Really Good Emails for inspiration


Step 2: Build your email list (wisely)

If there is anything you’d notice about websites over the last 18 months as compared to the previous 18, it would be those pop-up modals that ask for your email address. It has been debated over and over again, on whether the numbers of effectiveness tell the full story. In either case, though, the reason why websites do that is to build up their email lists, which is something you’d have to do as well.

There are many ways to do it, it can be a simple form at the end of a blog post (like ours!) or a gateway access to access a resource on your website. Your tech provider should provide an easy way to copy and paste a snippet of code into the part of your website you want the form to be.

Step 3: Get your message on point

Well, technology might make things easy, the part that faces your subscribers is just as important, if not more so. Whether your email is a success or failure hinges on the actual thing you send to them. As a result, the first thing you should pay special attention to is the subject. The subject is what determines whether your email gets opened when it is one of many dozens (or hundreds) of emails in someone’s mailbox. You may want to test out different titles.

Another nice guideline to follow is to keep your email layout and color consistent with your branding. This builds on your reputation and lends your email trust once the email is opened. Design wise, there probably isn’t a need to get fancy until everything else is in a good state, or if you already are familiar with designing specifically for emails.

When writing your email, always make sure the reader is able to get some value out of it, before encouraging them to take an action such as to read a blog post, or buy a product. Does the email you intend to send give them information on something they are interested in, or give them a short burst of entertainment? That could be a good place to start.

Step 4: Test, Test, Test and Test

Once the first of your emails go out – many of the email systems track important statistics such as open rates and click through rates. This gives you an indication of what is working, and what needs further refinement.

For example, if the open rate does not compare favorability compared to your industry benchmarks, you may want to test out other subject titles – perhaps personalizing it, or giving them a compelling reason to read your email. If click-throughs are the issue, it could be the copy, or the call to action not being strong enough.

Rinse, test, repeat.

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