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E-mail your way to increased business

E-mail marketing—delivering professional e-mail communications to an interested audience who finds theFibre Opticalinformation valuable—is the most cost-effective way to generate customer loyalty. It results in repeat business and stimulates word-of-mouth publicity about your business.

Kristin Doakes

Kristin Doakes

“It also allows you to create a relationship with your customers that will help your business succeed,” Kristin Doakes, president/CEO of High 5 Productions and a certified Constant Contact expert, told a recent Knowledge Is Power workshop. “Most importantly, e-mail marketing is permission-based (as opposed to unsolicited spam). This means when customers or prospects give you their e-mail address, you are marketing to someone who is genuinely interested in what you have to offer—no guesswork involved.”

But, to get the results from your e-mail marketing program, you need to use the best practices available. Doakes shared some of those practices:

Use an ESP

Using an e-mail service provider (ESP), such as Constant Contact, automates best practices by providing easy-to-use templates, so you can create professional communications.

You use your logo, colors, and fonts that are consistent with your Web site and other marketing materials, so your brand identity is reinforced. With an ESP, the e-mail is addressed to the recipient only. That means a string of other e-mail addresses is not exposed and you don’t have to blind-copy mass addresses. A reputable provider improves e-mail delivery, tracks results, and obeys spam laws—including removal from your e-mail list.

When someone wants to be removed from your e-mail list, the best practice is to remove them immediately and permanently. An ESP can automatically handle unsubscribe requests by placing an unsubscribe link in every e-mail.

Build your e-mail list

As you begin to build your list, think quality over quantity. Consider the different places where you interact with customers and potential customers and set-up a way to capture their e-mail addresses at each touch point. Here are a few ideas to build your list:

• Include a newsletter sign-up box on your Web site.

• When people call your business, ask them if you can e-mail them messages about specials, offers, and sales promotions.

• Place an e-mail-capture book by your register or check out point. Consider showing a printed version of the latest e-newsletter so customers know what they’re signing up for

• When attending networking events or trade shows, ask contacts if you can add them to your list.

• Hold an e-mail-capture contest. Get your employees, staff, or volunteers involved by offering a prize to the person who’s collected the most e-mail addresses from customers, clients, or members. Reward them with a day off, a gift certificate, a free meal, or a cash bonus!

• Convert your ESP archive into a Web page. Then link to this page from your Web site or social media outlets. It will give people a peek into your business and all that you offer your customers.

Note: Whenever you capture an e-mail address, be sure to get explicit permission to e-mail. One of the best ways to do this is with a return e-mail that contains a confirmation link.

Create engaging content

Content is always king in any type of cyber communications. When it comes to creating content for your e-mail communications, build an open dialogue with your customers and write about things they’re interested in.

Allow customers to communicate with you about what they like and dislike or changes they recommend. Address the popular topics in your newsletter; your customers will be glad to know you’re listening to them.

Be sure to keep communications brief; include only essential information in the e-mail itself. Use bullet points whenever possible. This creates a “quick read” for recipients. Consider initiating a call to action such as a link to your Web site or to a blog to read a full article or your online store to purchase products.

Identify yourself

The “from” line is one of the most important parts of your e-mail communication. Sixty percent of consumers say they open e-mail only if they recognize who it is from. Always identify yourself in some way that your audience will recognize you—by brand, your name, or your company’s name.

Take care with your subject line

Just as the “from” line is important, so is the “subject” line. If you get too “cute,” your e-mail may land in a spam filter. Not enough compelling information and the reader will not open the e-mail, even if your name is recognized.

Keep the subject line short—about five to eight words maximum. Spell everything correctly; capitalize and punctuate carefully. (Don’t overdo exclamation marks.) Incorporate an immediate benefit into this line.

Avoid “spam-speak.” That is, don’t use the words “guarantee,” “free,” “or credit card” in the subject line. (To learn which words to avoid using in the subject line, study the e-mails in your spam filter.)

Measure your results

Use an ESP that has reporting tools to measure the results of your campaign. E-mail reports should show you how many, and which, contacts opened an e-mail, clicked on specific links, forwarded an e-mail, unsubscribed, or did not receive the e-mail. You can monitor your e-mail’s results over time to evaluate your performance and determine strategies to improve your e-mail marketing results.

If you need help getting started with an e-mail marketing campaign using an ESP, interpreting results, or strategizing ways to improve your campaign, call an e-mail marketing expert.

Kristin Doakes is the president/CEO at High 5 Productions (www.High5Productions.com), a full service design and marketing company. She can be contacted at Kristin@High5Productions.com or 904-527-1119.

SIDEBAR

How often should you e-mail?

The basic rule of e-mailing is wanting to achieve maximum impact with minimum intrusion.

Newsletters often follow a monthly schedule; promotions, as needed. It is best to create a plan and then follow it. Recipients will then know when to expect communications from you.

Your ESP should be able to provide statistics for you concerning the time when e-mail is opened, and which days have a better opening rate. Assess these statistics and schedule accordingly. For many industries, Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. are good times to send e-communications.


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