April 25, 2019

Email Marketing 101


Starting an email newsletter isn't especially difficult if you have a propensity for apps and design. You could start tonight and send tomorrow if you really want to. BUT developing and implementing an email marketing strategy that will serve your business - and your readers - well for the long term requires thought, research and decision-making before touching an app.

This month while preparing to teach a 10-week course on email marketing, I've been updating presentations first created 10 years ago. It's been eye-opening to realize how much has changed. Email remains one of the most effective ways to communicate with our target markets. The tools have become more user-friendly but the strategy part has become more complex. It's no longer as easy as it once was to get the attention of new contacts via email - there's a lot more competition in the inbox.

Over the past month or so I've focused on email marketing strategy. Even if you're not getting started, you might find it useful to have a fresh look at what you're doing.

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originally published in Work Better, Not Harder newsletter April 25, 2019

April 21, 2019

Email Marketing Best Practices: It Depends...


You've finally decided to start doing some email marketing for your small business. There are lots of things you know you need to consider and lots of things you don't know about yet. But you're game and, having finally made the decision, you hop online to do a little research. Because, of course, we can find all the answers to life's mysteries on Google.

You'll quickly find this challenging for two reasons.
  1. There's both good advice and bad advice. Some of the advice online comes from people who are writing from experience but a lot doesn't. Some of it has simply been researched online and rehashed. I could go on and on about the myth of double opt-in.
  2. Even if you are learning from experienced marketers, there's always the caveat - 'it depends'. I find myself saying that often when teaching because - really - there is no magic bullet or secret formula. You need to know what it depends on.
There are some email marketing best practices that would apply to many situations but few that apply to all. That's a good thing because it means we can be unique in how we roll out our strategies. But, without experience, it can be hard to make a few of those big initial decisions on which so much else hangs.

Here's a decision making tree to help you zero in on research and advice more relevant to your situation.

Decision #1: Does your target market include (a) consumers or (b) business people?

If your answer is both, you need two different strategies. Follow through the rest of this process first for one segment and then the other.

This decision impacts list building (initial and ongoing). Marketing to business people can allow for implicit consent (if done right). On the other hand, retail locations have an obvious advantage over, say, consultants when it comes to offline list building. Don't believe everything you've heard or read about the antispam legislation (CASL).

Decision #2: Content marketing or advertising?

Again, if your answer is both, you likely need two different strategies or at least two different campaigns. That way subscribers can choose what they want to receive from you.

Typically selling products is suited to advertising and other types of promotion. Selling services may be more suited to content marketing. This is not a rule of thumb but rather an important distinction that drives many decisions going forward, such as frequency and messaging.

Decision #3: Regular delivery or infrequent?

This is one time that your answer can be both but again you'll want two (or more) different campaigns. For a content marketing strategy to be successful, regular contact is a must. Perhaps not so much for promotional messages; these may often be based on a specific campaign with a start and end date.

It depends...

Making these three key decisions up front will save you time, energy, money and maybe embarrassment. I haven't answered them for you but now you should be able to sort through all the conflicting info online with more success.

Of course, these are all things I discuss at depth with new clients before starting any work. If you're looking for help with your email marketing, you can book a call here.

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April 15, 2019

Proofing Checklist for Error-free Newsletters


Having prepared and sent over a thousand different newsletters, this is what I know to be true: mistakes happen. There are so many opportunities for error that I still cringe inwardly when I click 'publish'.

This checklist gives you an easy way to remember all of the things to check before you click 'publish': Proofing Checklist for Error-free Newsletters

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April 11, 2019

"Why Didn't I Start an Email List Sooner?"

woman using tablet

If you're a small business owner without an email list, at some point your future self is going to think, "Why didn't I start an email list sooner?"

It takes years to build an engaged email audience. If you're successful (and of course, you want to be), at some point you'll have something exciting to tell all your customers and colleagues - past, present and future - and no easy way to do it.

All the reasons to start email marketing can be boiled down to this: an email campaign gives you an audience for your news and information. If you do it well, conversations (and "conversions") will result.

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April 5, 2019

23 Things to Put in Your Small Business Newsletter


All the experts know that email is still king. If you're starting an enewsletter for your small business, figuring out what content you want to put in it might be one of your first challenges. Here's a quick rundown of a variety of different content sections you might include... but don't use them all at once!
  1. Articles by you, including blog posts
  2. Articles by others, or links to articles by others
  3. Quizzes, surveys
  4. How-to’s, tips and tricks, useful tools, resources
  5. FAQs - Did you know…? – fast facts, interesting tidbits
  6. Book reviews, other types of reviews
  7. Interviews
  8. Case studies, client showcase
  9. What’s new…? – of local/industry interest
  10. Testimonial(s)
  11. Product spotlights
  12. Staff/team spotlights
  13. Quotes
  14. Current and future promotions and sales
  15. Promotions for others (with caution)
  16. Events
Content that might stay the same each issue (but don't ignore it):
  1. Website link
  2. Social media links
  3. Contact info and links
  4. Google map (link)
  5. Photo of you/staff/team
  6. Hours of operation
  7. Affiliate/sponsor links

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