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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