You have decided you'll start using e-mail marketing for your small business or non-profit but you're not sure how to go about it. Read this post, the first in a two-part series. This week we look at how fundamentals of personal social interaction works even in the context of an email marketing campaign. Next week we look at various e-mail service providers.
So think of your e-mail marketing campaign as if it was you at this awesome happening Christmas party your friend invited you to. You really want to network and interact but you don't know anyone. So what's your plan of action?
Introductions: The From Label
Your friend introduces you to a few people at the party before she disappears into the crowd. As you meet with various people you say your name followed with a smile and a firm handshake. Not your street address or phone number or e-mail. Your name is a lot more memorable than any of those things.
So also in terms of an e-mail campaign, make sure that your name clearly stands out. The "From Label" is the first thing a recipient sees in their Inbox to figure out who the email is from. This should be who you are and not just the email address. For instance, if your business name is say, Rocking Cupcakes, then make sure your from label reads "Rocking Cupcakes" and not "firstname.lastname@example.org" or some other obscure label like "Info" or "Contact".
Conversation Ice Breakers: The Subject Line
After the introduction and handshake, you say something interesting to get the other person engaged and to get the conversation going before you launch into perhaps a deeper discussion.
That conversational ice breaker is your subject line.
Make it compelling and pithy so that it gives them a reason to open the e-mail. Also don't repeat the from label in the subject line and use up valuable real estate. Avoid using all caps, exclamation points and words that may flag your e-mail as spam. And test, test and test e-mail subject lines to see what works and what doesn't.
All Gussied Up: Template Design
The way you look and dress at the party will, like it or not, impact how people interact with you. So make sure you dress sharp, look good and put your best foot forward. The likelihood of people reacting positively to you are a lot higher than you in a crushed shirt, a five o'clock shadow and flip flops.
Likewise make sure your e-mails look great, professional and are a true reflection of your small business or non-profit brand including your logo, image styles, colors and fonts. Again, make sure you test them in various email platforms and these days even on popular mobile device platforms. Nothing says don't read me as a sloppy or clunky looking email.
Right Words to the Right People: Segment and Personalize
The smart and well read person you are, you strike up interesting conversations with various individuals you make your way through the room. You laugh about the Apple Maps fiasco while celebrating the Google Maps app on your iPhone with the technophile. With the jocks you reminisce about the 1975 Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach's "Hail Mary" game-winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Drew Pearson against the Vikings. Suggest VC options to the 20 something year old from Palo Alto who believes his startup is the next "disruptive game changer" after a Michael Arrington blog post mention, talk Salman Rushdie's latest book with the English Professor and finally agree with this pretty young thing who hated Skyfall and thinks that Pierce Brosnan was the best Bond ever!
In e-mail marketing terms, you just segmented your list and personalized the right message to the right audience. If you don't do that then the audience that your message doesn't resonate with, will unsubscribe. Think about how much less exciting your evening might have been if you were talking football with the pretty young thing or VC funding with the Professor (no offense to PYTs and Profs)! So for long term and sustainable e-mail marketing success make sure that your e-mail subscribers are tagged and categorized correctly. That way you can segment them and personalize your email messages so that they are relevant to them.
Speaking of personalization, also personalize how you greet your subscribers and sign-off in the body of the email. A "Hi Jane" or "Dear Jane" and a "Regards, John" or "Thanks, John" makes the email conversion a whole lot more personally engaging than just a general content without that.
Whose Party Will you Attend: Selecting an E-mail Service Provider
There are loads of service providers. Some of the popular ones, in no particular order, are AWeber, MailChimp, VerticalResponse, Constant Contact and emma. All of these service providers generally do a great job with standard e-mail marketing features like pre-designed templates, list management options, social media integration, deliverability guarantees, sign-up forms and more. However we'll be back with part two of this blog post where we examine these service providers in greater detail along with comparative pricing.
In summary for this week, regardless of the tool the most important thing to remember is that fundamentals of personal human interactions are live and well and should apply to any email marketing campaign.
Till then happy holidays, party on and keep your emailing campaigns going!
Aby Varma is web technology, social media and online marketing professional. He helps small businesses and non-profits with digital marketing services under ClickSteer.com and can be reached on Twitter @ClickSteer. He lives in Atlanta with his family. He is a foodie and enjoys stand-up comedy and documentaries.