5 things to think about before you start an email marketing campaign

Before you start your email marketing

The UK is leaving Europe. Should Theresa May simply shut up shop and leave the EU without planning how trade, freedom of movement and other economic factors will work in future?

Of course not. After all: without a strategy, British business and society post-Brexit simply wouldn’t function.

Email marketing is no different. Salesforce research stats from 2016 show that 80% of marketers see email as core to their business. It’s an affordable, measurable, highly targeted marketing tool with potentially vast rewards. Campaigns must be executed properly to generate ROI, however. With no plan in place, your longer-term campaign results may leave you disappointed.

Here are five things to think about before you hit the ‘send’ button.

What’s the point?

What’s the purpose of your email campaign? Do you have a single, clear goal (with a clear call to action in the email itself) – such as improving retention, increasing sales, generating leads, or raising awareness of what you do? If not, choose one clear aim, rather than a muddeld, catch-all message. The purpose of your campaign should be straightforward, linked to your overall business goals, and measurable. If you can’t measure your performance, how will you know when you’ve achieved success?

Once you’ve defined the purpose of your campaign, think about what winning will look like: not just after your first email has been sent, but after subsequent campaigns three, six and twelve months down the line.

Consistency is king

Consistency and commitment are key to marketing success. Think about the brands you regularly use, both in your work and personal life – why do you use them? No doubt your choice is based on trust, authenticity and convenience.

Take mobile phones, for example. You may have chosen EE as your network provider when you signed your contract, and been perfectly happy with the service they’ve offered. But now your contract’s coming up for renewal, and you’ve just received an email from Tesco Mobile with a great offer that’s too good to turn down. EE, on the other hand, have sent you nothing since your first engagement with them.

This is where commitment comes into play. If a customer has bought from you in the past and been happy, that doesn’t guarantee they’ll buy from you again. Checking up on them, staying in touch and keeping them top of mind could well mean that they’ll keep you top of mind when the time comes. Be consistent: commit to fortnightly or monthly emails to capitalise on your customers’ good experience and keep your brand top of mind.

Craft clear, compelling content

Every single email marketing campaign should offer value to its subscribers. Value is all about first producing content your customers will want to read, and what your business wants to tell them second.

What will your readers get out of opening your email? Does the subject line entice them to open rather than deleting without reading? Are they receiving something exclusive, and something that benefits them?

There are many types of content that you could include in your email marketing campaigns, from subscriber-only offers to free whitepaper downloads. What’s important is that the content is well-thought out, well-crafted and well-written: spelling mistakes and poor English could turn your readers off and could see your email headed for the spam folder.

GDPR is looming

The new EU privacy regulation known as GDPR is on its way: a change that will (despite Brexit) have a significant impact on small businesses who rely on email marketing. It’s never too early to start planning: make the necessary changes to your email marketing efforts now, and you’ll save both time and hassle down the line. Ensuring you have everything in place to encourage organic sign-ups and introducing a double opt-in process will stand you in good stead for GDPR’s arrival – and a high quality subscriber list as a bonus!

Who are you talking to?

Earlier we spoke about mobile phones - we’re assuming you picked yours because of great service, a low price and being able to choose the phone you wanted. We might be wrong, though. And if we’re wrong, there’s no way we could market mobile phones to you in a way that you’d appreciate.

So: how well do you know your audience? And how much of this knowledge is based on assumption as opposed to fact?

Many small businesses fall into the trap of assuming that, because a customer has signed up to receive email communication, they’ll automatically be interested in every single thing the brand has to say. This isn’t the case: rather than talking about what you’re interested in, think about what they’ll be interested in.

There are plenty of ways to do this. Customer surveys will give you feedback straight from the horse’s mouth. Talking to your customers and prospects directly will give you some great content ideas and make them feel special (especially if you promise a prize draw for respondents). Make notes of the questions you hear on a day-to-day basis – chances are, other people will have similar questions too.

Regularly review your email marketing analytics to see which elements of each campaign have given you the results you identified in step one: this will help you improve your campaigns further.

Email marketing needs more than five minutes to pull something together and hit send. Sure, you might get a few opens or a few clicks, but a defined strategy is essential for maximum impact. As with Brexit, proper planning will bring the most positive results for all concerned.

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