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The Right Message: Craft Your Company's E-mail Campaign (and Keep It on Track)

James O'Brien
(jamesobrien)
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You're in the businesses of reaching out to customers, and a well-run e-mail campaign allows you, the owner, to interact in a personal way with your consumer base. What's more, you can almost always anticipate a positive reception, when it comes to the messages you send, because the recipients have already opted in — they've given you consent and expect you to pitch them.

Still, the conditions under which this happy scenario operates require every owner to approach e-mail campaigns with a measure of care. Here's the upshot of the relationship, from one owner who understands it.

"E-mail marketing is all about permission and trust, building long-term relationships with prospects and customers," said Jeff Kear, owner of Planning Pod. And what builds those relationships? What keeps them solid? Well-timed content, delivered in a consistent and wisely paced way.

With that in mind, let's turn to some best practices that owners like Kear have made their own. The goal is a smart e-mail marketing effort, one that cares for your customers and gives them the kind of sustained and wanted contact they expect from your brand.

  1. A strong campaign starts with solid content. "You should focus on educational content that resonates with your target audience," said Kear. Meaning, tips, strategies, and case studies— all of this is the kind of material your list is likely to welcome. But don't neglect whimsy and inspiration. And remember that a fantastic photo of your brand at work can compel your readers to click through in ways that paragraphs of even the best writing sometimes can't. Point is, content is a kind of conversation and it can vary in terms of type and tone.
  2. Remember that your e-mail is a launch pad. In other words, don't give away all of your content in the e-mail itself. Build your missives so that they prompt a visit to your website, and then make certain they lead to a call to action — all of this aimed, of course, at conversions.
  3. Think about the big picture, write for the single reader. Approximately every day, Jon Rimmerman, founder of Garagiste, sends out a mass e-mail to his company's e-mail list subscribers. In them, he expounds upon the the small-batch wines that Garigiste sells. His messages are well-known for their nature: flush with humor, passion, and a profound sense of Rimmerman's voice. Most importantly, they read like a personal note. That's your goal, too.
  4. Consistency is crucial to e-mail marketing. You'll lose a lot if you fail to keep up momentum. "Many SMBs get on a roll and then get tired of sending out campaigns just when they are taking root," said Zan Jones, a marketing consultant. "In my experience, it takes 9–12 months to start seeing tangible results. Whether you send out weekly, twice a month, or monthly - stay consistent. It's okay to recycle content that is more than a year old — as long as you update it with a current story and repurpose it."
  5. Don't over-deploy! Your customers like to know your brand is there, but they probably don't want to be prompted all the time. "Don't stalk your customers and prospects," said Andrew Marino, founder of MorningStar Media. "Treat your contact list like a mature, responsible adult — with respect and with a message that pertains to them — and accept that your contacts will only get back to you on their timelines." Easy does it, that's a mantra for e-mail marketing.

All five of these points dovetail with numerous other e-mail marketing advice brands should also keep in mind: make your e-mail mobile friendly, A/B test content and approaches before sending en masse, learn your customers from the standpoint of optimal timing for the send.

Starting with these steps, you're focusing on content, consistency, and an integration of message and method. It's an excellent way to begin. Good luck with your campaigns, and keep those subscribers happy!

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