Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ultimate Email Marketing Guide

Email Marketing

Email Marketing is one of the most important marketing technique for both online and offline businesses. If you have a targeted, and verified email list, opportunities are endless for both marketing and branding purposes.

If you do email marketing the wrong way, and spam people, you might make some quick cash, but it will not help to build a long term business and a brand.

This Ultimate Email Marketing Guide will walk you through how to create a steady and increasing income with internet's one of the best marketing technique; Email Marketing.

Email Marketing Cycle

10 Steps for Successful Email Marketing

We have divided the content into 10 Steps to make your job easier. You will find 10 Steps of Basics for Successful Email Marketing.

If you do these steps right, you will have a successful email marketing list which will keep increasing your profits and branding value.

1) Plan Your Email Marketing Strategy

Before you start working on your first email marketing campaign, you need a solid plan.

The most important part of the email marketing game is choosing the right email newsletter software. There are so many options out there, both hosted and offline. Some of them are only for beginners, some of them are enterprise solutions. So, which email newsletter solution is right for you?

1. What are your goals?. Write down your goals for your email marketing campaign. Will you focus your current customers? Will it be for your popular blog? Or will you start a brand new list to market?

2. Plan your budget. Now you have your goals setup, it is time to plan for your budget. Your costs will be; Email newsletter software, copywriting (free if you write), email template design (free if you design).

3. Choose the Software You Will Use. There are many solutions out there. There is not a "Best Email Marketing Solution" in the market. Each solution has its pros and cons. Some of them are only for beginners, and some of them are enterprise type. Here's a great Comparison Chart for Top 5 Email Marketing Solutions. All of these 5 solutions have free trials, take your time, give each of them a try and choose the best one for your needs and budget. These 5 companies are the most respected ones in the market currently. But if one of these solutions don't do the work for you, search google for other alternatives.

Email Marketing Flow Chart

2) Start Building Your Email List
You have three options when it comes to building an email list;

* Buying an email list
* Renting an email list
* Creating your own email list

Keep in mind, our goal in this ultimate guide is to guide you through building a long term, successful email marketing business. Therefore, we will highly suggest you start building your own list from stratch.

Here's a great article on How to Build a Successful Email List.

Segmentation in Email Lists

This is an important topic usually skipped when creating an email list. Depending on your business or website, segmentation might increase your ROI tremendously. Here's a quick example:

Website www.travelwebsiteA.com decides to create an email newsletter, and puts an email newsletter signup form on their site asking for first name, and email address. When they launch their first newsletter, they run a great offer/advertising for their customers who live in the US.

They receive a terrible response and a low ROI, and they get discouraged with email marketing. 85% of the people who signed up to the newsletter resides outside the US. Therefore they didn't receive great response.

If they have segmented their newsletter geographically, they'd have a great success by only sending this newsletter/offer to the members who live in the USA.

If you are creative, you can come up with many other segmentation options for your newsletter, such as product categories, hobbies, etc.

Segmentation Options for Your List:

* Asking questions at the signup form. This options sounds great, but many people don't want to answer many questions just to signup to your newsletter. Keep your signup form as short as possible.
* Doing surveys, and segmenting your list later on. This is the optimal solution. It will need little more work, but you will succeed in the long term.

List Segmentation Example

3) Write Your First Email Newsletter

Are you good at writing? You might be a great online marketing person, but suck at copywriting. Copywriting an email newsletter is not that hard, but it might get tricky. If you don't trust your skills, hire a copywriter. But if you do, keep these in mind:

* Don't write boring. Boring copywrite = No Reads.
* Never send only marketing promotion + Ads. Put yourself in your reader's position. Make them want to read your newsletter, so offer unique tips, resources, even short how to articles related to your topic.
* Be consistent with your writing tone. If your first newsletter has a very professional and corporate language, you have to keep it consistent. If it is humor, your readers are waiting to read more humor sytle in the next one. If it is a personal blog's list, and the language is personal, keep it personal and friendly with the next newsletters. Being consistent with your tone of writing is the key to long term success.

If you decide to hire a copywriter, there are many individuals out there like Ivan Levison who specialize in email copywriting. You can also check out freelancing sites for cheaper alternatives.

4) Design Your Email Newsletter Template
Most email marketing solutions offer free html templates integrated into their system. If you will design your own template, we highly recommend starting with one of these templates in your software and customizing it.

Because designing an HTML Email Template is different than designing a regular webpage. There are many issues with images, and CSS due to different types of email clients.

You do not want all of the gmail users in your list not to be able to see/read the most important part of your email, do you?

Either start with one of the free templates and customize it accordingly, or purchase a customized professional email template service. OnMarketer's Custom Email Templates are known as the best ones in the market, and they are pretty affordable. There are so many other options out there, just google "custom email templates".

Always remember to keep your corporate identity (or personal blog's identity) consistent with your email newsletter template. If your website's main colors are red, black and white, your customers will feel more comfortable receiving a newsletter with your company logo, and red, black, white colored theme template. Your corporate identity should be consistent for your branding, and long term marketing goals.

5) Distribute Your Email Newsletter

You have planned your email marketing strategy, setup your language tone, written your first newsletter, and designed a great newsletter template.

It is time to distribute your first newsletter. Here are some tips:

1. Decide when you will send it. This mostly varies by your list profile. If your list contains 13-18 years old high school kids, never send it during school hours. If it is professionals, I wouldn't send it monday morning. You know, how busy it gets monday mornings. Use some judgement, do some research. When you start doing A/B testing, you will find the optimum day of the week, and optimum time of the day for your newsletter to go.

2. Title is the key to higher success. I receive so many emails every day, and don't even open most of them. I check the titles first, if it is appearing to me, then I click on it. Here's a great tip for you: Always add customization to the title (e.g. hi _name_ , here's your weekly newsletter from ...). Also, do A/B testing. We usually write 3-4 different titles for the same email newsletter campaign and send them to a sample group of readers from our list. We check the open rates, click through rates, and pick the best working title for distribution to the main list. If you start doing testing, you will surprised how much titles might change the opening rates for your newsletters.

You have decided the best time of the week, and have done the A/B testing for your titles, then it is time to distribute your newsletter. This is the best part. You can keep watching the live stats if your software supports, and see the people opening the emails, and clicking the links.

6) Check Reports & Stats for Your Campaign

Most of the email marketing solutions support detailed reporting and statistics for your newsletter campaigns.

You should take a close look to your reports. Some of the key factors to consider which will help you optimize your next campaigns:

* Which links were clicked more?
* What types of coupons and promotions are more effective?
* Which titles are clicked more often.
* What is the exact time of the day when your readers check your newsletter most? (remember to pick the best time, and distribute your next newsletter at this exact time.)

If you take a close look to your reporting and stats after each campaign, it will help you optimize your next campaign.

7) Optimize Your Newsletter & A/B Test Continuously

You have sent your first newsletter, and you have some great stats about it. It is time to start thinking about what to optimize for your next newsletter.

Optimize Your Newsletter

Also, always keep in mind that there might be many other options, tricks you haven't used in your previous newsletters. So, keep reading authority sites for continuously optimizing your newsletter.

Here's a quick example: One study show that, email newsletter campaign for an ecommerce store which has a "Visit My Account" link/logo in the newsletter itself has a higher conversion rate than a one without this link. This was an interesting find for us when we first discovered. Then we started adding "Visit My Account" logos to our newsletters, we were surprised with the high click rate. There are so many tips on optimizing your newsletters online. So always read the updated materials.

Always A/B Test

We have mentioned the importance of A/B testing. Even changing your company's corporate logo's location in the template might increase/decrease your click through rates. A/B testing is not only about design, copywriting, or CTR's (click through rates). If you are offering coupons, you might want to try several different coupons, A/B test them, and see the real ROI numbers. You will be surprised when you see the increase in ROI with minor changes to your coupons.

There are so many things to A/B test, so keep doing A/B testing continuously.

8) Monetize Your Email List

What is the main goal of an email marketing campaign or any type of marketing campaign?


So, keep the monetization part always in your mind. With a high volume, and a niche targeted email list, you can monetize your campaigns in many different ways.

Here are some tips on monetizing your email lists:

1. Selling your own products.

2. Selling advertisement space on your newsletters.
3. Adding affiliate links targeted to your readers.
4. Selling survey space for other companies (yes, many companies will pay top $$ for a survey offered to your list if it is targeted to their niche)

There are many other ways on monetizing your email list. Just be creative :)

9) Survey Your Readers

Surveying your readers will definitely help you optimize your upcoming campaigns, and offer them what they really want.

Many email marketing softwares comes with email surveying integrated. But if the solution you've picked doesn't have a surveying option, don't worry. There's an easy and FREE way to add professional surveys to your email campaigns by using Goodle Documents.

Here is a video of adding free surveys to your campaigns. In this video, the solution used is Aweber, but you don't have to use Aweber (By the way, one of the solutions we use is Aweber, and we highly recommend it if you do a lot of autoresponders). Just understand the first part clearly (creating surveys with Google Documents), and apply the second part to your own solution.

10) Read, Learn and Appy New Email Marketing Techniques

When you are doing marketing, especially online marketing, you have to be creative, read all the possible updates about your niche, learn them quickly and apply them to your projects before your competition.

This is the only way being ahead of your competition, and a great online marketer. With this "Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing" report, you have the basics of email marketing, and it is your turn to read more, learn more and apply all of these techniques into your projects.