Do you remember hearing that? It’s one of those legendary pieces of Internet history formed when the road was still being paved and we were foraging our way through the wilderness of what was the original World Wide Web.
Although times have changed and AOL no longer sends CD’s in the mail, we can still thank them for introducing us to email and our addiction to it.
These days, we’ve replaced that message with Tweets, likes, and status updates, but that doesn’t mean that our affinity for email is any less. In fact, because of the noise that is social media, one could argue that the inbox has become our virtual dojo, our place of solitude amongst the chaos.
This is why, as an entrepreneur, I believe that building successful email marketing campaigns has never been more important than it is now. But there’s a problem; most people don’t know how to do it right. So in the interest of furthering best practices and helping you succeed as a business owner, let’s get back to the basics and talk about how a great email campaign is built, from the ground up.
You’re in their house
People are inundated with interruption, pitches, and advertisements everywhere they look, and though you might think yours is special, there’s a high probability that to the reader, it looks the same as the rest. This is why it’s important to remember where you are, and use your good manners as a result.
Getting into someone’s inbox is like being invited to their home for dinner. If they ask you to take your shoes off, you respectfully do so. It’s the same with email marketing, so before we begin I’d simply like to remind you to be on your best behavior at all times and remember…you’re in their house.
Phase I: Getting Permission
Of course, no email campaign was ever built without getting permission to get started, so first we’ll need to focus on building a sizable email list.
There are many ways you can do this of course. Some prefer to give something away for free while others simply offer a newsletter or product updates.
I can’t tell you which is the right or wrong answer in this case, but I can tell you that it’s important to have a clear purpose when asking for an address. This is where a strong call to action comes into play, and copywriting is super important.
- What do I get when I give you my email address?
- Are you going to spam me?
- How often will you email me?
- Will I get discounts?
- Will I get a first crack at your beta?
- Will you send me relevant offers or more junk?
These are the kinds of things you’ll need to address if you want to be successful in phase 1. Simply posting “enter your email for updates” isn’t going to get anyone excited to do so. Instead, consider sharing specifics:
This is why the first follow-up email is so crucial to the success of your email marketing efforts. Almost all email service providers give you the option to create an autoresponder sequence, and it’s imperative that you take advantage of it.
The initial follow-up email should be sent immediately as a way to introduce yourself and detail what you plan on doing with your new subscriber’s email address. It’s better to be long-winded and detailed than it is to be quick and unobtrusive, but if you can pull off quick and concise then more power to you.
From here, it’s simply a matter of living up to their expectations.
Using the Autoresponder
As a marketer myself, one of the issues I run into most often is that I forget to talk to my list until I have something to sell. Obviously, this is not ideal.
This is where an autoresponder can save you, and why I recommend scheduling content to be delivered on a consistent basis over the course of several months.
For example, Copyblogger offers a newsletter titled “Internet Marketing for Smart People,” and it contains a dozen plus great pieces on how to market better as an online entrepreneur. I can’t remember when I signed up, but I do know that I’ve received an occasional email at least once per month over the past 6 months.
The benefit of that is when you do need to announce a new product or sale, you can count on the fact that you’ve already been in touch, having built a relationship over several weeks/months, and are much less likely to annoy your readers. Of course, it’s important to schedule your autoresponder sequence on specific days so that you know when you can afford to send an email. More than one per day and you’re probably mailing too much.