For many start-ups, marketing is an after-thought. They have limited resources and those are most likely to go first to other areas such as product development. Some start-ups feel marketing is not necessary because they have not achieved the scale to accommodate more business. But if you want to grow your business, you have to market your services. If your resources are tight and you lack the time to do it yourself, the best option is to outsource your marketing.
Email marketing is a terrific way to engage with your leads and existing customers, update them on promotions, new features and more. It is a powerful tool that enables you to cost-effectively communicate with your target audience where they are almost all day long - their inbox.
With email marketing, you can generate sales, move leads through the sales cycle, build an awareness for your brand and create customer loyalty.
People are online all the time you say, so why not stick to social media? A report by McKinsey showed that email is almost 40 times (!!!) more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined in helping a business acquire new customers.
Also, 90% of email gets delivered to a recipient’s inbox, while only 2% of your Facebook fans see your posts in their News Feed. This number declines steadily and now even more with Facebook's recent announcement to show more friends posts than brands and publishers.
And the cherry on top? email, unlike social media ads, is something you can do completely for free.
So when should you start using email marketing?
tl;dr - now
Start by building a list. The people on the list can come from various leads: signup forms on your site, call-to-action buttons on your Facebook page and more. It can also be a list that you buy (careful with that though 😉 and check out Gary Vee's thoughts about it in the video below).
Use email marketing to meet the goals you set in your marketing plan and as part of a broader marketing campaign.
Which tool to use?
When starting to send emails, you can either use one of the email marketing tools or continue to use your Gmail (or Google Apps account), and couple it with email tracking tools.
Using your Gmail is a quick fix as it doesn't require you to sign up or pay for any service. However, before sending hundreds of emails, note the possibility of being blacklisted by Google as a spammer.
Another issue with using Gmail is that tracking email openings can be tricky. There are tools to track openings like Hubspot’s SideKick Chrome extension, MixMax, YesWare, but the free versions of these tools will only work in tracking emails sent to 1 person at a time.
Meaning, if you send an email to 20 recipients in BCC, you will not know who opened the email, just that someone opened it.
I recommend using an email marketing tool from the start rather than waiting for your email volumes to rise, as these tools can also serve as your initial client database.
When choosing a service, one of the critical factors is that it is known to have a minimal bounce rate. You do not want to use a tool that will start sending your emails to spam folders.
OK, so you started building your list and chose a tool to send the emails. Now what?
Here are the top 4 best practices for a successful email marketing campaign:
1) Set an email marketing schedule
emails should be sent out regularly to make an impact and keep the people on the list engaged. That doesn't mean you need to send a daily email, but try creating a feasible schedule and stick to it. Create an email and content schedule for the next X emails to keep up with your marketing plan.
2) Set your goals before pressing the "send" button
What are you looking to achieve from the email campaign: Invite people to an event? Send out a promo code? Get traction to your blog? Convert registered clients to paid ones?
Like any marketing campaign and plan, it's vital to set the goals of what you are looking to achieve from the campaign before starting it.
3) Tailor your content
Tailor your content in two ways: first, if you have several lists that differ in nature, define what differentiates them and fine-tune a different email to each one. Second, personalize your emails -if you captured more than the email information about a recipient (name etc), use this information to personalize the email.
4) Make it engaging - both text and images
Everyone's inbox is packed and getting someone to open your email is a tough task as you compete with many others emails. Test your subject line with tools like Coschedule or Sharethrough. Then, as opening the email is just half of the work, make sure the images in your email are in hi-res and in the right size. A sloppy email looks unprofessional and chances it'll be ignored increase.
See what Gary Vee thinks of email marketing and buying a list