• In the right hands,

email

    is probably the most cost-effective marketing tool yet invented. It is especially powerful in a B2B context. An effective email marketing campaign allows you to communicate with your prospects and clients at a fraction of conventional advertising. It will drive traffic to your website, enable you to track visitor activity, fine-tune conversion and allow you to calculate your ROI with pinpoint precision – fast! Yet despite this, so many would-be e-marketers fall at the first fence due to having the wrong approach and the wrong tools. Here are four vital first steps to get you off to a flying start.

 

Step 1 – Get a good email management system

    You’ll almost certainly be familiar, at least in principle, with this invaluable piece of software. An email management system is an essential tool for any e-marketer. It enables you to develop an entire sequence of personalised emails and programme them to fire at pre-determined dates and times. It not only enables you to communicate with your prospects and clients, it allows you to place your email operation on virtual autopilot – automate subscribe and unsubscribe requests, deliver downloadable e-books and documents, thank customers after their visit, and manage tracking and reporting, as well as monitoring conversion rates and other critical metrics. If you’re running an online business, you can also integrate a shopping cart to take payments by credit card and PayPal.
    A word of advice: when selecting an email management system, be certain to find one that allows you to use unrestricted data. Some popular email programmes will only allow you to upload opt-in lists and restrict the use of third party data. This limits your flexibility and freedom to work with the data of your choice.

Step 2 – Build your list

    Your list is the lifeblood of your marketing operation. But how do you go about building one?
    1. The fact is there is no single way to build an

email list

    . Rather, it’s an organic, multi-stranded process that can include gathering data by any number of methods including email capture on your website, pay-per-click, e-zines, social and business networking, press releases, etc. ALL of these and more work as list building methods, but, of course, they take time.
    One of the fastest and most cost-effective ways of obtaining data is to purchase it from a legitimate data provider. The quality of purchased data lists varies wildly between suppliers, so make sure you’re aware of the limitations of your bought-in lists. Good data providers are able to supply lists of qualified, up-to-date email addresses of named key decision makers which exactly match your audience and objectives.
    Your email management system enables you to subdivide your lists so that you can target prospects and customers with new products and offers based on their online and purchasing behaviours. You can also track your email click-through rate and even see the times your customers click on links in emails. Combine this with Google Analytics and you can also examine browsing behaviour. Once you know which pages people visit, what they click on and what they ignore, you can target subsequent emails with greater accuracy. It’s all in the fine tuning; even small adjustments in approach can result in a significant impact on conversion. The more you find out about your customers’ behaviour, the more effectively you can target them.

Step 3 – Build relationships

    Once you’ve begun building your list, you need to think about how you communicate with your prospects. An email list is a fragile asset, if you offend people with poor quality content, over-sell or peddle hype, people will simply unsubscribe or delete your emails and the valuable list that you’ve spent so much time building will quickly implode before your eyes. Delivering quality material will help you establish a rapport of trust in the early days of the relationship that will pay-off further down the line. A prospect needs to be won over. Remember you’re on trial.

Step 4 – Be in it for the long haul

    Finally, be aware that email marketing is a long-term investment. Bombarding people with sales pitches in the hope of making a ‘quick hit’ is a road to failure. Typically, a recipient is likely to receive anything from seven to ten emails on a given subject before taking action. Just because they didn’t buy from you on their first visit, doesn’t mean they won’t become paying customers in the future – be it weeks, months or even years down the line. Be patient, because when you win a customer they will potentially be yours for life. Think strategically. Think relationships. And do not expect instant results.
    Over the coming weeks and months I’ll be exploring the areas discussed above in greater depth, as well as taking a critical look at all things cutting-edge in the world of direct marketing.
    1. Bear in mind also that if you’re busy running a business and can’t find the time or resources to get to grips with setting up and running your own

email marketing campaigns

    , it’s a cost-effective step to ask a professional provider to do it for you.

Related Topics: Email Marketing