Sep 15, 2013 • Jessica Jones
With so much emphasis on social media for online marketing it may seem that email marketing has become passe. While it is true that there are a percentage of users who will be more likely to notice your post on Facebook than anything you send out by email - and that yes, there are some users who will delete your email newsletter without reading it even if they signed up to receive it - this is not true of all users. There are still people who prefer not to use social media, and who will only sign up for newsletters that they are actually interested in receiving. Given how easy it is to accomplish an email marketing campaign alongside your other inbound marketing strategies, why not take a little extra time to reach those people?
There are many email newsletter services to choose from: Campaign Monitor is what we use here at Slamdot. MailChimp is another one that we particularly like, and it is especially good for companies just getting started with email marketing because, unlike many other similar services, they offer a membership tier that’s completely free. There are many options, however, and if you’re planning on starting an email marketing campaign choosing the service that’s best for you is an important step. You don’t want to attempt to conduct email marketing right from your inbox. Not only would that be inefficient - email marketing services are optimized for managing large lists and campaigns - but doing so will probably cause your email provider to flag you as a spammer.
Once you’ve created an account and a list on your service of choice, you’ll need to give your customers a way to sign up. Most services will give you links and codes that you can use to add a sign-up option to your website. Make sure that you put this in a prominent place, preferably in a sidebar or footer area that appears on every page of your site. If you are a Slamdot customer this is something we can help you with! If you are on our VIP plan we can set up your mailing list widget as a part of your included VIP time. Otherwise we’ll be glad to give you a quote on the cost of completing the job at our hourly rate.
When everything is set up and you’ve started accumulating subscribers, what should you include in your newsletter, and how often should you send one out? The good news is that if you’re already blogging you’ll be able to use the content from your blog to help fill out your newsletter. While you might not want to simply copy and paste the contents of blog posts into your newsletter you can include blurbs about recent posts along with links that will help drive traffic to your site. For example, “This month several of our employees participated in a charity bowl-a-thon! Check out our blog for pictures and results!”
Summarizing and linking to any blog posts you’ve made since your last newsletter will help you to gather and organize events worth mentioning and will also help to bring users to your site. A person who might not routinely check your blog may take an interest in something you’ve mentioned in your newsletter and click your link for more detail. This not only brings traffic directly to your site - the whole purpose of inbound marketing - but can help boost your SEO if that user then shares your content.
If you’re not keeping a blog (and you should at least consider it) then what do you include in your newsletter? Many of our suggestions on blog topics are also applicable to newsletters, though how you present the information will be different in a newsletter than in a blog. You may not want to send out a newsletter as often as you might post on your blog, for one. There really isn’t any limit to how often you should blog, as users are always visiting your blog voluntarily, but if you send messages to your mailing list every day you may find your subscriber numbers start to dwindle.
Remember that a newsletter should hit the high points and, whenever possible, be action oriented. You want to give your subscribers quality information but you also want to encourage them to do things - visit your website, come to your store for a sale you’ve announced, make a purchase with a coupon you’ve sent them - you want them to participate, not just read. Also remember that you want to keep your most important action items at the top of your newsletter. If you’ve got a link to a page containing information about registering for an event you’re holding, don’t bury that information in the middle! Consider what you want to be the first thing your subscribers see - and what’s most important for them to see if they choose not to scroll down through the entire email. If you choose to include a lengthy article in your newsletter it should be at the bottom, so that any subscribers who choose not to read it will have already encountered the more urgent items.
If you want to learn more about email marketing techniques there is plenty of useful and free information to be found on the internet. Copyblogger.com even offers a free ebook about email marketing. As always, though, don’t let the amount of information out there overwhelm you! Getting started and being consistent is always the most important thing!