Getting started with email marketing

Email marketing is still one of the most cost effective tools available, right up there with SEO when it comes to building a brand and converting prospects into customers.

But what is the best way to get started? In an era of one-click unsubscribe and a customer base highly attuned to the ways of marketers, how can businesses make the right connection?

Helen Armour, Marketing Manager, Really Simple Systems, provides her five steps to effective email marketing.

Step One – Build the Database

The days of buying a prospect database are long gone – that approach is a fast track to a bad reputation and a mass of unsubscribes.

Instead companies need to actively capture the email addresses of both customers and prospects – pretty much everyone you come across. It is also worth considering creating a single database that combines both sales and marketing information.

In addition to avoiding duplication and errors, a single customer/prospect database makes it much easier to track interactions and provides the sales team with insight into the all past prospect communications – including which emails prompted the lead to click through, and which did not – which can help focus the sales effort.

Step Two – Create the Right Content

Email marketing is not a one off event; it is an opportunity to build a relationship. And that means not bombarding individuals with blatant product sales – that will do nothing to inspire confidence or demonstrate value.

Instead, organisations need to create content that is interesting, insightful and indicates an understanding of the market.

Step Three – Adopt an Email Marketing Tool

An email marketing campaign should be run at least once a month – and attempting to manage all the inevitable email bounces and unsubscribes manually via the existing email client is an administrative nightmare.

Given the range of low cost email marketing tools of the market, such as MailChimp, it is certainly worth investing in a product or service that can automate much of this process – and if it is integrated with the CRM, so much the better, since that ensures the company’s customer/prospect database is also automatically updated.

Step Four – Measure Effectiveness

Email marketing tools provide essential information regarding the success of each email campaign – most notably click through rates (CTR). Combining the email marketing tool with the CRM enables a company to add relevance to that basic CTR information – correlating the number of leads generated and sales closed provides a direct financial ROI figure that can provide really valuable insight into on-going email marketing activity.

Step Five – Increase Sophistication

Once a company has mastered the process of sending relevant, interesting emails perhaps once a month, it is time to start getting more sophisticated. For example, splitting the email campaign between customers and prospects and refining the message accordingly.

If the company has enough insight in the customer database to distinguish between hot and cold prospects, it is also worth considering varying the frequency of the emails – creating a stronger, more frequent relationship with those on the point of purchase, for example.