I tell each and everyone of my clients to start an email newsletter and database if they haven’t already. It’s so important and the most powerful tool to grow your business. Why? Your database is owned by you! It’s not renting likes or followers on platforms like Facebook or Twitter but it’s an asset that you own and grow to add value to your business. So get started and ask your customers for their email address, but make sure you treat it with the respect it deserves. Unlike social media, you own your email database and you can send messages directly to your customers’ inbox. If they’re anything like you and me, they’ll be checking their inbox daily so there’s a good chance that your email will be seen by the people who have signed up to receive information.
Not sure how to get started? I’ll walk you through some steps to help you on your way:
1. Choose an Email Marketing Platform
Some companies just start out using their own personal email account to bulk email customers, but this is bad for a number of reasons:
1. It slows down your email program
2. You email provider doesn’t actually like you doing it, and your email might be seen as spam and not be delivered
3. It’s difficult to manage permissions and unsubscriptions
4. You don’t know who has opened and read your email, or if they’ve clicked on any links
5. It’s hard to make it look as pretty and visually appealing as an email marketing platform newsletter
Now that you’re convinced that it’s really worth signing up to a proper email marketing platform, let’s look at what that means for your business.
An email marketing platform has features that automatically manages your subscribers, your unsubscribers, reporting and things like providing you with a code for a signup form for your website (like at the top of this website), and prompting automatic signup email responses. Your email marketing platform can handle managing your email list so you don’t need to import it from other programs, which is super efficient!
There are many free and low cost options for email marketing platforms, that are all hosted on the web and easy to use. Below you’ll find a list of popular platforms especially suited to small businesses starting out in email marketing:
Personally, I use MailChimp, because I have very limited technical knowledge. I have managed to find my way around the setup tools, MailChimp has a great set of templates and examples and the instructions are easy to follow.
2. Ask for permission and make subscribing easy
Firstly, make sure you have permission to send emails to your customers. Never, ever send email marketing unless you have ‘opt in’ permission (mailchimp will look after this for you) and then protect those email addresses with your life. Don’t use them to send messages other than what your community signed up for and never sell them or share them with others. Also always include an unsubscribe button, your community has to be able to leave when they want to. Email marketing platforms will look after this for you. There are strict laws governing email marketing and you need to make sure that your business complies. (Let’s be honest, we can all put ourselves in our customers shoes… we don’t like spammy emails either and we all want to trust companies to keep our valuable email addresses safe.)
To start building your list, make sure you have a sign up box on your website (like the one at the top of this website), your Facebook page and a signup pad or an iPad with the Chimpadeedoo app on your store counter.
3. Say hello and send a welcome email
Send your new email subscribers a friendly hello and email to confirm their subscription, welcome them to your newsletter and give them some idea of the types of things you’ll be sending their way. You might also consider using your welcome email as an opportunity to send them a freebie or promotion to thank them for joining. It’s likely you’ll be able to automate this process, just check with your email marketing platform.
4. Create an email marketing calendar
Like with any new marketing initiative, it’s best to put some time into it and focus to get it started properly. What I find really helpful is using an email marketing calendar to start mapping out content and a regular schedule. You can schedule content ahead and I find it helpful to prepare content for a few weeks/months and schedule newsletters so I don’t have to focus on them for a while and I can go back to sourcing content for the next few months.
Start with what you can manage
Time is precious to every business owner and it is important that you start with what you can manage. It might only be one email once a month, but that’s better than nothing. When you start seeing results, you’ll be able to see the value in spending more time on your email marketing.
Be clear about its purpose
Don’t send an email just for the sake of sending one. Define your message and provide a reason for people to get excited about what you’re sending them. As with any marketing material, always include a call to action, such as ‘call us to book’, ‘make an appointment’ or ‘buy now’.
Send emails regularly and timely
Think about major events that impact your business that you could focus on with email marketing. Events such as Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, new season arrivals, and periodic sales. Highlight your events on a calendar and start creating content for each event. It is also important to send your emails regularly and at a specific time rather than at random, this way your subscribers will come to expect your news and many will be looking forward to hearing from you on Tuesday morning. People like consistency 😉