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7 Step Email Marketing Guide For Beginners

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Why e-mail marketing?

We wanted to send our latest offer to some potential clients. We had only their e-mail ID’s which we had acquired from an associate. And so we decided to send them e-mails. At least that’s what happened in our case. Having absolutely no clue on how to proceed, we researched on-line on how to send and decided to go with MailChimp as they were offering their service for free for the number of e-mails we wanted to send. It was an easy process and the analytics we got thereafter was very exciting to see. Not that our numbers were good, as barely 8 people had viewed our mailers. The excitement came from the fact that we could get instant data like this! We had no clue on what to do after that. So we just kept sending the same e-mail over and over again for the next couple of weeks, hoping that by sending frequently, we were improving the chances of people opening our mailers. It got to a point where nobody was even viewing our mailers. The problem was that while very basic research on how to start an e-mail campaign was done, there was absolutely no awareness at our end of how e-mail marketing worked on the whole. Which brings us to the question, why e-mail marketing? Here are a few reasons why you should be considering making e-mail marketing an integral part of your overall marketing plan.

Advantages over conventional marketing platforms-
  • The investment required to send out an e-mail campaign is very minimal and in some cases free depending on the number of people and the frequency of e-mails you want to send
  • Instant data which helps in optimizing conversions, by profiling and re-targeting the audience
  • Fastest way to reach out to customers at every step in their buying process
Advantages over other on-line platforms –
  • More reach than social media
  • If you want to send personalized e-mails to your audience, e-mail marketing does it better than other on-line platforms
  • Content creation is less time consuming as frequency is lesser than other on-line platforms
  • Unlike other on-line platforms where the rules and privacy settings are ever changing, the way e-mails have been sent for the last 10 years have more or less remained the same, making it a very stable platform

When our understanding on e-mail marketing grew, we were in for a couple of shocks. The First one being, if most of our mails had bounced then MailChimp would have frozen our account within half an hour. Secondly, if the potential clients to whom we had sent the mailers repeatedly had reported us as spam, then we could have got our domain black listed. Ironically we were lucky that most people had ignored our mails! The following steps will help you avoid having such close shaves as it was in our case.

1) Ground work before starting your first campaign –

  • Ensure that you at least have a website set up before sending out any e-mail campaigns and preferably also set up other social media accounts as well. By setting all these up you will be able to engage your target audience in giving you their contact details. Also by adding hyper-links in your e-mails to your website and other social media accounts, you will not just be making your audience aware of your on-line presence, but at the same time also adding more credibility to your company.
  • Set up an e-mail account with an e-mail client. E-mail clients are those which you use to access your e-mails eg. Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo etc. Don’t use personal e-mails like ‘yourname@gmail.com’. Always send from your corporate e-mail ID’s like ‘yourname@companydomain’ or ‘sales@companydomain’.
  • If you are sending huge bulk mails or your e-mail list is bought from somebody else, it is better to create another domain only for sending mails. This will protect your company’s domain from getting blacklisted. This method is used by Flipkart, Amazon and most such companies who regularly send massive bulk mails.

2) Getting the e-mail list ready-

Before you start sending out your first e-mail campaign, you need a list of e-mails belonging to people who fall in your target group.

Data collection:

To attract the right target group, create content in your on-line and offline marketing efforts that will attract the audience you seek. Once you get their attention try and get them to give you their contact info, at the very least their e-mail ID’s, by offering them access to more information, discounts or invites to events.

On-line:
  • Subscribe to newsletters
  • Fill a form in contact us
  • Register for webinars
  • Register for freebies and discounts
Offline:
  • Surveys
  • Seminars
  • Shows
  • Lucky draw
  • Coupons

If data collection is taking some time, you can tie up with other companies and create mutually benefiting campaigns. The other company will then send e-mails to their mailing list promoting both your companies. In such cases, the other company will not share their mailing list with you. While this can boost your traffic temporarily, create your own database to fully utilize the potential of e-mail marketing.

You can buy e-mail lists from other companies. However most of the companies don’t share or sell such data. You also run the risk of getting black listed if the information is from an unreliable source.

Data cleansing:

Once the data is gathered, go through the list and remove ID’s like ‘abc@hotmail.com’. After each round of sending, check your bounce rate. There are 2 types of bounces. Hard bounce and soft bounce. Remove the ID’s from your list which are under hard bounce. Include the soft bounce ID’s in the next round. If it still results in a soft bounce, remove the ID’s from your list. Services like MailChimp automatically remove ID’s which have hard bounced. Nevertheless keep an eye out for them.

Data segmentation:

Once the data is collected and cleaned, segregate the data by gender, age, location or any other parameter of your preference. You can further segregate the data after each campaign based on the response, purchase history etc. This will help you in sending specific messages to different groups.

3) How to send-

You can create your own infrastructure or send bulk mails through your e-mail client. However e-mail clients restrict the number of e-mail ID’s you can send your mailer to. As a beginner, it’s better to go through an ESP (E-mail service providers). ESPs are companies which provide bulk e-mail services. They adhere to the ‘CAN Spam Act Regulations’, automate a lot of things, have ready templates and give relevant data, saving you the effort of setting up everything on your own. Examples of ESPs:

  • Aweber (leading ESP)
  • MailChimp (gives free subscription)
  • iContact
  • Get Response
IP (internet protocol) address:

Much like your real life address, it can be as dynamic as the address of a traveller, changing every time you log into your internet account, or take it on rent, or invest in your own permanent address. The advantages of renting out are that you can choose an IP with a good reputation, but you won’t be guaranteed of who else has been using it. Having your own IP is any day the best option. However you will have to put in an effort to ensure that it has a good reputation.

4) What to send and how often-

Plan your customer’s journey through their entire purchase process and decide at what point you want to send what type of e-mail communication.

Types of e-mailers to start creating leads and re-targeting- once a week:
  • Invitations and Newsletters
  • Offers
  • Catalogues
  • Personalized e-mails
Automatic responders:
  • Welcome message on registration
  • Order confirmation

5) Content creation-

  • Don’t hard sell
  • Write content that would appeal to your target audience
  • Ensure that the content in the body and the subject line of your e-mailer are about the same topic
  • Try to guide your viewers towards clicking the links in your e-mailer
From Name:

Use company name if you want to keep it formal or use the name of a person to create a more personal touch.

Subject Line:
  • It should grab the attention of the viewer and make them open the mail
  • It should capture the essence of the e-mailer in under 10 words
  • Avoid excess punctuations and all caps
  • Using your company name or product name or both can increase the open rate.
Body of e-mail must have:
  • Company logo
  • Link to open the mail in browser
  • Unsubscribe Link – It’s mandatory in your e-mailer, to ensure it doesn’t get marked as spam.
  • Company’s mailing address and phone number
  • Links to your website and social media accounts
  • Call to action

6) Testing –

In our first round of e-mailers, we realized that the unsubscribe link had been placed twice in the body. This was because we inserted one and MailChimp automatically added one, as mandated by the ‘CAN Spam Act Regulations’. To ensure that the elements you want are not compromised and that the desired impact is created whether viewed on a computer screen or on a mobile phone (more than 80% of the people with e-mail accounts, access their mail on their phones), test by sending the finished e-mailer to a few of your colleagues, who use e-mail clients or mobile phones of the kind your target group is most likely to have.

7) Track and analysis-

Once you send your first e-mail campaign through an ESP, you will immediately start getting your stats. These will give you an indication on how well you have managed to reach your audience.

Stats and what they mean
  • Views or Open rate – This indicates the number of people who have opened your mail. If it’s less than 10% of your contacts, then you may have to look at changing your subject line
  • Clicks – This indicates the number of people who have clicked the links in your e-mail. This number will always be lesser than the number of views. If the clicks are less than 10% of your views then try improving on the content.
  • Unsubscribe – This indicates the number of people who don’t want to receive mails from you. If you are sending to a new list of people, initially this rate will be high, but should drop over time. If instead you continue seeing more than 1% of your contacts unsubscribe each time, review your content and subject line. Despite this if the unsubscribe rate is high it probably means you are targeting the wrong people.
  • Shares – This indicates the number of times the e-mail has been shared by the person who has received your mail.

Hopefully this will help you in creating successful e-mail campaigns. Just try to keep in touch with the latest trends in the market, experiment, be creative and have fun.

  • Email-Marketing


  • There are 5 comments


    • 2 years ago

      Mark   /   Reply

      Thanks for the article.

    • 2 years ago

      Pradnya .   /   Reply

      Thanks a lot Mark!

    • 2 years ago

      Sreejith P   /   Reply

      Very usable posts for beginners like me who works in Digital marketing Industry.

      • 2 years ago

        Pradnya   /   Reply

        Glad, it could help you Sreejith

    • 1 year ago

      Jack   /   Reply

      Great post, especially for beginners! A good alternative to Mailchimp is GetResponse. Have you tried it?

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