At One Step Services, we use email marketing to promote our products and services. Typically, the job of creating and sending those emails belongs to me, the Communication Strategist. I consider myself a decent email marketer. I’ve read articles, I pay attention to the send reports, I keep our lists clean and organized. Plus, I have a great software program, iContact, to help me stay on top of everything. When it comes to keeping our current client base informed, my efforts do the job.
However, I recently learned that I’m not very good at converting leads. We had a list of warm leads and I was so excited to get an email out to them and watch the phone ring. But that didn’t happen, not even once. I got ZERO response on that first email.
So, I decided to bring in a professional and turned to the team at MAB Digital Marketing. I’ve been in marketing long enough to know that there is a lot of psychology that goes into it. What I didn’t know, is that the psychological “rules” that apply to print marketing don’t necessarily apply to email marketing. So while the email I sent out would have made a great printed piece, it wasn’t so good for email. The guys at MAB made a more minimalist design, reworded my calls to action, swapped out graphics and changed the placement of buttons. The email certainly looked better, but I was still a little doubtful.
MAB set it up so that I got a notification anytime somebody clicked on a button in the email. The day the email was sent out, I got 6 notifications in the first hour. The notifications kept popping up, and at the end of 24 hours we had had 70 clicks off a 2500 list, which is very impressive. The sales team was then able to follow up with those leads.
While I still use iContact and my own expertise to send emails to those who are already our clients, I leave conversion campaigns to the professionals. If you have been using email marketing for a while and haven’t gotten the results you want, or if you are new to email marketing and don’t know where to start, I encourage you to contact MAB. Like One Step, they thrive on custom jobs. They’ll sit down with you to discuss your specific needs and goals, and create a plan to meet those needs and goals. Plus, they’ll work with us to get all your branding files and print marketing content so that your email marketing corresponds with your print. Visit their website www.mabdigitalmarketing.com for more info.
If you read our last post about the CAN-SPAM Act, you know that sending unsolicited emails is a big no-no. If you’re going to send people emails, particularly marketing emails, you need to get their permission first.
How do you go about doing that? There are several ways that you can invite people to subscribe to your list. Once they subscribe, you are free to send them marketing emails until they unsubscribe.
Put a signup form on your website. Many service providers make it easy to create a signup form that you or your webmaster can put on your website. Place it somewhere highly visible, like the homepage, and couple it with an offer, such as a free ebook, and you’ll see a lot of success. The nice thing about this is that once you set it up, you don’t have to think about it much. Leads will consistently trickle in
Collect business cards. Have you ever gone into a deli and seen a fishbowl full of business cards? Usually the deli holds a drawing once a month for a free office lunch and people drop in their business card in hopes of winning. Simply dropping a card in a fishbowl does not constitute as giving permission to send marketing emails. However, you can email each of those people once, thank them for their submission, and ask if they would like to subscribe to your mailing list.
Put a signup form on social media. Many email service providers make it easy to create a signup form that you can post to Facebook and other social media outlets. This is a great strategy because many people who follow you on social media are already familiar with your brand and enjoy interacting with your business, so they are likely to sign up for emails and then engage with them.
Send a direct mail postcard encouraging signups. Direct mail does not have the same opt in rules as email does. You can send a postcard to anybody (excluding those who have put themselves on the Do Not Mail list) which makes it a great venue to ask for subscribers. This is particularly effective if you have been mailing to a certain group of people for a while, and they are familiar with your business.
Send an opt in invitation to your personal contacts and past clients. Just because you have permission to send personal or business related emails to a person does not mean you can start sending them marketing emails. You can, however, ask those people if they would like to receive marketing emails. Remember to offer an incentive to encourage them to sign up.
Ask people to sign up for emails after they place an online order. There have been several times when I’ve gone to check out and have been asked to check a box to receive promos and coupons. If it’s a site I know I’ll use again, I almost always click yes. Who doesn’t love coupons?
Have a signup sheet at a tradeshow or open house. How many times have you been to an event, spoke with a vendor and thought “I’d like some more info about this business”? It happens to me often. You as the vendor are missing a golden opportunity if you aren’t asking for the email addresses of those interested in your business. Have a signup sheet out, and after you wrap up a conversation point to it and say “If you’d like more info, please join our email list.”
The CAN-SPAM Act is a set of rules that apply to all commercial email messages, whether sent in bulk or individually. These rules are enforced by the FTC and there are hefty fines associated with non compliance. So it’s beneficial for companies and individuals to become well acquainted with it before they begin an email marketing campaign. I highly recommend reading through the Act in its entirety on www.FTC.gov. Then, keep this infographic handy for quick reference when creating marketing emails:
The importance of opting in
The most important thing to remember about email marketing is that recipients must opt in. This means, they must tell you “Yes! I want to receive commercial messages from you!” They can do this in a variety of ways. They can fill out a form on your website, check a box on an order form, enter a contest, etc. At the time of opt in, you must make it clear what they are opting in to receive. For example, if you have people filling out a contest form, you can have a box that says “check here to receive our monthly newsletter.” People who check the box can receive your newsletter, however, they cannot receive the weekly coupons you send out because you did not disclose that at the time of opt in.
This is very different from direct mail. While people can be asked to be put on a “do not mail list” and you have to honor that, people do not have to opt in. You can send direct mail to anyone that is not “do not mail list.” But with email marketing, people have to make some sort of effort to be put on your list.
The CAN-SPAM Act is a little vague and understandably causes confusion for those who don’t think about email marketing 24/7. Fortunately, there are people who do think about it all the time and know how to craft effective marketing emails that are CAN-SPAM compliant. Our business partner, MAB Marketing, is a digital marketing agency that specializes in custom digital content creation, in the same way that One Step Services specializes in custom print content creation. Their work is effective, their service superb, and we highly recommend them! Contact Haris Karim at 949-464-8973 and tell him One Step sent you.
Many of our clients have started, or want to start, implementing email marketing into their marketing strategy. While One Step doesn’t provide a specific email marketing service, we work with clients and digital marketing vendors to ensure your marketing materials are coherent and carry the same brand. As a company that does email marketing for ourselves, we’ve got a couple tips that will help you build and maintain a successful email marketing strategy.
Successful email marketers follow the rules of the CAN-SPAM Act. The CAN-SPAM Act was signed into law in 2003 and sets specific rules for the sending of commercial and marketing emails. It is extremely important that you familiarize yourself with these rules before you start sending emails. Read the full act on the FTC website https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business
Successful email marketers focus on the quality of contacts as opposed to the quantity. Many people worry about the CAN-SPAM Act requirement that states you must make it easy for people to unsubscribe from your mailing list. But the truth is, it’s better for you that people who don’t want to receive your emails unsubscribe. Unhappy subscribers report unwanted emails as spam, which could land you on the blacklist. They also ignore emails, which means you’re paying to send emails to people who aren’t reading them. It’s better to have 100 subscribers who actually read your emails and act on them, than 1,000 subscribers who don’t.
On the same note, make sure the people you are subscribing have asked to be subscribed. Don’t simply start sending emails to everyone on your contact list. Instead, send one email asking if they would like to receive marketing emails from you. Then, put a signup form on your website and social media. You can also place pen and paper order forms at open houses, cash registers, trade show table, etc.
Successful email marketers use an agency or email service provider to send mass emails. Email service providers like iContact, MailChimp, and Constant Contact are very affordable (sometimes free) and provide a lot of tools to make your email marketing successful. They help ensure that you stay compliant with CAN-SPAM rules, they provide a variety of effective templates and they monitor recipient’s response.
Some people need more services. For example, you may want a completely customized look that can’t be accomplished with a template. Or you may be looking to start a complicated multi email campaign that requires the advice of an expert in the field. Or maybe you just don’t want to mess with setting up and sending emails and you’d prefer someone else did that for you. In that case, we recommend you use a digital marketing agency such as MAB Digital Marketing.
If you’re a client of One Step and you have a brand with us, we’d be happy to work with your digital marketing company so that your emails match your brand.
Successful email marketers pay attention to their send reports and adjust their strategy accordingly. When you use an agency or an email service provider, they’ll provide reports that tell you who opened your email, what links they clicked on, who unsubscribed from your list, etc. Pay attention to those reports. When I started our monthly newsletter, I paid special attention to which links within the email people were clicking. I noticed that one section in particular was consistently ignored. So I switched things up a bit, and now that is one of our most popular sections. Making adjustments will keep your emails relevant to subscribers and increases the likelihood that people will stay subscribed and engaged.
We are excited to announce a brand new product for our clients: emailed content ready postcards. As you know, every month we create content ready postcards for real estate and small business owners. These postcards are fully designed and can be personalized with an agent photo, company logo and contact information. Now, we are offering an HTML version of these postcards which we will send to your list of contacts on your behalf.
Ordering is easy. When you fill out the order form for your printed postcards, simply check the box that says “Email My Postcard.” Once you have approved the printed postcard, we will create an HTML email for you with the same content as the printed postcard. Please note, layout of the email postcard will vary slightly from the printed version. However, all design elements, photos and pictures will be the same.
Below are the answers to frequently asked questions about our new program. If you have further questions, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you simply emailing an image of the postcard?
No. We are creating an HTML version of the postcard. This means your email is more likely to land in inboxes rather than be marked as spam. It also means that the email is formatted to work on a variety of different browsers and devices, making it easier to see than a simple JPEG would.
Can I email a postcard without printing it?
No. you must print a minimum of 100 postcards if you want to order an HTML email version.
Where will my email be sent?
You are responsible for mailing your digital postcards. We will send it to you and simply copy and paste it into your email service provider.
Will I see a proof of my email?
Because we send you the digital postcard to send out, you will see it. If changes need to be made, you will incur an additional cost.
Can I request an email that looks different from my printed piece?
The flat $49 fee only applies to emails that mimic the printed piece. However, if you would like something customized, we can do that for you. Please email us with your request and we will provide you with a custom quote.
Seeing as I work in the direct mail marketing biz, I pay attention to my junk mail more than the average person. Every so often I come across a piece that strikes my fancy, either because it’s particularly good or particularly bad. When I come across these pieces, I share them in a fun little segment I call “Mailbox Monday.”
Last week, I received this email from a vendor we worked with at the beginning of the year.
It’s been a while since we’ve worked together, and I just wanted to check and see if this email was still active and if you had any need of our services! We are still the best for Promotional Products and have your logo on file if you have any projects on the horizon.
Please let me know how I can assist you and earn your business again.
I appreciated this email for several reasons. One, it was personal. It was addressed to me specifically and it was signed by a specific sales rep. Its amazing how simply using personal names, instead of generic terms like “client” or the business name, can make a piece of communication much more appealing to the recipient.
A second thing that I appreciated about this email was that it was short, simple and to the point. Between work and taking care of my infant son, I do not have time to read a long, drawn out sales pitch. Nor do I have the patience to dicipher a complicated discount (if you order this many products by this time while standing on your head and eating banana, we’ll give you 50% off!). I appreciated that the sales rep respected my time and said what he needed to say quickly.
Thirdly, this email does a great job of being customer centric, while at the same time promoting the business. I read tons of marketing blogs and they all say the same thing “Focus your marketing on the customer! Identify and address the customers needs. Talk about the customer more than yourself.” All of this is great advice and is crucial to a successful marketing plan. However, if you only focus on the customer and never promote yourself, you won’t make the sale. This email essentially says “if you have a need, we are the best ones to meet that need.” The sales rep also points out that he has my logo on file, reminding me that it would be much easier to place orders with them than starting with another company. He addressed a need (I need things to be easy) and told me how he could meet that need (they already have my artwork on file so placing an order is easy).
The last thing I appreciated about this email was that a real live person from the vendor took the time to reach out to me. I actually responded to this email, which is something I rarely do, and thanked the service rep for reaching out. And he responded with a simple thank you, again reminding me that a real live person is taking the time to communicate with me.
When its all said and done, I didn’t place an order with the sales rep that day because I simply did not need his services. However, the next time I do, you can bet that I’ll be going directly to him. Hopefully he continues to occasionally reach out to me to keep himself at the forefront of my mind.
In our series about email marketing, we’ve talked extensively about how to create and maintain an email list of customers and potential customers that want to receive your emails. We’ve also talked extensively blacklists and how to avoid them.
Now that you’ve got your list set up and your familiar with the rules, you’re faced with your next challenge: What types of emails should I send?
All of your emails should create value for the recipients. The focus should be more on meeting their needs than promoting your business. Want to promote a new product? Great, include a coupon so recipients can get a discount on that product. Your content should answer questions, give useful information, give discounts or keep recipients updated on important industry news.
Newsletters are a great way to share valuable information with your clients, which establishes you as an expert in the field and helps gain customers’ trust. Newsletter content should focus on informing rather than selling. If you’re a real estate agent, your newsletters can share market information, give moving tips, explain complicated real estate terms or discuss community events. If you are emailing for a non profit organization, share stories of how your work is changing lives, give kudos to donors and tell people how they can volunteer. Newsletters are most effective when they have a lot of pictures and textual messages that are short, to the point and easy to remember.
Are you hosting a new store opening, webinar or special client event? Send invitations and collect RSVPs through email. Encourage people to RSVP by making each positive response an entry into a drawing for an attractive prize. Just make sure you’re sending to people who are actually able to go. For example, if you’re opening a new store in San Diego, don’t send to your clients in San Francisco.
Coupons and discounts are almost always popular emails. They will be even more effective if you tailor your offers to fit your customer’s needs based on things they have previously bought. For example, if you own a pet store, send discounts on dog products to dog owners, cat products to cat owners, etc. People like to feel special, so another effective tactic is to create discounts available only to email subscribers. Let them know this is a special offer available only to them and they’ll be more likely to act on it and stay subscribed.
Product launches are great things to advertise via email. You can include a video of someone using the product or giving a testimonial about how great it is. Don’t simply list the products great features, but tell clients how this product will help them and make their lives easier.
Surveys can be a great way for you to better understand your client base and create products and services that better meet their needs. You can ask about their recent experience with your company, which product do they use most often, or ask for name suggestions for a new product. People like knowing that their opinions are heard and respected, so be sure to act on those responses and use them to better the customer experience.
We’d like to hear from you. What types of emails have you sent out that have gotten a good response? Tell us in the comments below.
Last week in our email marketing series, I explained what a black list is and why you don’t want your email to end up one. However, even honest email marketers who follow all the rules still find themselves on a black list. This can have a detrimental effect on your business and stop vital email communications. Therefore, it’s important to address the issue quickly and get your email back on track.
How do I know if I’ve been blacklisted?
If you notice that a majority of your emails are being bounced back or are undeliverable, that could be a sign that you’ve been blacklisted. The best thing to do is talk to your Internet Service Provider. Our One Step email was once blacklisted, and we immediately got on the phone with Cox Communications to sort the whole thing out. There are also websites that allow you to enter your domain name or IP address to see if you’ve been put on any of the major blacklists. Mailbox Tools in one example of such a site.
How do I get off a blacklist?
Again, your first attempt should be to contact your Internet Service Provider and see if they can help you get off a blacklist. If they can’t, your second plan of action should be to contact the lists that you’ve been put on. Ask why you’ve been blacklisted and ask them to take you off. In some cases, its the blacklist’s fault for being over aggressive and they will take you off. In other cases, you, the email sender, has inadvertently done something wrong and you must make corrections before being taken off the list.
How do I prevent being blacklisted in the future?
- Keep your list up to date. Sometimes simply sending emails to an address that is no longer in use can get you on a blacklist (that’s what happened with One Step.) Keep on eye on which addresses are receiving and opening your emails, and which aren’t. If you notice that an address hasn’t opened your emails in the past few months, it’s a good idea to delete that address.
- Don’t send unsolicited emails. Sending emails to people who didn’t ask to get emails from you is a sure fire way to get your emails marked as spam and your IP address put on a blacklist.
- Make it easy to unsubscribe. This may seem counter intuitive. You want people to be subscribed, so why would you make it easy for them to unsubscribe? Because if people can’t easily figure out how to unsubscribe, they will simply mark the email as spam, which could land you on a blacklist.
- Remind people where and why they signed up. Sometimes people forget signing up for emails, and so when they receive them they mark them as spam. In every email, remind people when and why they signed up.
- Send quality content. People value information more than ads. If you send emails that are valuable to your recipients, they will not only keep their subscription but they will probably take action and do business with you. Pay attention to the needs, questions and desires of your customers and send emails that address those.
Now we want to hear from you. Have you ever been blacklisted? How did you resolve the issue? What tips do you have for staying off an email blacklist? Feel free to comment below!