The prospect of getting started with email marketing can be daunting – new terminology to learn, systems, strategies…phew! But building your database and using email marketing to communicate with your customers and build a relationship, is key to success and a great way to turn prospective clients into customers and advocates.


But if you’re just starting your business or considering using email marketing in your current business, how do you get started? How do you build a list of engaged, interested prospects and what on earth do you send them when you get them onto your list?! Start with out top 10 tips and get yourself off to a flying start.


  1. Building your list is vital.

Without a list, you have no way to directly and quickly contact your prospects and customers with information specific to them. Building a list should always be at the forefront of your mind, with your sign up form placed in as many places as possible, from your website to social media channels and even through face to face meetings (perhaps in a shop or at an event) or over the phone.


  1. Give people a reason to subscribe to your list.

You know how fantastic your businesses is, but most people are only just finding your organisation and taking a leap of faith by registering to receive your emails. An email address is a valuable commodity and should be treated as such. Think about what you can offer in return for the users email address that would be valuable to your target marketing and encourage the registration. Depending on your business, this could be anything from a free whitepaper download, to a video series or discount off their first purchase.


  1. Plan your campaigns and get ahead of the game

Having run email campaigns for companies large and small over the years, I know what its like to keep up with the demand of creating new content and getting your emails sent. Especially as entrepreneurs, when you’re wearing all hats and completing all the tasks in your business, you may be wondering how you will have time to add regular emails into your strategy?!


That’s where firm planning comes into place. Set down what types of email you want to send and when you want to send them and stick to it. When planning your campaigns, in order to ensure your messages are cohesive and interesting, you can also go one step further and plan out the main topics, call to action and content outline of what you want to say in each message in advance. In this way, when you come to write each email (such as your monthly newsletter) you will already know exactly what you want to say and save yourself, stress, worry and time by simply following your plans.


  1. Make your call to action clear and accessible

It is really important to make your call to action really clear and precise – be specific to drive subscribers to exactly what you want them to do (don’t be vague by using terms like ‘Learn More’). You should also ensure you include your call to action at least 2/3 times throughout your email to give subscribers maximum chance to complete your desired action.


  1. Design your emails with image suppression in mind.

The majority of ISPs (such as Yahoo!, Gmail and Hotmail (Outlook)) will automatically disable images from showing in your emails until the recipient explicitly chooses to turn them on. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your main message and call to action are not hidden in your images and available in your copy so that even without turning images on, the subscriber can clearly, easily and quickly gain the value from your message and complete your call to action immediately.



  1. Give the audience what they want and optimise your creatives for engagement

Unless you ask your audience what they would like to hear about from you, how do you know your communications will be hitting the mark? We highly recommend sending out a survey to your list to find out more about them. This information can be used to inform the campaigns you send as well as the content to put in them, allowing you to gain the most engagement from your campaigns by providing relevance and value to your subscribers.


  1. Always check your creatives before pressing the send button

You have spent all that time crafting and creating your email campaigns, it would be a shame for the impact of the message to be diluted by spelling mistakes, links that don’t work or images that are not displaying correctly.


If your Email Service Provider (ESP) includes a testing suite to allow you to see how your email renders in different email clients, that’s a great way to send one test and check that everything looks and works as it should in many different ISPs. If not, you could look to employ a 3rd party service such as Litmus, or alternatively (and for free) set up a range of email accounts at different ISPs yourself and send you tests to each account, checking that everything is at is should be before setting the broadcast live.


  1. Use technology to make your life easier

ESPs are there to not only send your campaigns, but also to make your life easier by providing technology to allow you to break your audience down into smaller segments, change content automatically depending on who is receiving it and a wealth of other features. Explore the range of ESPs out there and find out what they provide and how you can use this technology to not only make your life easier, but also to increase your revenue. For example, you can use technology to create automatically broadcast campaigns triggered by the information in your database, such as a recipients birthday or (with additional tracking) when someone abandons their basket on a retail site.


  1. Test, Test and Test again

Even for similar businesses, different copy, designs, content and more can work better for some than for others. It is therefore important to make sure you are continuously testing different elements of your campaigns (one at a time so you can see the results of each test individually) to ensure that you are making the most of each and every send opportunity.


The best place to start is with A/B testing – taking two versions of your creative with one element different (such as the subject line, call to action copy, or a piece of copy used) and sending this to a smaller subsection of your database. After analysing the results of this test you can then decide on a ‘winning’ version (whether that be in terms of the highest number of opens, clicks or conversions for example), which can then be rolled out to the remainder of your database. Alternatively, you could run a straight 50/50 split on your whole database and use the learning’s for future campaigns.


  1. Just get started!

The most important thing is to just get started! Choose one campaign to begin your endeavours and build on your strategy from there!



Post written by Kate Barrett of Shine a Light Media.

Kate has over 10 years experience working directly on client email marketing programs, she have a proven track record of increasing results; from opens and clicks to conversions. Speaking, blogging, research and DMA membership mean that she is always up to date with the latest email marketing news to feed her passion!


Kate is helping the Goal Setting Collective work on the goal of building their list – why not join the collective so you can benefit from what she has to say?


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