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Answers to 10 Email Marketing Questions You Were Too Afraid to Ask

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When I first started out with email marketing, I felt lost. I had been handling the blog and social media accounts, then suddenly I had to take on some email duties. I immediately needed to understand things like what a hard bounce was (and how it was different from a soft bounce), how to determine a good clickthrough rate from a bad one, and why my emails looked perfectly fine in Gmail but got completely screwed up in Hotmail.

I had all of these really basic questions but I couldn't find straight answers online -- and I didn't want to keep bombarding other people with questions either.

To prevent anyone else from being in the same situation I was in, I decided to write one post to answer all of my most burning questions that I felt stupid asking when I first started. So keep reading to get your most burning -- yet basic -- email marketing questions answered. Don't worry, this is a safe space.

1) Should I buy a list just to kick off my email marketing?

No.

You should never be buying lists -- even if people opted in to those lists, they didn't opt in to hear from you. This means when they get an email from you, they'll not just be less likely to open or click on it because they don't know you -- they could mark you as spam because they don't recognize your name. You could also be mucking up your deliverability score by buying lists, which will affect the success of your email marketing long term. And these are just a few of the dangers of buying a list.

2) How do I grow my email marketing list organically, then?

Okay, so if you can't buy email lists, you need to focus on growing your list organically -- this means people must opt-in to hear from your company.

One of the most basic ways to grow your list is to create an offer (a piece of content that lives behind a form) and ask for people to give you their email address to access that piece of content. This is just one way to grow your list, but it demonstrates the basic principle behind organic contact database growth. Here are 25 more clever ideas for growing your email database.

3) Where does an email newsletter fit into email marketing?

There are lots of types of emails you can send -- email newsletters are just one kind that fits under the larger umbrella of email marketing. An email newsletter is usually an email on one topic promoting a few different pieces of content, with the goal of getting you to read those pieces of content. Email newsletters may also feature ads or special offers, but they're usually not prominently featured.

Most people think they need an email newsletter, but often your email marketing program will be more effective for building your business if you send really specific content tailored to your marketing funnel. Consider spending more time segmenting your lists and sending emails that feature just one piece of content that has the goal of getting recipients to progress further down the marketing funnel instead of rounding up a lot of content to share in a newsletter.

4) How often should I be sending emails?

It depends.

Maybe you create a lot of content and you share it with your list every morning at 7 a.m. Your list could love that you are consistently sending them content.

Or maybe your list doesn't want to hear from you more than once a month. For example, if you were a dentist, your list might feel nagged if you were sending them flossing tips more than once a month.

The bottom line: Send email as often as people want to hear from you. You'll only find that out by running tests that help you determine how much is too much. This post can help you figure it out.

5) How do I make sure I don't land in the spam folder?

I'm sure you've gotten random marketing emails from other companies delivered to your spam folder, so you definitely don't want yours to end up there, too.

The biggest thing you can do to stay out of the spam folder is to work off an opt-in email list that you built yourself -- not one that's purchased or rented. You should also follow best practices like identifying who you are in your sender name, making unsubscription easy, segmenting your lists and tailoring your content to those segments, cleansing your lists, and not bombarding your recipients' inboxes with too much email.

6) How do I make sure my emails will all look great when delivered?

This was one of the hardest things I struggled with when I first started out. Every time I made an email, it looked different in different inboxes. Why? Because email providers all render HTML differently. It's just one of those things that's out of your control ... but you can work around it.

You've just got to put your head down and test out emails over and over again to make sure they work for each outlet. Your email marketing provider might be able to help you with this one (HubSpot customers, for example, can test emails for different providers right within the tool). If this isn't baked into your marketing software, check out Litmus. Otherwise, you can create a bunch of email accounts on the major providers, send yourself test emails, and guess and check until the emails look right (warning: this can take lots of time, but is worth it in the long run).

After you find an email layout that works for all platforms, stick with it for future emails. You don't want to be reinventing the wheel each time you need to send an email.

7) What do open rates and clickthrough rates mean? Are there any other metrics I should be tracking besides those?

Open rates and click-through rates are the most common benchmarks people use when talking about email marketing success. An open rate is the percentage of people who opened your email from the total that received it. Your clickthrough rate is the percentage of people who clicked on a link in your email from the total number of people that opened it. These two metrics are the ones most people think of when measuring their email marketing, but they aren't the only ones you should focus on. In fact, an open rate can be an incredibly unreliable metric -- read more about that in this post.

Other metrics to track depending on the goals of your email sends. Are you trying to generate leads? Get someone to sign up for a demo? Get someone to buy your product? You should figure out how you can measure email's impact on those numbers. If you have closed-loop marketing, tracking these bottom-line results is much easier.

8) How do I know if one subject line will perform better than another?

Some email subject lines are better than others -- they're usually short, sweet, and action-oriented. Here's a full list of what makes a subject line great.

That being said, subject lines also fall into the "your audience might be different" category. Use those best practices as a jumping off point, then run some A/B tests to pinpoint what makes a headline best for your audience. Then do more of that. :)

9) What's the difference between a hard and a soft bounce?

When an email bounces, it means that your sender couldn't deliver it to someone's email address. A hard bounce means that it failed for a permanent reason -- something like a fake, invalid, or blocked email address. On the other hand, a soft bounce means that it failed because of a temporary issue -- a full mailbox or an unavailable service, for example.

To keep your list healthy, make sure you're removing all hard bounces and keeping an eye on the soft bounce addresses. By not cleansing your list, you may end up hurting your other emails' deliverability.

10) How do I prevent people from unsubscribing from my emails?

If you don't want to break the law, you should never prevent someone from unsubscribing from your emails. CAN-SPAM, one of the most important laws you need to follow as a marketer, says that email marketers should always make it easy for people to unsubscribe from their emails by providing a clearly visible link in every email message and honouring those unsubscribes in a timely manner.

Still, I understand that your boss will expect to do something if your unsubscribe rates are skyrocketing. In general, segmentation and more tailored content can really help with unsubscribes, but here are some more tips you can try to re-engage people who might think your emails belong in the spam folder.

What other questions do you have about basic email marketing?Feel free to ask them in the comments.

Steps to Developing a Marketing Plan

The Marketing Plan is Key to Increasing Sales

Running a successful business is not like a field of dreams; you can build it but they might not come. Marketing is all about letting people know about the product or service you offer and persuading them to buy or use it. And for effective marketing, you have to let people know about your product or service repeatedly.

To do this, you're going to have to come up with both a marketing strategy and a marketing plan.


Marketing Strategy Versus Marketing Plan

The marketing strategy is shaped by your overall business goals. It includes a definition of your business, a description of your products or services, a profile of your target users or clients, and defines your company's role in relation to the competition. The marketing strategy is essentially a document that you use to judge the appropriateness and effectiveness of your specific marketing plans.

To put it another way, your marketing strategy is a summary of your company's products and position in relation to the competition; your sales and marketing plans are the specific actions you're going to undertake to achieve the goals of your marketing strategy.

The marketing plan, then, can be thought of as the practical application of your marketing strategy. If you look at my article, Writing The Marketing Plan, you'll see that the marketing plan includes details about your business' unique selling proposition, pricing strategy, the sales and distribution plan and your plans for advertising and promotions.

So in effect, you can't have a marketing plan without a marketing strategy. The marketing strategy provides the goals for your marketing plans. It tells you where you want to go from here. The marketing plan is the specific roadmap that's going to get you there.

Developing a Marketing Plan:

If you were going to drive from Point A to Point B, would you really just glance at a globe and then head out?

Expecting to implement a marketing strategy without developing a marketing plan is just like this analogy. The more detailed information that's been collected beforehand, and the more planning that's been done ahead of time, the faster and more pleasant the trip - and the more effective your marketing plan will be.

Follow these steps:

1) The first step is to create specific marketing objectives and write them down. What do you want your promotion efforts to do for you?

If you're selling herbs, for instance, perhaps you want to increase your monthly sales by 25 percent. If you're a realtor, a good marketing objective might be to get 10 new listings each month. My own marketing objective is to gain a new client each month. Whatever marketing objective you set, be sure it's realistic; you need to be able to achieve the marketing objective if it's going to motivate you or serve as a good benchmark to evaluate your success.

2) Now the hard part. Under each marketing objective, write as many specific things as you can that you are going to do to achieve the objective. If I want to increase my monthly sales by 25 percent, one thing I might do is place some ads. But when I'm working on my marketing objective list, I need to take the time to think it through so I'll be able to follow through effectively.


Just "placing some ads" isn't specific enough to serve as a marketing objective. I have to consider what type of ads and where I might place them to increase my monthly sales. For instance, I might write, "place an ad describing specials in the local newspaper" as a marketing objective, or "put an ad on local TV station".

Then I have specific actions to follow that will help me achieve my marketing objective rather than just a vague idea. If you're having trouble with coming up with these specific activities, or seeing how each marketing objective fits in with your marketing plan, reading The Advertising and Promotion Plan will help you fit all the pieces together.

3) Go over the list of specific activities you've brainstormed and check them against your marketing plan. Choose the ones that fit best with your marketing objectives and do the best job of targeting your potential clients or customers.

4) Then, using your calendar, decide which promotional activities you're going to do when. You can break your marketing plan down by month or by quarter, but be sure you include not only a description of the activity or event, but also a reference to which marketing objective the promotion activity or event is related to, and a cost estimate.

Regularly Update Your Plan

Once you set up your marketing plan, remember that it needs to be an organic, living document, not something you put into a nice folder and file somewhere and never look at again. Take fifteen minutes every day to review your goals and specific activities; what did you do that particular day to help you achieve the marketing objectives you've set?

What do you need to do tomorrow? Too often we make plans or list objectives and then get so enmeshed in all the things we have to do to run our businesses that we shunt them aside. Taking fifteen minutes a day to review your marketing objectives, marketing plan, and marketing activities goes a long way towards helping you stay focused and on track and market your products or services effectively.

9 Simple Steps Will Ensure Your Marketing Campaign's Success

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Nike's famous slogan "Just Do It" is really bad advice when it comes to conducting a marketing campaign for your small business. But this is what passes for a marketing plan for a lot of small businesses. They place an ad here and an ad there, put up a website or a Facebook page and call it done.

Unfortunately, this sort of "doing-this-and-that" marketing approach is like fishing on dry land; you can cast as much as you like, but you're not going to catch anything because you're nowhere near the pond.

How do you get your line to where the fish are? Follow the nine steps below to run a successful marketing campaign.


1) Know how your marketing campaign fits into your marketing plan.

Ideally, before you plan a marketing campaign, you have a marketing plan for your business. (If you don't, Writing the Marketing Plan will lead you through the process.)

The marketing plan is your master plan for marketing your small business. It provides the full picture of your marketing objectives and strategies for interesting your target market in your products and/or services. The marketing campaign, on the other hand, is one small piece of your marketing plan, a marketing action designed to achieve a particular objective.
When you know how your marketing campaign fits into your overall plan, you know who your target market is and how you might best communicate with them.


2) Set your marketing campaign objective and parameters.

What do you want your campaign to achieve?
That's the objective. You want to be a specific as possible. Not just, "I want more sales", but how many and of what product or service?
You can think of parameters as the details of the marketing objective. Time is the most common parameter that needs to be included as marketing campaigns lose their effectiveness over time.

(Even Tony the Tiger had to be retired eventually.)
So a common marketing campaign objective formula is: what will be achieved + how long will the marketing campaign run?
For example: Sales of face beauty marks will increase 50% in three months.


3) Determine how you will measure success.

What metrics are you going to use? How will you tell if your marketing campaign has succeeded or not? Obviously, if you have a marketing objective such as "Sales of face beauty marks will increase 50% in three months" the metric you're going to use to measure the success of your marketing campaign is the number of sales made over the three month period. But the number of sales may not be an appropriate metric at all if your marketing objective is to increase the awareness of your brand or to improve your website's search engine page ranking.

For tracking online marketing efforts, you can use Google Analytics.
Methods of Tracking Offline Marketing Efforts explains some common ways to measure the success of your offline marketing campaign.
Don't forget to establish or note a baseline for whatever metric you've chosen; you'll need it to measure your progress.


4) Set your marketing campaign budget.

How much money you have to spend on your campaign will greatly affect the marketing strategies you choose so you need to set the marketing budget first.

Obviously, a Superbowl TV ad is much more costly than an ad on local television or on social media.
Don't depend on free advertising and promotion strategies for your small business. This is one of the biggest mistakes small business owners make. This is not to say that all free marketing strategies are bad. But there is always a cost to marketing, even if the cost is only time, and your time may be much better spent.

Always think first; is this the best/ most effective/ most convincing way to reach my customer? These ways usually cost money so resign yourself to spending money on your marketing campaign. You don't necessarily have to spend a lot, but you do need to spend some. (Worried about the cost? See these 40 Budget Marketing Ideas for Your Small Business.)

 

5) Choose your marketing strategies to communicate with the customers:

What communication channels are you going to use?

Email? Direct mail? Pay-per-click online advertising?

Note that some communications channels are going to be better suited to your target market than others. For instance, placing radio ads may be a complete waste of money if your target market doesn't regularly listen to the radio.

Think about your target market's haunts and habits when you're choosing channels to reach them. Where do they spend their time? Where are they most likely to see or hear and pay attention to information about your products and/or services? In a magazine? On a bus bench? On their smartphone?


6) Create a timeline/action plan.

Write down what exactly you’re going to do and when.
It doesn't have to be elaborate, but writing it down will greatly increase the chances that you follow through and give you records to use when you go to evaluate the success of your marketing campaign.

For instance, suppose you are selling bicycle seats designed to be more comfortable than most. You might come up with a campaign plan such as:
Sponsor local Sea to Sky bike race in September ($500 to become sponsor).
Send out a press release when you first become a sponsor (free if you do it yourself). Send out another pre-race in late August.
Place a series of ads in the local newspaper, one in June, one in July, two in August and one post-event in September (5 x $125.00 = $625).
Post sponsor info on your business Facebook page.

Now that's about as simple a marketing campaign as you can have. My point is they can be simple. Simple is fine if it gets results.
This is also a great example of a marketing campaign that it would be easy to jazz up.

Suppose, for instance, that there was a local person who was going to be in the bike race that was willing to wear a jersey with your business name and logo on it for the cost of a free bike seat.

Suppose as well that she was willing to be the face of an online marketing campaign, whether free or for a price, and you could then set up a Facebook page and Twitter account about her training for the race (and, of course, promoting your bike seats). On race day, you could tweet about her progress. See how easy? And all for less than $2000. See Why Your Business Should Use Twitter and How to Create a Business Page on Facebook.

You could also get more promotion benefit out of your race sponsorship by advertising in more places, such as buying banner ads on bike-related websites, and/or ads inappropriate magazines.


7) Do it.

Write your ad copy. Firm up your dates. Place your ads. Search for and approach someone to be the face of your online marketing campaign. Whatever actions your campaign involves, execute; do; activate.
Go back to your action plan timeline and check items off, writing on the date that you complete them. It will keep you organized and you'll love the feeling.


8) Measure your results.

When the campaign is over, it's time to see how successful it was. Go back to your marketing objective, measure what you've chosen to measure to determine the campaign's success and see how it's done.

Suppose that the marketing objective for your bike seats marketing campaign was to increase sales of bike seats 25% over four months. It would be a simple matter after the fact to compare May, June, July, August and September sales figures and do the math.


9) Tweak and repeat as necessary.

Once you've measured the results of your marketing campaign, you'll be able to make decisions about the marketing strategies you've used and future campaigns. Suppose that your bike seat marketing campaign increased bike seat sales 41%. You'd decide to repeat it again next year, wouldn't you?

And assuming you had the tracking in place to know which marketing strategy produced which results, you could tweak your campaign accordingly. If the data showed that only 2% of increased sales came from your Twitter and Facebook strategies, you might decide not to bother with that aspect of this campaign next year. Or you might decide to repeat the whole marketing campaign as designed and see if the results of these two strategies improve.

Of course, your sales results for the months involved may show no improvement or even a decline, making this marketing campaign a bust. That happens sometimes, too. You might have to go back and do some serious revamping or even scrap the whole bike race sponsorship campaign.

But if you've set up your marketing campaign properly and kept records of what you’ve been doing, at least you have data to make these kinds of marketing decisions.


The Best Marketing Campaign

In a way, any marketing campaign is better than none, because it means you're directing your small business marketing efforts rather than just casting blindly here and there. But the best marketing campaign is the one that gets the results that you want and that takes some planning and a coordinated effort.

Writing Your Business Plan

Creating a Marketing Plan for New Businesses

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Setting up your business for success is a tall task. There are many different steps that cover a range of issues, including accounting practices, hiring, purchasing equipment and advertising, just to name a few. One of the most essential of these startup responsibilities is marketing.

Creating a marketing plan for your new business is one critical aspect in building a business that survives its first year. If done correctly, your marketing plan is so much more than a budget and strategies. It can serve as your guide to identifying and reaching your customers and staying engaged with them. It should also outline ways to adjust your methods as you learn what works and what doesn’t.

Let’s look at what is included in a marketing plan, and the steps needed to create a great one.

 

Defining a Small Business Marketing Plan

A small business marketing plan can be as robust or as lean as you want. At the minimum, it should include a description of who your customers are, how they get information and where you can reach them.

To start this process, complete these four steps first.

1. Determine Why a Customer Would Come to You

This means more than just restating your product’s or business’ mission statement. You want to clearly define the purpose behind a customer choosing you over a competitor. Is using your product or service related to social status, everyday living, convenience or something else? You should know and understand why a customer would choose you over a competitor.

2. Identify Your Target Customers

Target customers are different than your target market, and you should really know both. Your target market refers to the area (geographic or otherwise) that you will serve, while your target customers are the people who are most likely to purchase your product. In the world of marketing, determining who these people are, normally comes down to a combination of demographics and psychographics.

Demographic information is fairly easy to find. This includes age, gender, household income, marital status, home ownership and more. Your best, free resource for demographic information is the U.S. Census Bureau. The Small Business Administration’s website also offers links to a handful of online resources for demographic information.

Psychographic information is a little harder to come by without a membership to an analytics organization such as Nielsen @Plan or Kantar Media. Psychographic data measures audience behavior (i.e. why a customer might buy something). This could include any number of factors including a person’s lifestyle (e.g. healthy, active), social class, activities and hobbies, values, attitudes and personality.

3. Identify the Competitors That Target Your Customers

The most important competitors you’ll face are the ones who are directly targeting your ideal consumer. Conduct an honest assessment of your competitors and what they have to offer that you don’t. Also take some time to analyze how they might react to your business. Are they prone to discounting, aggressive advertising or special offers? You can be assured they will use a combination of all of the above once you flip over your open sign.

4. Draft Your Brand Positioning Statement

You need a clear idea of what sets your company apart because that is what will bring customers through your doors. You can use the information you uncovered in step three to guide you, but these positioning statements should be single-minded and focused.

 

How to Create a Small Business Marketing Plan
Now that you’ve completed your data collection, you need to actually formulate your marketing plan. Here are the key features to include.

1. Situation Analysis

This is an overview of your company’s current state. Include a strength, weakness, opportunity and threat (SWOT) analysis as part of this section as well.

2. Target Audience

You’ve done all the work to understand who your target customer is, so spend time writing out a description of this target audience. It should be descriptive and as succinct as possible. Don’t forget to include any psychographic data you might have as well.

3. Marketing Goals

Draft your marketing goals. Besides writing out goals that directly address the things you want to accomplish (i.e. an increase in sales), make sure that these goals are all measurable. Almost as important as your marketing plan are the results. You need to make sure you can measure it so you can determine success or failure.

4. Strategies and Tactics

Using your marketing goals as a blueprint, determine the strategies and tactics you will use to achieve them. These will include the different types of media you want to use and the different advertising or outreach tools you will use. This is the meat of your marketing plan. Spend time looking at your audience and determining the best way to reach them. Not every customer can be reached the same way.

5. Marketing Budget

This is the last and likely trickiest piece of the plan. Your marketing budget will need to strike a fine balance between being high enough to make an impact, but low enough not to wipe out your startup fund. Gather costs for the tactics you outlined in step 4. If you have the option of working with multiple media outlets, gather quotes from a few so that you can compare and contrast their services and value.

Don’t overlook the importance of your marketing plan. If done well, your marketing plan can easily become a rallying point for you and your employees; something to strive towards and succeed at. It can also be a way for you to focus if you ever find yourself uncertain about what to do next. Take the time to create a marketing plan that works.

Email marketing is a highly valued element of any marketing strategy. Check out our post to learn why it's crucial.

4 Ways To Grow Your Business With Email Marketing

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4 Ways To Grow Your Business With Email Marketing


1. Promote your new products or services
There is nothing better than sending an email campaign to promote a new service or product. Don’t forget to list the benefits of your product or service in your email. If your readers know “what’s in it for them”, your email is more likely to have an impact.

2. Build customer loyalty
If you want to build a long-term relationship with your customers, email is the way to go. Here are some examples of personalized emails you can send to your contacts:
Greeting Cards: Highlight your clients’ birthday with a discount coupon.
We miss you: Send an automated email to subscribers who have not made a purchase in a while. Why not add a discount coupon to sweeten the deal?
Monthly newsletter: Send relevant content to your customers on a regular basis, so they can discover what’s happening in your business (news, events, etc.).

3. Educate your customers
The same questions will often come up, which is why most businesses have a “frequently asked questions” section on their website. You can go the extra mile and address these issues in the form of a blog post or webinar etc. If those basic questions aren’t answered preemptively, customers might call your company’s customer service team, which will incur extra costs by tying up valuable manpower.

Ask your customer service representatives about the most frequently asked questions, and produce content summarizing both the question and the answer. If you have the option of publishing content on your site easily, do so, and then send an email to all of the customers to which it applies with a link to the info. If it’s complicated to publish on your site, write the content directly in an email instead.

4. Automate your follow-ups
As an SME owner or sales and marketing manager, you are forced to constantly juggle an array of tasks and naturally, at some point run out of time. You then start neglecting some crucial tasks like communicating with your contacts or prospects regularly.

If you always communicate the same information manually to each prospect for example, you can automate the process in minutes. Let SendApp take care of sending the emails for you. All you have to do is analyze the statistics. Whether you want to send welcome emails or send tips & tricks after a purchase, everything can be easily automated. Discover how to do it here or on this link by getting started.

Introducing SendApp

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Introducing SendApp!

SendApp is an online Contact Management and Communication Portal that lets you organize contacts in different categories for seamless communication.

SendApp allows Organisation to send Bulk SMS & Email Campaign from your Computer & Mobile devices to anywhere in the world.

 

SendApp Features:

Contact Manager: SendApp Contact Manager lets you organize contacts and deals in one place. Managing your business contacts just got easier.

Email Campaign: Perfect your lead generation and customer relationship management with SendApp marketing automation, bulk email service and elegant email templates design tool.


SMS Campaign: SendApp Connects you to the world. Reach out to your audience by leveraging on our global messaging platform with coverage in 200+ countries.

 Get Started

 

 

 

 

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