You have a Web site, but want to grow your online presence. How? Try e-mail. E-mail marketing is relatively easy, it works, it’s measurable, it’s timely, it’s affordable, it’s a great way to stay in touch, and it helps to maintain and enhance your brand in the marketplace. It also keeps your company at the forefront of your customers’ minds.
E-newsletters and promotional e-mails, whether sent out on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis, help to build brand image, heighten interest in your company and provide value to your customers. Here are some steps to establishing an e-mail marketing program:
- Determine your company’s e-mail goals and objectives. What is your goal for starting an e-mail marketing program? Maybe you want to increase your Web site visits or drive customers to your Web site as the main contact point. Perhaps you want to improve your organic search efforts or increase your return on investment (ROI) and online rentals.
- Evaluate the major players who will have a major role in the program. Who is going to maintain your e-mail database, your opt out and undeliverable records, and send your e-mails? There are e-mail service providers that can help. An e-mail service provider will house your e-mail database and support and send your e-mails. Working with an account manager will help make the process as seamless as possible. This cuts back on staff support on your end. An e-mail service provider also will ensure that you are in compliance with the strict e-mail laws and best practices. Before you decide that an e-mail service provider will be too costly, make sure to research various providers, for you will certainly be surprised at how affordable they can be.
Another solution is to make a one-time purchase of an e-mail desktop software application. These often are useful for businesses that are just starting an e-mail marketing program and expect lists to remain small. You will need someone on your staff who will keep your e-mail lists up to date and be responsible for staying on top of all that is new in the e-mail marketing industry. Your e-mail service provider or your e-mail desktop program will enable you to view your open rates, click-through rates — each individual link is tracked so you may see which links were most interesting to your customers — and unsubscribe rates. These types of reports are invaluable to the future of your e-mail program. You will be able to see which offers are working and which ones are not.
Also, consider who will design your e-mails for optimum visibility and deliverability. Do you have a creative designer? The designer can be someone in your company or you can hire an outside firm for help.
- Develop your list. Who are you going to send your e-mails to? Before you may begin sending e-mail, you must ask your customers to opt-in. Optimize e-mail collection by asking for your customer’s e-mail address at all points of contact including:
- Point of rental. Make collecting an e-mail address as important as getting a phone number from your customer. Remember to ask if they would like to be on the list.
- Phone inquiries. Is someone calling in to inquire about renting an item or putting something on hold? Ask for an e-mail address.
- Web site. A prominently placed e-mail sign-up box is key to collecting e-mail addresses online.
- Local trade shows. Collecting business cards from event planners, caterers, food service companies, hospitals, clubs, schools, churches, homeowners and contractors at local trade shows can help to build repeat visitors through a good e-mail communication strategy.
- Develop your content. What do you want your e-mails to convey to your customers? Determine what you want your e-mails to say. You may want to provide information about specials, new equipment you’ve added to your inventory, testimonials or “how to” articles showing how your equipment can be used.
- Pay attention to preparation details. Now that you’ve established your objectives, chosen your vendors and built your list you’re ready to send, right? Not quite. You must:
- Determine the goal of each campaign. Also ensure that you have content and creative to match the goal.
- Make sure that your Web site’s landing page matches the look of your e-mail. Also, make sure your home page coordinates with your e-mail campaign, if that is what you are linking to.
E-mail marketing can help to establish a personal relationship with customers and keep your company at the top of their minds when planning their next project or event. The key factor to remember in developing your e-mail correspondence, whether it is a promotional e-mail or informative e-newsletter, is relevance. Provide a reason for your customer to open and interact with the e-mail. By following these tips and guidelines, your company will be well on its way to a successful e-mail marketing program.