Tips for better email campaigns

by Shannon F.

It doesn’t matter whether you are selling commercial real estate, reams of paper, or your services as a consultant—prospecting is an integral part of growing your business. Prospecting often comes with predatory associations (in the past, you may have rolled your eyes at comparisons to tracking game and hunting down your prey). But pursuing potential customers should be much more convivial than that—think prospecting for vegetarians. Email marketing is a less-invasive way to introduce your product or service to customers who may be in the market for it. Of course, you have to do it right. Here are some tips to convert your email list into customers, or at least keep them from hitting “mark as spam” and damaging your reputation as an email marketer.

1. Don’t try to sell…yet. If you are making contact with a prospect for the first time via email, focus on engaging him or her. Offer free information, like an article or factsheet. Provide a link to your blog, and invite prospects to follow you on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. (It’s also a good idea to ask prospects to opt in to receiving similar emails from you in the future—this deters them from marking your messages as spam.) Whatever you do, don’t start pitching your product—it’s like proposing marriage on a first date. Stick to friendly small talk in the beginning, and watch how your relationship grows.

2. Choose your words carefully. There are certain words that trigger “spam” in the minds of most readers. According to a popular email marketing service, “Dear” is one of them. They recommend that you start your message with “Howdy,” “Hi there,” or almost any other phrase. We suggest using words and phrases like “free,” “limited time only,” “guarantee,” “special offer,” and “Nigerian money-making opportunity” sparingly in your emails, particularly in the subject line. In other words, leave your slick sales vocabulary out of it. Think of your emails as direct, honest communications between regular people.

3. Give your email a critical once-over. Before sending an email campaign, ask yourself if any red flags would go up if you were on the receiving end of the message. Have you proofread your work, or are there typos and inconsistencies? Is the design cluttered, or have you used a clean and attractive template? Email don’ts that we’ve seen include: images with the watermarks still on them, text blocks the length of a novel, and clashing colors or design elements.

4. Don’t overdo it. There is probably a company that emails you every single day, whether you’re interested or not. Perhaps one of these days, you’ll open an email from that company, like what you see, and choose to purchase the product being advertised. But more likely, you’ll reach the end of your rope and unsubscribe or, worse, mark the recurring messages as spam. We recommend emailing prospects no more than once a week. Also, don’t just send blindly…

5. Be responsive. Your marketing message should change depending on a prospect’s actions, so don’t keep sending the same emails to everyone in your list. If a recipient opens your introductory message, or better yet, clicks a link to your blog and spends half an hour browsing through posts, you likely have a warm prospect on your hands. Sort recipients into “opened” lists and “clicked” lists, and follow up on these lists separately. Also, don’t hesitate to send personalized messages to interested prospects, asking them if there’s anything you can help with. Your CRM should make it easy to communicate with prospects on an individual basis.

What email marketing challenges have you experienced? Comment below or send your questions to [email protected]

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