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How to launch an effective email campaign in 7 steps

What you need to know before you click \\\'send\\\'
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Sending out emails is one of the subtlest and direct forms of marketing. Subtle in the sense that the option to open or not to open an email still lies with the recipient, and direct as it is sent through the recipients email account.

But will just any other email message be effective? The answer is no.

An email blast may seem simple but it is a complex balance of things with a mix of trial and error. Entrepreneur.com has listed down seven useful tips that will help you use email blast effectively for your business.

Below are seven steps to creating and launching a successful e-mail marketing campaign.

Step 1: Choose the right e-mail marketing software system
Email systems can range from simple database models to more complex systems that include sales force management, shopping carts, affiliate programs and e-mail behavior campaigns. Decide what capabilities you want and use a checklist to compare systems. Most e-mail programs have training and free support to guide you through the learning process.

Step 2: Build a list
Even if you only have 10 e-mail addresses, you need to start somewhere. Add those to your database. Once you have your list started, make sure that you launch a campaign to keep in touch and in front of your contacts without overwhelming their inbox. You should consider sending two e-mails per month maximum. It\\\'s not about e-mail quantity; it\\\'s about quality.

Step 3: Set up contact information capture forms
It\\\'s easy to add forms to your web site or blog to allow visitors to give you their contact information, such as e-mail address, name and phone number.

Step 4: Decide what you want to accomplish
Before you launch your first campaign, you need to decide what it is that you want to accomplish. Do you want to deepen the quality of relationships, take your list through the sales cycle, educate them? Why are you sending your e-mails? Set clear goals before you send your first e-mail, and build your messages and campaign around those goals.

Step 5: Set up autorespond e-mails
Set up at least six e-mails that will automatically release on the dates and times you choose to send out to your list. Keep them short, simple and to the point. Do not make them "sales pitchy"; use autorespond e-mails to educate and build relationships, and the rest will follow. Make sure that each autorespond e-mail has several links for more information. This is how you will gauge their interest and determine how to keep marketing to them.

Step 6: Add triggers to e-mails
Here\\\'s an example of a trigger: Your client clicks on a link in one of the e-mails you sent her about your product or service. As soon as she clicks on that link, it automatically triggers the release of a message sending her information about a similar product or service based on the original link.

Step 7: Monitor results
Once a month, refer to the reporting metrics to see which e-mails are more effective and have a higher rate of opening as well as click-through. Use the lessons learned to build your next campaign. It\\\'s important to know how your list is responding to the e-mails that you send. If you aren\\\'t getting a good click-through response, the problem is either the quality of your message or the topic. Test a few e-mails with your top customers to see what they respond to and what they don\\\'t respond to. One common test is to send the same message with several different subject lines to see what your list favors. Offer recipients a discount on services for their time.

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