4 Steps to a Fast, Free and Effective Email Marketing Program

Email is a tactic that's often overlooked by many small businesses -- and that's a shame. Why? First of all, because email is so effective as a sales tool -- in a recent DMA study (2012), 67% of respondents identified email as providing the best ROI of any tactic (more than twice the response of any other tactic).

Email is also incredibly simple to set up, free and can make a real difference in how your acquire and maintain your customer relationships. Read on for four simple steps to beginning your own email marketing program -- and give email a try! 

And don't miss this upcoming live session on building your email marketing program! 

Using Email Marketing to Generate Leads and Build Your Business

​Date and Time: Wednesday, September 24, 1PM Eastern

RSVP on Google+

Just about everyone in business should be using email marketing -- so are you making the most of it? In this session, we'll talk about using email marketing to build a stronger database of leads, keep in touch with your existing customer base, and make more sales and revenue.

1. Select an Email Platform

There are many options out there: from iContact to Vertical Response to Constant Contact to Sailthru, most email service providers will allow you perform similar operations such as:
  • Creating sign-up forms that you can easily embed in your website
  • Create and manage multiple lists. Do you want to have separate lists for "customers" and "leads." With multiple lists you can do that. 
  • Create HTML emails without knowing how to code. HTML emails are what allow you to create stylish emails that match your branding and have pictures and other visual elements like colored backgrounds and dividers. 
  • Track your performance. Your email service provider will give you analytics to gauge the success of your campaigns. 

A great option for small businesses just starting out is MailChimp. Not only is the service very user-friendly, but it will allow you to build a list of up to 2,000 contacts without paying for the service. Sign up here. 

2. Put Together Your First Email

Once you've set up an email service provider and imported your list of customers, clients and other contacts, you'll want to send an email. 

What to include? Here are a few ideas: 
  • People hate to be sold to, so consider offering your contacts valuable information they can use. Here's a great example of an email newsletter built on valuable content. 
  • That said, discounts and special sales opportunities may be valued by your audience, when deployed strategically. 
  • Do you have a blog? Consider sending regular updates of new content.

3. Grow Your List

 How do you successfully grow your list? Make sure that you are covering the basics -- you have a signup form on your site and you regularly remind people to sign up via social media. 

But if you really want to grow your list, do think of special incentives. Can you write an ebook, or offer exclusive access to a video? Your email subscribers are some of the most important supporters of your business, so go out of your way to offer them incentives to stay interested and engaged in your content. 

More on growing a list here. 

4. Keep Sending Emails

Don't let your list grow "cold" via inactivity. Be sure to craft compelling content and draft an editorial strategy that helps your get content out in a timely fashion. Plan promotions and incentives that help reward your subscribers for their attention and loyalty. 

Most of all, keep growing that list -- it can be the difference between a business that makes regular sales and one that struggles. 
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