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The other (social) media

Email

Email is one of the key weapons in the inbound marketer’s arsenal.

How many email newsletters do you subscribe to? Me? Well… I’ve lost count.

Email marketing remains one of the most powerful tools in the inbound marketer’s arsenal. You may have been thinking about an e-newsletter for your own business; you certainly receive plenty of them so why not send one out to your own customers?

Directly contacting a customer with your latest articles, products, news and events is certainly an effective way to connect and build brand awareness. An e-newsletter allows you to make contact without coming on too strong.

Where to start?

Well, here’s the challenge: content. (It’s called content marketing for a reason!).

Content is by far the most crucial element of any email campaign (and by campaign I mean a marketing exercise to grow your business and engage your customers, maintaining your brand as “top of mind” when making future purchasing decisions in your sector. Not to be confused with an advertising campaign).

Content creation is the bread and butter of what I do here at JMC. I write and write and write on topics from fish to feminism, socks to silver.

Design is fun but writing is the core business that keeps me ticking along.

Why? Because so many clients find it a challenge to create quality content to populate their e-newsletter to their customers every. single. week.

As a copywriter I find writing an enjoyable and creative process but I’m not going to lie, it’s hard work, which is why so many people outsource (and why wouldn’t you?).

Firstly you need to develop an idea of what you’re going to write about, research the topic and write 400-700 grammatically-correct, typo-free, keyword-rich, email-friendly words on that subject (and don’t forget an enticing, subject line or all your hard work could be for nought).

Your content needs to be interesting and engaging: think about what your customers interested in. What are your most popular products? How are your customers using your products? What are you interested in (there’s a lot to be said for people who are passionate about what they do)? Where is your industry headed? What concerns are there in the marketplace at the moment?

Create a calendar around any new product launches, events and promotions you might be running in the next few months: develop content in the lead-up to that event or promotion that will pique the interest of your customers or develop an understanding (and a want/need) of that product.

When working with clients, together we devise what’s known as an “editorial calendar”: a list of what I’m going to write about and when, over the next 6 months. It doesn’t have to be specific but it really helps to know where you’re headed. We refine the final content plan about 2 weeks out from the publish date.

When you consider an email marketing campaign consider your end-user when scheduling your posts. At least once a week would be my recommendation; daily is too much (and if I am on your email subscriber list and you email me daily, unless you are providing me with awesome, relevant content I will unsubscribe!) and monthly too infrequent.

I have written about this before but the timing of your emails is crucial to whether they’ll be read, clicked, shared or deleted! As we’ve become more reliant on our smartphones and tablets, 80% of users report reading emails on mobile devices. Saturdays and Sundays now have the highest click-through rates (CTR) of any other day – when I was at Uni it was Thursdays but with the rise of smartphones, etc. it’s changed the way we use email. Interestingly, Tuesday has the highest unsubscribe rate of the week.

The time of day also affects the CTR – 7am is the best time to send an email, followed by lunch time, then the hours after 7pm. No surprises there but think about your market: for example, if you’re in the building sector, most tradies are already working at 7am and have an earlier lunch and knock-off than white collar workers.

As with all marketing, put yourself in the place of your best customer.

Another tip: utilise an email management platform such as mailchimp.com to design, develop and distribute your email messages. Using such a platform you can schedule your emails, maintain your list, personalise your greeting (increases CTR) make sure they look beautiful and (using the correct template) your email messages will be responsive to the various mobile devices. Also, email management platforms automatically integrate social media follows/shares as well as covering the essential anti-spam opt-out options.

Please, if you’re going to go down the email-marketing path be sure to double your exposure and use your articles as blog posts. Integrate them into your website. It maximises your search engine optimisation, positions you as an expert in your field and reassures customers that you know what you’re talking about.

Always remember, email marketing is just one element of the online and offline marketing mix.

By far the best thing you can do for your business is provide an excellent product and exceptional customer service (and use your e-newsletter to remind your customers how good you are).

Of course, if you need any assistance in the area of content creation, you know who to ask.

PS – The law is very clear about emailing people: you must obtain the recipient’s permission. If you would like to contact previous or current customers on your database, you’ll need to do a ring/email-around before contacting sending them an e-newsletter. See it as a great excuse to re-connect!

And of course, ensure you have a sign up form on your home page!

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About Jane McKay @janemckaycomms

I’m Jane. I write. I design. I create. In 2009, following a tree-change to sunny East Gippsland, I realised a dream and started my own business through which I have freelanced my marketing services ever since. I understand that marketing your business can be overwhelming, overcomplicated and often overlooked. That’s why I’m here. With a range of expertise built on a Masters in Media and Communications and derived from more than 8 years’ industry experience working with small companies as well as large multi-nationals, I help businesses grow. A creative soul with a strong geek side, I combine my love of wordsmithing with an interest in all things design- and tech-related.The perfect combination of skills for my career in creative marketing.

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