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Launch an E-mail Marketing Campaign in 7 Steps

E-newsletters remain an effective tool for deepening relationships.
July 27, 2010
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/207662

E-mail marketing has evolved, moving from simple one-way messages and autoresponders (now referred to as e-mail 1.0) to a much more sophisticated way of communicating with your customers referred to as e-mail 2.0. Thanks to advances in technology, entrepreneurs now have the ability to tailor the messages they send based on their customers' interests, preferences and purchase history--and targeted e-mails yield greater results.

With all the capabilities now available in e-mail marketing systems, there are a few basic things you need to know about e-mail marketing to build deeper relationships with your customers to increase revenues, grow your business and get ahead of your competition.

Here are seven steps to creating and launching a successful e-mail marketing 2.0 campaign.

No. 1: Choose the Right E-mail Marketing Software System
CRM 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. Infusionsoft offers complete CRM capabilities, which include not only database and campaign management but also offer information on interest, preference and purchase behaviors so that you can tailor your message and campaigns. Other systems, such as Mail Chimp , Constant Contact and AWeber offer more basic e-mail database and campaign management services. 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.

No. 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. I suggest two e-mails per month maximum. It's not about e-mail quantity; it's about quality.

No. 3: Set up Contact Information Capture Forms
It's easy to add forms to your website or blog to allow visitors to give you their contact information, such as e-mail address, name and phone number.

No. 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.

No. 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.

No. 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.

Triggers are used to send clients into a new sales cycle based on topic. (Think Amazon and "Today's Recommendations for You.")

No. 7: Monitor Results
Once per month, look at 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.

Not only has e-mail technology and software evolved, but the way people use it to communicate has changed how entrepreneurs and small-business owners market and grow their businesses. While companies like Ben & Jerry's are getting attention for dropping their e-mail campaigns, don't let that fool you. E-mail 2.0 marketing is an effective way to increase relationships, response rates and conversions through smart, targeted communication.