• Jenni Fox - Smiling Catz Digital Marketing

Email is not dead!

Despite what we’ve been hearing for years, email is not dead. Even though it may be overshadowed by its more “glamorous” marketing counterparts (looking at you, social media, SMS, Google ads, etc.), email is still one of the most important marketing channels. Email is like the quiet, reserved sibling compared to the wild and crazy one – still important and relevant, even though it hangs around in the background and doesn’t get as much attention.

A good email program is a necessary part of your business. Here are some basic things to consider when establishing your email marketing program.

Will you hire someone like me to do your email marketing or will you attempt to do it yourself? While there are several DIY (Do It Yourself) email platforms out there (Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, etc.*), and some services are even free, email marketing is one of those channels best handed off to someone with experience. Besides the time it takes to create and send effective email campaigns, you also need to be aware of and adhere to the laws about collecting data and CAN-SPAM.

What email service platform (ESP) are you going to use? Again, there are DIY services out there, but another advantage of hiring someone with experience is that they will be able to help you to select the best platform for your current and future needs and goals. If you do decide to select an ESP on your own, make sure to do your research so that you pick the one that will serve you best currently and for what you may want to do in the future as your business expands.

Who is your audience, and what data do you want to collect from your customers? One of the most easily overlooked decisions when starting a business is to start immediately collecting data that will assist you in determining who your customers are and what they want from you! I’ve worked for million-dollar companies that collected nothing more from customers than basic contact information, because they never thought about how they could use data within their digital marketing channels. Think about what information will help you in marketing to your customers, and what data you can collect that will help you analyze those goals. This will also factor into your choice of an ESP, because some of the DIY platforms are very limited in what information you can collect.

What types of marketing campaigns will you send and how often? The kinds of campaigns and the number of times you send will be determined by a couple of factors – your business type and what information you can dispense to your customers. Some businesses, such as retail or restaurants, may want to send daily emails based on sales, promotions or specials. Others, such as legal or educational firms, may only want to send a weekly or monthly newsletter. The main thing to remember here is to email consistently, but “Don’t SPAM your clients!” If you have a legitimate offer or information to send, then do, but don’t send an email just to be sending something. Once your database starts growing, you will want to think about targeting even more. You may want to create dynamic campaigns, and do split testing, where you can send different types of information based on your customers’ needs, wants or actions.

Do you want to send auto-responses and how often? If you are asking customers to sign up on your website (and you should be!), then you should absolutely be sending an automated “Welcome” email upon their submission. Most platforms, even the DIY ones, will allow you to easily “set and forget” this type of campaign so that once you have it set up, you don’t have to think about it again unless you want to update the content. This is a perfect opportunity to reinforce your customer's decision to sign up with your company and to highlight information about your products and services. You may even include a coupon or discount for them to use on their first purchase. Additional automated campaigns can be set up based on certain actions by your customers – such as abandoned cart, thanks for purchase, etc.

Should you set up Drip campaigns? Drip campaigns are all about breaking your subscriber list into subsections and targeting information to niches of customers. While also automated, these campaigns rely on certain actions to take a customer through stages via a series of emails. For example, you can send an initial email with company/product info. If the recipient opens that email, you can send a 2nd email with additional information (a white paper, eBook, or promo perhaps). If they don’t open, you could send a video link, or a 2nd email with a more attention-grabbing hook. If they still don’t open, you can end the campaign, but if they do open, or click on a specific link, then you can send another email with more information, and so on. You can also create drip campaigns based on the way your customers react to certain content, or what links they click within the emails. I’ve included an example of a simple drip campaign above.

While there is a lot to know (and I am here to help you!), email should be the foundation of your digital marketing plan. It is one of the least expensive and easiest ways to reach your entire audience and keep them engaged, thus keeping your business top-of-mind. No matter what the rumors are, and have been for years, email is still alive and kicking!

*I do not receive any compensation for recommendations.