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NMOA Direct Marketing Article

10 Tips to Improve Email Marketing and Grow Your Business
By Greg Brown, Director of Marketing at Melissa Data

We've all heard of email marketing, but it can appear daunting with all the laws, spam filters, and confusion over the best method to use. Whether you're an e-marketing novice or you've tried it before, learning the tricks of the trade can make the process more comfortable and successful. After reviewing the campaigns we've run for customers, we came up with the following 10 tips to get the best results from your email marketing campaigns:

1) Start with the reader's point of view in mind - this may seem obvious, but you have to approach all marketing from a reader's point of view. This is especially true for email marketing, where the recipient will judge usually within seconds whether they want to open your email. If you yourself would not open it if it came to you, chances are your readers won't either. But that doesn't mean it's hopeless. Just think of something that would draw their attention and go with that!

2) Choose a compelling subject line - this is probably the biggest success factor in getting yourself exposed. Remember, no one will see all you have to offer them if they don't open your email, and they will choose whether to open it based on the subject line. A catchy subject line can be a little creative, or very to-the-point if you are advertising a basic need that everyone can use (i.e. "Reliable Local Plumber"). What you might view as your best benefit may not be the best subject line, because remember; readers need to trust you in order to open your mail. You can get to the rest within the body.

3) Structure your email body right - this is more complex, but very important. Once again, you need to look from the reader's point of view, and think about their eye flow as they read. This might mean leaving wordy information for the end of the email and instead starting with a compelling question, offer, or great benefit to capture the reader's attention. A few pictures can enhance your email, but remember it is not a website. Too much content will overwhelm the reader and they will get bored quickly.

4) Think strategically - as a business owner/manager, you must market yourself based on the real best reason to do business with you. There might be many impressive aspects to your company, but think about the reason people will actually choose to buy. This can really be different than your first instinct on email marketing.

5) Lead the reader intuitively to buy - Some of the best emails I've seen give very compelling reasons and very naturally convince you to "click here" for more information or to get the stellar offer they advertise. Simply putting a link to your website will not give you as many clicks/sales.

6) Pick your target market effectively - this means choosing a large enough market for you to get results, in the right areas, and with the best demographic information (if applicable). Really think through who your current customers are, and who you'd like to reach - meaning who do you think would be your next most likely customers? This might not be simply residents nearest your place of business; it could in fact be a more family-oriented suburb a couple of ZIP Codes over, for instance. You also might wish to expand your radius to really saturate your target area.

7) Repetition is key - Email marketing studies have shown that most prospects must see the same or similar email three to seven times in order to buy. Don't give up after one or two email campaigns that don't get the initial results you are looking for. Remember, it takes time for a new prospect to grow used to seeing your offer, and to trust you. It won't happen if they only see your emails once or twice, but persistence and continued relevance can and will pay off!

8) Make a good offer - an informational or benefit-driven email is usually not enough. A good offer will entice the reader to act - especially if it is a limited time offer. This creates urgency which drives buying behavior. Typical "limited time only offers" include a dollar-value savings, or giving something away free that is inexpensive for you but of value to your prospects. If your offer is "a percentage off" remember to include the original price these types of offers aren't as effective unless the reader knows what the initial cost is so they know how much they are saving.

9) Include some information, but not too much - if your industry is one that people may not know much about, it is important to educate them. Give them the most basic information, often what you take for granted, but which might be interesting to them - i.e. benefits of creative childcare, key financial information, or steps to take when looking for a new car. However, don't give too much away, or your reader will simply use your information without having a need to follow up with you first.

10) Find a convenient sending solution - most small to medium sized businesses are not set up for mass email marketing, but it has a payoff in terms of the reach, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. Most mass email providers will only let you send to your current customers from your own opt-in list, but you want to reach new people too. There are companies that can do the whole process for you; from design to supplying the email lists to sending your emails and tracking your results (while still staying CAN-SPAM compliant).

About the Author:
Greg Brown is Director of Marketing at Melissa Data, a direct marketing software and services company. Having worked for over 10-years on both the client and agency side, Greg brings a unique perspective to developing creative, results-oriented marketing programs to acquire and retain customers.


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