Are you interested in launching an email marketing campaign, but unsure where and how to begin? You're not alone. Every day, entrepreneurs like yourself come to the realization that they are missing out on a big marketing opportunity if they aren't using email as a way to reach out to their customers. The following paragraphs contain some 'get you started' advice for building an effective email marketing campaign.

Understand the Purpose of Email Marketing

The first mistake many business owners make when starting an email marketing campaign is focusing too strongly on sales. While direct sales can be a part of an email marketing effort, it should never be the primary purpose. Instead, the concentration should be on creating and maintaining positive customer relationships. Rather than sending emails advertising your company's goods or services, try some of these techniques:

  • Write and publish a monthly newsletter to be emailed to your clients. Within the newsletter include useful, industry related content, notices of upcoming events and special offers, and a personal message from the CEO. In addition to the content, always make sure that the newsletter contains the company logo, contact information, links to the company's website and social media pages.
  • Send an email once every week or two inviting purchasers to visit your company's Facebook page. Include a teaser linking to new social media updates. Invite your customers to like, comment on, and follow your page.
  • If you have a blog that you update on a regular basis, or if you post video content on Vimeo or YouTube, send emails letting your guests know when there is new content for them to read or view.

 Concentrate Your Efforts on Your Existing Client Base

If there is any drawback to email marketing? Yes, it is simply not a very effective tool for customer conversion. Now, that statement should not be interpreted to mean that email marketing never results in new buyers. It's efforts can and have resulted in an increased customer base, but this rarely happens directly. As mentioned above, a good campaign is all about facilitating positive relationships. One of the fruits of these positive relationships is recommendations, and positive customer reviews.

 Use Customer Relationship Management Software

In order to effectively launch an email marketing campaign, you must know who your clients are and how to contact them. This is where a reliable Customer Relationship Management (CRM) package comes in handy. There are several, reliable CRM packages for sale if you need a robust package along with support. However, if your budget requires something a little more 'bare-boned', there are also CRM packages that can be downloaded as freeware or shareware. At the very least, your CRM package should allow you to input, maintain, and store customer contact information. An excellent package will also include:

  • The option to input and store useful information such as birth date, hobbies and interests, relevant preferences, fraternal or other memberships, and customer service notes
  • Links to the his/her personal or business website, and/or social media pages if available
  • Customer rating (VIP, Preferred Customer, Loyalty Club Member)
  • The ability to generate reports and extract information into spreadsheets or other documents

 Don't Aggravate Your Clients

Even if you avoid hard sale tactics and spamming, you are going to have guests who do not wish to be contacted by email. This wish must always be respected, and failing to do so will result in the loss of at least one customer and likely more. When it comes to email marketing, the best practice is to use an opt-in approach. This means that marketing emails will only go to purchasers who have proactively requested them. If you do decide to go against this recommendation, you must provide your them with the ability to opt out or unsubscribe in each communication. In addition to this, you must act on customers' requests quickly. Your failure to do so can result in being gray listed by email providers or reported to your ISP. Here are a few other steps you can take to make your marketing emails more palatable to your base:

  • Send text based emails, not HTML based emails
  • Do not embed images, videos, or sound into your email. Link to that content and inform the clients that they will be clicking into a video or sound clip.
  • Do not send coupons as attachments. As with other content, store them on your server and make them accessible via a link for printing. Even better, use coupon codes instead.

 Optimize for Mobile Customers

Always remember that at least some of your guests will be viewing your emails through their mobile phones or tablets. Depending on your demographics and the industry you are in, it may even be that most of your buyers are using mobile devices. It is important to be sensitive to the unique technical needs of these customers. If you can identify which of them will be receiving communications via SMS text, remember that they will often have little bandwidth and that they may be forced to pay data charges to receive your content. Consider sending these customers abbreviated emails/texts with a link to the content that you want to share to them. Finally, make sure you test the format and size of your emails by viewing them through several mobile devices. After all, you want to make sure that all of your clients can read your communications.