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Email marketing can be an important component of a marketing campaign. Sending emails to your clients and prospective clients is a great way to stay in touch frequently and at a low cost. Two caveats:

  1. Email messages often has a low perceived value and low credibility, so don’t rely on it exclusively as your only advertising.
  2. Email to purchased lists has a very low open rate and return rate to go along with that low cost. The best use of email is to people who have “opted in” or requested to receive regular messages from you. Make sure the information you deliver is high-quality, valuable information and education on a relevant topic, not just “buy my stuff” sales messages. 🙂

People ask us often about email software.

There are many good packages on the market, the important thing is that you use one of them.  Today we’ll be talking about a few of the features you’ll want to use most, including:

  • Web forms
  • Tracking
  • Ability to schedule emails
  • Autoresponders (automated series of emails)
  • Templates
  • Photo Storage
  • Ability to personalize emails
  • “SPAM Trigger” detectors
  • Contact Management

Don’t Use Outlook for Broadcast Emails!

Seriously, there are small businesses who try to use Outlook or other personal email programs to send broadcast emails to a list.  This has several problems:

1)      They lack functionality for tracking how many people are opening your emails or tracking statistics across campaigns. This is vital information to see how a particular email is received by your prospective customers.

2)      They seldom include an “unsubscribe” link or a physical address, both requirements of the CAN-SPAM regulations.   This can get you into legal trouble or at least get you in trouble with your internet provider for violation of terms of service.

3)      They are not scaled to manage a list of the size required to run a marketing campaign.

Web Forms

We recommend that you include a form on your website to capture information from visitors.  In most cases, you’ll need to offer something of value in exchange for “registering” or providing contact information.  This is an excellent way to grow your list of prospective customers.

Offer a downloadable product such as a high-value, well-written ebook, white paper or special report on a topic that your prospective customers may be having is one of the best ways to do this. You can set up your email software to display a “thank you” page after people have provided their contact information, and you can provide a link to your downloadable ebook or report from the Thank You page.

This saves time and money.

An alternative idea, and one that differentiates you from competitors that offer a downloadable product (or nothing!) is to offer to send a physical product (such as a book, brochure or sample) to people who sign up on your website.  If you’re going to send them something in the mail, you are more likely to get a good postal address, which will help in future marketing efforts as well.

Tracking

You’ll want to know how many emails were actually delivered,  and how many “bounced.”  You will want to know how many people opened a particular email.  You may even want to know exactly who opened a particular email.

 

Templates

Some email packages come with rather elaborate templates so that you can format your email message like a newsletter with several columns. We don’t usually recommend these, since many of your readers will be using devices like tablets or phones that don’t have a huge screen size.

Simple is usually best.

However, it is excellent to be able to include a header image, logos, fonts, and colors to be consistent with your company’s branding.   Again, the simpler the better, since we don’t know what type of device people will use to read your message. We recommend a screen size of not wider than 800 pixels.

 Photo Storage

Some packages include a certain amount of space on the email server so that you can store images that you use in emails. We recommend using not more than one or two images per email, not counting things like small social media icons.

Storing them on the email server ensures that they will be delivered to your reader, and are less likely to show up as broken images or little blank squares with a red x in them.

 Ability to Schedule Future Emails

It is best to deliver emails to your list on a regular schedule.  This communicates  that you are consistent, methodical company that is interested in a long-term relationship with a prospective customer and that you’re interested in educating them about a subject, not just selling them a product.

Having a newsletter that is delivered on a particular day of the week or the month is great for your readers, but can be inconvenient for you to write and send on a particular schedule.  With most email packages, you can compose an email today and set it up to have it delivered on Wednesday morning at 9:00 a.m.   Better yet, you can compose four emails and have them delivered every Wednesday next month at 9:00 a.m.

This is a huge time-saver and consistency-builder in your marketing system.

AutoResponders

Autoresponders are emails that you write once and set up to run on a predetermined schedule.

If someone requests information on one of your products, as an example, you can deliver a series of emails on that topic via “autoresponder.”

These can be designed as a series of “tip of the week” emails, or as a “short course on inventory management” where you deliver information in manageable doses to educate and inform potential customers about an issue and about your product.

Setting up a set of three, five, seven or ten emails, often triggered by a visitor filling out a form on your website, is an autoresponder.

Not sure what to write?   ABCI can write an autoresponder series for you! Call or write us for details.

Personalize Emails

Getting an email to “Dear Friend” instantly marks a message as SPAM.   We expect to be called by name, even in automated communications these days.

 

Inserting customized information such  a person’s first name, last name, salutation, or even other details (such as the make of aircraft they own or the date of their next service) can make a broadcast email feel a lot more personal.

Analyzes email drafts for “SPAM triggers”

If an email contains the word “home mortgage” or “Viagra,” it is very likely that many subscribers won’t receive it.  Their email provider will intercept it and route it to their Junk Folder before they ever see it.  Some of these “SPAM triggers” are common sense, others may not be.   Good email software often includes a feature that evaluates the draft of an email message and makes suggestions to make your message more likely to be delivered.

Contact Management

A contact management system keeps track of each interaction (letter, phone call, email, or personal interaction) with a contact or prospective customer.

n addition to tracking contact information, these systems allow you to take extensive notes about a contact’s concerns, questions, desires, and so on. It also allows you to schedule a follow up on a particular date, and assign prospective customers to particular groups – like contacts that plan to purchase in the next week, month or year.  Based on those groups, you may choose to apply a different time line of interactions as appropriate.

Here’s a sample timeline you might use for a specific set of contacts:

 

A contact management system is vital to a successful marketing system. The question is simply whether to use a system that is integrated with an email broadcasting system, or to use a contact management system that is separate (such as ACT or HighRise.)

ABCI prefers an  integrated system because it saves me work. It costs more, but it costs  the same or less than buying both a contact management system and an email broadcasting system.

 

Constant Contact (easier & cheaper), InfusionSoft (industrial-strength!)

 

 

InfusionSoft

Constant Contact

MailChimp

Web forms

Yes

Yes

Programmable API

Autoresponders

Yes

Three

Yes

Templates

Yes

Yes

Yes

Photo Storage

Yes

Yes

Yes

Ability to schedule future emails

Yes

Yes

Yes

Detailed reports (being able to see who has opened an email, etc.)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Personalize Emails (Merge fields

Yes

Yes

Yes

Analyzes emails for spam “triggers”

Yes

Yes

Yes

Contact Management

Yes

No

No

Pricing

$199 and up/month

$15 and up/month

$15 and up/month

Recommendation

Best choice for companies with a list of over 500 prospects that need contact management.

Best choice for startups with lists smaller than 500.

Good choice.

 

There are other programs on the market, of course, such as SalesForce, Emma, AWeber and so on.   We haven’t used them enough recently to evaluate or recommend them.

Putting it All Together

Now that you’re “armed and dangerous” with a great email software program, join us in the Aviation Marketing Master Class  – we will show you how to compose a newsletter to keep your company top of mind with a prospective client until they are ready to buy, how to build an autoresponder that educates your customers about your products and services in helpful manner,  and how and when to close the sale with a powerful sales message.

Our topic for October:

Keeping Prospects Interested – Advanced Pre-Sale and Closing Activities

  • Newsletters – formats, options, and how to get it done
  • “Drip Campaigns” – via email or direct mail
  • When to upsell, downsell or change the offering

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