Introduction - Why Email Marketing?
Email marketing is is one of the most effective digital marketing channels. It is independent from any specific platform and when used correctly can generate sales revenue quickly and consistently.
The key benefits of email marketing are as follows:
Getting started can however appear difficult and complicated if you have never done it before. In this blog post I aim to break it down in to several steps to help get you started and will only use popular tools that are free to setup.
Step 1 - Deciding on a Theme for your Email Campaign
Deciding on a theme for your campaign is a critical step. If you decide to run a campaign that no one is interested in then only a few, if any, people will subscribe to your list. Many of the clients I have worked with are tempted to skimp on this first step, focusing instead on other more exciting elements like the design or the list.
Don't skimp. Go in to a quiet room on your own or with colleagues, have a good think and come up with a brilliant idea! Believe me, I have seen many boring campaigns, executed perfectly, get zero traction and when this happens, almost without exception, people tend to blame the data.
If this is your first email list then you will need to offer something to people that is of value. It is important to note that the people interacting with your campaign may have never heard of you or your brand/company before so they will need a good reason to give you their email address.
To create a theme for your campaign that is relevant to your target audience you need to understand your target audience. You need to know what solutions they need, what help they are looking for and so on. What is of value to your target audience right now? If you are in doubt, try calling a few prospects/customers and asking them. If you don't have any then join online forums and ask the members what they are struggling with right now.
I find that my audience often struggles with checklists, they require time to build and can be tedious so for my campaign I will offer a free email campaign checklist as a download people can get when they sign-up. This checklist has taken me about 2 years to perfect and it works well for me with over 100 small tasks relevant to each and every campaign I run. I will make this checklist available to people free of charge as an incentive to sign up.
I will promote my landing page where my target audience congregates using text for context and a link to a landing page then allow people to sign up for free and get a link to the checklist by email - this email is often referred to as a "Welcome message" as it is the first message they will receive from me when the sign up.
My campaign has the following 4 steps in total:
Once signed up I will then send my audience future emails that for instance promote my solutions, products and/or services.
A few of examples of good campaigns I have found are as follows:
Step 2 - Building an Email List
First of all, what is an email list? Well, in short, an email list is a list of email addresses (and other fields) belonging to a people who have either subscribed to receive information from you or that you have purchased/leased from a third party data broker.
Should I buy an email list or build my own?
In short, you should be doing both. Building your own email list takes time but your own subscribers will be more engaged in your brand and product. Buying an email list will allow you to get going faster but those on the list will be less engaged. Many of the clients I work with do both consistently. They are building an audience of their own whilst simultaneously buying relevant lists as and when they become available.
It is important to note that certain email marketing solutions like Mailchimp will not allow users to upload purchased data. If therefore you are purchasing a list you must use an email marketing solution that allows third party data. If you upload purchased data in to Mailchimp, your account may be at risk.
I will be covering off in a future blog the process of buying and sending to a bought list.
First things first however, you will need a couple of tools to help you build your list. A tool to host your landing page (unbounce) and a tool to store the list and deliver your campaign (Mailchimp).
Why do we need a landing page?
A landing page will be where you direct those people interested in joining your email list. You need to direct them to a specific page on the web where they can give you their email address and perhaps other fields like first name, last name, company name and so on.
I am using Unbounce because I am familiar with it, I have used it for many years but there are many different tools available that do the same job such as Instapage and LeadPages. Mailchimp even have their own landing page feature.
How to register for an Unbounce free plan.
If you choose to use Unbounce then click on the following link and register for an account. Unbounce do have a free plan but it is quite well hidden. In short, it is an inactive Essential plan. To get to it, you need to register for the Essential plan ($99/month) then downgrade to free. You will have a traffic limit of 200 visits to your page and 5 published pages with the unbounce logo on them. This is fine to get started with however, should things get busy you can always upgrade later.
Register for an Unbounce account then move on to creating a Mailchimp* account.
*It is important to note that Mailchimp also offers a landing page tool however I like Unbounce and am familiar with it. It works for me.
How to register for a Mailchimp account.
Simply go to Mailchimp.com and click on the "Sign Up Free" button, enter your email address, create a username and enter a password. It is important to note that GDPR is now in effect across Europe, in the UK it is referred to as the DPA 2018 (Data Protection Act 2018) and as you will be managing personal information (i.e. information that can be used to identify a living individual, you will need to make sure you protect the data you collect as best you can. This means using a good strong password to access your Unbounce and Mailchimp accounts. Do not use the same passwords, include special characters, a mix of numbers and characters and of course upper and lower case. Applications like Lastpass can help you create and remember the passwords you use.
Mailchimp offers a free plan that allows you to create an Audience (Mailchimp talk for email list) of up to 2,000 contacts,
Once you have created your Mailchimp account you will need to create your Audience, this is the list where you will store your email subscribers. To do this go to Audience > Manage Audience > View Audiences > Create Audience > Create Audience.
Mailchimp are not keen on too many audiences, they will suggest using tags but this is not relevant to us, As this is our first Audience, just hit Create Audience.
Complete the fields as follows:
Step 3 - Creating a Landing Page
Just to recap quickly, if you have followed the steps above you should have completed the following:
Create a landing page
Log in to your Unbounce account and hit "Create New" - I like the templates that Unbounce make available, they are responsive which means they look good on mobile devices and desktops or tablets which is important.
Browse the templates available and select one that suits your campaign then enter a name and hit "Start with this template". At this stage you can ignore Popups, Sticky Bars and AMP and stick with Landing Pages.
Once you have selected your landing page template you can get about personalising it with your own text and images, an example of mine is as follows:
Once you have edited your landing page you need to integrate it with your Mailchimp account and connect it to your brand new Audience. To do this, make sure you are viewing the "Overview" page of your Landing Page on Unbounce and slect "Integrations". You will then see a number of different applications you can integrate with, select "Mailchimp".
When you select Mailchimp you will be asked to enter your Mailchimp username and password in order to establish the integration then select the Audience and finally configure the field mapping. i.e. First Name goes to fname, Email Address goes to email and so on.
Once you have completed this field mapping you can go ahead and publish your landing page and test the form to make sure it is sending registered email addresses to your Audience in Mailchimp.
Step 3 - Create a Welcome Message in Mailchimp
If you are sending a free download, coupon or similar digital asset you will need to create an Automated Campaign in Mailchimp that will fire each time a person signs up. To do this, select Create > Email > Automated > Welcome new subscribers and enter a Campaign Name and the Audience you would like to send this email to and hit "Begin". Mailchimp will now take you through the steps of creating your Welcome message, in this message you can include a link to your digital asset like I have done in the example below.
Step 4 - Promoting Your Campaign To Build Your List
Promoting your campaign (landing page) is another critical element. If you do not get your campaign out there in front of your audience then no one will register, right. To do this I look through Facebook groups and other communities like Reddit, Quora, LinkedIn, Twitter for conversations about the topic I am involved in and then begin to publish articles, answers and comments that link to my landing page.
As people read the article they find my comment and the link I am promoting and if of value they will click through on it to my landing page and sign up. It is important to note however that not everyone signs up that visits your landing page. Remember the following:
If you have followed all the above steps you should start getting a few people sign up to your list. If you have targeted the right audience, the people registering will be the right people and your future campaigns to them should be relevant to them.
Keep promoting your landing page on any relevant networks, even just ten minutes a day of research can help build up over time to a good sized list that generates good returns.
If I were asked what the single most important piece of the campaign is I would say the campaign idea followed by the promotion. If you create highly relevant content and promote it to a targeted audience, you will build up a good list quickly.
Good luck (oh and if you found this guide useful then don't forget to subscribe below for more)