In the last newsletter we introduced digital marketing and took a look at blogging. This month we will look at email marketing and a few legal rules.
So what is it?
It is an effective and cheap way of keeping in touch with and updating your customers. Email marketing can range from a quick, simple, email to update on say product information to a professionally designed newsletter. But let's establish an important point early on: Spam is a nuisance, can damage the sender's reputation and is illegal. Ensure that people on your contact list have opted to receive emails from you and are given the opportunity to opt out, more on this later.
This is a large and growing area full of jargon, and I am not going to attempt to explain it all here but we will look at a few digital marketing tools to give you a flavour.
Let's look at email newsletters:
You can use one of a number of paid-for online service providers for your newsletter, such as VerticalResponse.com or constantcontact.com and others easily found on search engines. Some of which may provide templates if you don't have your own, may allow you to check who opens the emails to view them and allow you to send bulk mailings without upsetting your own ISP.
Some tips on content to get you started:
- Start with the customer: make sure you are sending information to the right people i.e. that they will find it useful and relevant to what they need.
- Emails are highly flexible so customise as much as you can for individuals and groups of customers.
- Grab the reader's attention with good quality headings that act as signposts to guide the reader through the newsletter.
- Give the reader a good reason to read past your opening sentences by using content that will interest them.
- Ensure that the content is accurate and relevant to the reader.
- Give the content careful thought, simply presenting an extension of your sales brochure will not be read with as much interest as a mix of product information and other useful information and tips. The latter will also help build your credibility.
- By all means include news about your company if that is relevant to your reader, but the bulk of the content should focus on how you can benefit your audience. Too many newsletters read like an in-house magazine and are a turn-off for the reader.
- Promote your newsletter in your other marketing activity - use an opt-in box.
- Create links in your newsletter to sections of your website.
- Encourage the reader to pass the newsletter to friends and colleagues etc.
- Be succinct, your readers will be busy people; get to the point early and keep it simple.
- Use HTML format for making your newsletter appear like a website, but also offer a simple text version for people whose email doesn't read HTML; you could also offer a PDF format. Let the recipient choose when they opt in to receiving your newsletter.
Frequency needs careful thought, too often can be counter productive and too infrequently might mean they will forget you.
As always the style of writing is important, it should fall somewhere between the formal style of your brochure and leaflets and the informality of your blog.
Call to action - tell the reader what to do next: click on...; call us on...; see us at... etc.
Some legal stuff:
- Include your company name and contact details.
- Information on pricing must be clear and unambiguous.
- Include an opt-out facility and act on op-out requests quickly.
- Only send to people that have consented by opting in. There are some exceptions to this i.e. where people have purchased from you, given you their email details and not opted out from receiving updates and newsletters or where you collect the customer's email address as part of the selling process. See www.ico.gov.uk for more on this.
- Keep the readership list confidential - create mail groups that don't show details of recipients.
- Make it clear that it is a commercial email either in the subject line or early in the main body.
- Observe distance selling and online trading rules - see businesslink.gov.uk for more details.
That's all for this month.
Business Link - the place to go for business support