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The No-Frills Email Marketing Survival Guide

email-marketing-cycle-is-smHow many promotional emails do you receive each day? Depending on how many lists you're signed up for, you might find a handful in your inbox - or a few dozen. These days, email marketing is among the most common means of online marketing and lead nurturing.

Unfortunately, email marketing's adaptive success - the fact that the vast majority of businesses use it - can also be its greatest weakness.

That's because consumers and corporate decision-makers are increasingly savvy about the messages that come across their desks. Even if they don't use inbox filters or automated folders to separate promotional emails from work or personal communications, they're adept at recognizing and filtering advertorial emails.

Without a clever, engaging email marketing campaign that cuts through the digital noise and tells your prospects what they want to hear, your promotional emails are at risk of being relegated to the trash bin more often than not.

This isn't to say that you shouldn't learn how to do email marketing the right way and invest a significant share of your total online marketing spend in an ongoing email campaign. In fact, well-executed email marketing campaigns remain wildly effective.

Whether you're looking to give an existing campaign a boost or curious about jumping into the email pond for the very first time, use this essential email marketing guide to mark your journey.

Step One: Segment Your Audience

Email marketing is most effective when it involves multiple, parallel campaigns targeted at specific segments of your customer base. To segment your audience effectively, conduct exhaustive research on your core buyer personas and architect product - or service-specific landing pages that each correspond to a separate email marketing campaign.

While you can cross-sell across these silos, pairing specific personas with specific products is likely to increase your marketing ROI.

Step Two: Set Realistic Goals

While every major league rookie dreams of hitting it out of the park on their very first at-bat, this barely ever happens. Email marketing is the same: Success takes time, diligence, and realistic expectations.

Before you launch your email marketing campaign, set target open and conversion rates using data from other online marketing campaigns. Keep in mind that email marketing conversion rates tend to be lower than some other forms of marketing. Also, remember that email marketing is important for lead nurturing, not just closing sales.

Step Three: Keep Prospects in the Loop

At some point, most email marketing users make a classic mistake: They fall into the habit of only sending out sales emails. In other words, they stop treating email like the comprehensive communication tool that it is and instead treat it like a digital billboard.

While some prospects have higher tolerances for overt marketing emails than others, few folks enjoy receiving them. If you're not careful, your campaign's one-note focus on "sales, sales, sales" will turn off a good chunk of your buyer base for good. When you really do need to make a sale, they won't be around.

The easiest way to avoid this is to send out regular email newsletters that have little to no overt sales content. A weekly newsletter is a great way to keep current customers and promising leads in the loop about the goings-on at your company, and educate them about trends affecting your industry.

Just like well-done white papers and thoughtful blog posts, high-quality newsletters convey authority and competency. Establishing your authority is just as important for lead nurturing as targeted emails designed specifically for that purpose.

Step Four: Use an Automation Suite

Marketing automation is all the rage these days. For busy business owners and marketing directors, it's a lifesaver. Using an automation suite can trim your marketing time by several hours per week, allowing you to focus on higher-value tasks.

Early in your email marketing campaign, take some time to evaluate email marketing options, and choose the one that best fits your needs. If you need advice on how to make the call, just let us know. As a note, we are a HubSpot Certified Partner and believe that it’s the best marketing automation platform out there. So we’ll help you to evaluate if it is a good fit for your business.

Step Five: Get Whitelisted

At this point, most email systems have fairly sophisticated filters that automatically sort promotional emails into separate folders. Worse, some systems have a high bar for what constitutes "promotional," increasing the risk that your marketing emails will be relegated to the dreaded spam folder.

In either case, busy recipients might never even have the chance to open an email. That reduces your open rates and hampers your campaign's effectiveness.

The best way to avoid this fate is to get "whitelisted." There are two principal ways to get whitelisted. One involves working with your chosen automation suite - although there's no guarantee that this will do the trick with all email systems.

The other involves asking prospects to add you to their address book. You can do this on the email list signup page or in the welcome email that you send shortly after signup.

Step Six: Use Analytics to Make Smart Marketing Decisions

If you know which analytic metrics to focus on, measuring the effectiveness of an email marketing campaign is a snap. Your marketing automation suite has a wealth of useful data, including open rates and response rates, which you can use to calculate your campaign's overall ROI and make adjustments as necessary.

The Last Word on How to Do Email Marketing

It's clear that email marketing is an indispensable piece of the online marketing puzzle. As one of the highest-ROI ways to nurture leads, optimize conversions and take advantage of new opportunities to close sales, email marketing simply can't be ignored.

If you can set realistic goals, segment your recipients, craft catchy and engaging messages, and regularly use analytics to track your campaign's progress, you'll be well on your way to a killer email marketing campaign that sets you apart from the competition.

What are you waiting for? If you're ready to jump-start your email marketing campaign, we're ready to help.

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