Email marketing drives website traffic, increases conversions and works anywhere without the need for any additional software.  So how do you get the most from this very useful tool?  Lets explore the possibilities.

First and foremost, is planning the content of the email blast or newsletter.  Decide what the main goal for the communication is: driving site traffic, selling a product, offering a discount, announcing something important, etc.  When doing your planning, consider the following:

  1. Headlines, subheadlines and descriptions mus be compelling and descriptive.  Give the subscriber a reason to click and read more.
  2. Use images to make the content interesting, when possible.  Email readers will scan each email.  You can call attention to content you want to promote the most by using an image with the text.  Don't go overboard, as that will end up distracting them.
  3. Create a sense of urgency.  People receive a ton of emails, and that can mean that yours will be lost in the group and not get opened.  Use items like "breaking news", "new time saving tool", etc. or topics that have an immediate impact for your subscribers in your subject line.
  4. If you are trying to sell something, include a deal or discount.  Thanks to sites like Groupon and Living Social, users expect deals.  Email marketing is a great way to offer deals.  It creates urgency and encourages the user to remain on the list so they can receive more deals.  You can also consider offering group discounts like 10% off "select" products or services.  This will encourage them to click to see what products or services are available.
  5. Embed links that send them directly to a landing page, that puts our call to action front and center without a lot of other clutter.
  6. Include testimonials - 84% of Internet users trust peer to peer recommendations over direct marketing.

In our next installment we will look at element that you should include in your email campaign.

Yesterday we looked at how to add subscribers to your email lists.  In this article, we are going to look at some additional interesting ways to get the attention of potential subscribers and extend your reach.

Try using a viral email campaign, that includes something funny or unexpected but has a positive slant.  For example, as an April Fool's prank, ThinkGeek sent out an email with offers for phony products that were hilariously funny to capture the attention of their email subscribers.  Doing this type of ting, creates a fun but memorable twist for customers to pass along to their friends and associates as well as share on social media platforms.  

Another option is to create offers that are designed to be for friends and family as well.  A case study for The Bay, a Canadian retail store, found them using coupons in emails that clearly asked the reader to send it along to friends and family.  They nearly doubled their list from this exercise, so don't underestimate the power of asking for something to be shared.  It highly increases the likelihood of someone signing up for your list, because it was referred from someone they trusted and not a "cold call" email from a company they did not know.

Social media also offers great opportunities to grow email lists.  Social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter give your subscribers the opportunity to republish or share your content.  This puts your company in front of new potential subscribers that you never had access to before.  Also make sure to include a sign-up form on your your Facebook Fan/Company page that allows people to sign up from there as well.  Twitter can be a great spot to.  Use an incentive like "Sign up for our newsletter and receive FREE SHIPPING on your next order" or another incentive that fits your company's services.

One last note, DO NOT BUY email lists.  These are people who don't know anything about your company and did not ask or "opt-in" to receive communications from you.  The results of sending emails to a purchased list are poor response results and even worse, the recipient flags your email as junk or spam, which can result in your email platform provider cancelling your account or you are levied with thousands of dollars in fines for violating spam laws.

Email marketing can be a very successful platform for marketing your business if it is done properly.  There are tons of options that can be coupled with it like surveys, auto-send emails (emails that are scheduled and go out say once a month that contain non time-sensitive information that your subscribers would find interesting) and much more.  Happy marketing.

No matter what you use them for, email marketing programs can have significant value for your business.  They provide positive returns on investments, ability to increase website traffic and they are very cost effective.  In a survey conducted by Campaigner in 2011, they found that 61 percent of their business customers were planning to increase the use of email marketing.

Having an opt-in email list is a valuable asset because there is already interest from the subscriber.  One way to build your email list is to leverage what you are already doing:
  • add a link to the sign-up form in your email signature so that all of your emails include a one-click link to register for your email program
  • if you attend trade shows, events, etc. where you have a display, set up a computer at your exhibit to allow visitors to sign up for your email program
  • include a one-click forward link in all your email campaigns - making it easy for recipients to share with their friends
  • make sure to integrate a sign-up form on your website and on any social platforms that support that integration (Facebook for one does)
  • in mailed correspondence, encourage recipients to go to your website and sign up for your email program - give them a reason to do this by letting them know what they will be receiving - tips & tricks, coupons, first notice of new products or services, a free or discounted seminar, etc.  DO NOT add emails to your email list without first getting permission from the recipient.

When putting the registration form together, make it as easy as possible.  Don't ask for too much information during this first encounter.  Ask only a few questions like their name, company name, industry or location.  Keeping it short will avoid scaring them off by asking for too much information up front.

In our next article, we will look at some tools to get the word out about your email list.

So now you have a blog and know how to find content, but how can you make it even better?  Variable content.  Search engines and consumers love varied forms of content on blogs.  From video, to audio to photos, don't leave any of these out when creating blog posts.  This type of content really engages the reader and it provides great SEO benefits.  How to videos, product information videos, project photos, finished product photos, podcasts, etc., can be great tools to get messages across and are archivable on major platforms such as YouTube, iTunes, etc., which gives you even more visibility and the opportunity for anyone to find you.

Another way to get information out that would normally be boring is to create Infographics.  An Infographic is a visual representation of data/content that would normally be very boring and lengthy to read.  Infographics are also heavily shared and linked to from may sites.  Infogen (, offers a large variety of infographics to use as inspiration as well as a place to share yours.

You can also utilize surveys of your current customers and subscribers to see what type of content they would like to see.  This information can be invaluable, because if they asked for it they will read it and most likely share it with others, because it is tailored to them.  You can do email surveys, Facebook surveys or online surveys to engage your subscribers.

You can also look at your website analytics to see what blog posts have been visited the most and which ones have the most likes or social shares.  Use this as a guide to creating new content for your blog.

So the blog is written, now what?  A case study for our own company can give you an idea.  We started our blog in May of 2010.  We write our blog, then using a post scheduling software like HootSuite or Sendible, share it on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (company page and my personal page) along with 26 LinkedIn groups that contain our target market for our area (Linked Louisville, Linking Louisville, etc.).  These 26 groups contain over 290,000 members. Withing 6 weeks of starting our blog, our website traffic increased over 1400%!  You can't get that kind of visibility anywhere else.  This is not to mention the times our articles were shared and liked by others.

If you do your blog correctly, it can be a great way to increase your visibility for both potential customers and the Search Engines. 

So what is the best content to put on your blog?  Write what you know.  The best bloggers really know their topics or have someone write it for them.  Everyone is an expert in something, so use your blog to set you or your company up as an expert in your business.  Some great ways to generate blog ideas include:
  • Look at FAQs both on your own website and the websites of competitors.  Providing answers to common questions can produce interesting, informative content for the reader and have huge SEO benefits.
  • Do looks back and looks ahead.  What was going on in your industry a decade ago and how it has changed can be very interesting.  You can also take a further step to say what's next.
  • Posts that relate to the seasons can be effective.  Changing seasons effect everything we do, including business cycles, shopping trends, etc.  Examples of posts can be "how to winterize your pipes", when to change our furnace filter, best times to purchase computers and TVs, etc.
  • Look for trending topics on Twitter as well as 'liked' posts on Facebook.
  • Sometimes major news stories can be applied to a business or industry.
  • Articles in trade publications can trigger ideas.

Another way to provide great content is to look at having other experts contribute.  While you may be an expert in your field, it never hurts to look to other industry authorities that are not direct competitors.  You can interview other people in the industry, which provides them exposure and they might return the favor.  Have the CEO or President write a post once a month, if they don't already, to make customers feel secure in the company they have trusted with their business.

Search engines love fresh, varied content on your website and the best way to get it there is a blog.  In our next installment, we will look at types of content and what to do to increase the visibility of your blog.

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