While there are many options to choose from, most email marketing tools share a few common features.
The first is a contact database that stores your customers’ information. At minimum, the database needs to include an email address for each contact. Most software services allow you to include additional information, like name, mailing address, and other information.
Start building your email database by adding customer data you already have. Most services allow you to upload data from a spreadsheet, a handy feature if you have a lot of information to include.
Next, you want to give people the ability to subscribe (and unsubscribe) themselves. Most email services provide a online form that you can add to your website by copying and pasting a bit of code. Website visitors can then submit this form to sign up for your emails. This data is then automatically transferred to your contact database.
One thing to keep in mind: these forms are usually customisable, so you can ask for the specific customer information you want. But, your online sign up form should be short and easy to complete— you’ll probably have more success growing a subscriber list if you don’t require too much information. All you really need is their email address to get started!
If you do have information about customers, you can use it to sort them into lists. For example, let’s say you own a pet supply shop. If you know that one set of customers own cats, you can group them in a Cat list and send them cat food offers. Customers who own dogs would be on the Dog list, and get different offers. The more information you have about your customers, the more relevant your emails can be.
Now you’ve got your database, let’s think about the actual emails. Email templates allow you to create a design that matches your brand. You can reuse your template again and again, for similar email campaigns.
Keep in mind that many people read email on their mobiles, so be sure yours are mobile-friendly. Many email marketing tools allow you to preview your email on different devices before you send.
Another great feature to know about is the ability to schedule when your email goes out. You can send the email immediately, or choose a later day and time.
An email marketing tool can even be used to track what people do when they receive it.
You might find that most of your customers open their email first thing Monday mornings, or, during lunch on Friday. You can then use your email service to record those preferences and send future emails at more relevant times.
Email marketing services also track who clicks the links in your email. These links typically go to pages on your website. You can then track what those people do, once they’re on your site. Like, whether they read an article, or make a purchase.
As you learn about your customers’ behaviour, you can then deliver more personalised content.
Many email marketing services offer a personalisation feature that places relevant content into an email template, based on a person's interests. You can use this feature to send specific messages to different people within your database.
Remember those groups of cat owners and dog owners you set up? While most of your email will contain general information that all pet owners will appreciate, your email template can also include one or two fields for content that is specific for each pet-specific group.
By targeting each group with a personalised email, you increase the chances that they will not only read your email, but also click through to visit your website.
So, as you can see, email marketing tools make running a successful email program much easier.
Not only will they save you time, but you can track which recipients open, and take action on your messages. The more you know about your contacts, the more personalised content you can deliver.
Next, we’ll explore how to craft a compelling email and how to best manage your campaign.
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