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10 Steps to Starting an Email Marketing Program

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Email marketing is an important part of every small business owner’s marketing plan. It’s a way for business owners to stay in touch with their target audience, invite questions, and establish themselves as a trusted professional in their industry.

Email marketing is not so much about selling your product or service as it is about building relationships.

By providing helpful information on a consistent basis, you are proving that you are a knowledgeable resource that can be depended on. It’s the first step in establishing a friendly relationship that is based on trust. And as we know from Bob Burg, “All things being equal, people do business with or refer business to those that they know, like and trust.”

So what does it take to launch an email marketing program? If you are unsure of where to start, begin with these 10 simple steps:

Step #1: Determine the purpose of your email marketing program.

What is your goal? What do you want to accomplish? This will determine the type of content you will use in your emails.

Step #2: Identify your target audience.

Who will you be sending these emails to? Who are you writing for? You cannot be all things to everyone, so determine who your customers are, who needs your products and services the most, and develop a customer profile to target your message to.

Step #3: Build your list.

Begin with your customer list, but add to it frequently. With their permission, add emails from individuals who inquire but don’t buy, potential customers you meet at networking events, and those that respond to your blog or comment on social media. You can even offer a free download on your website that they can access by providing an email address. Never stop building your list.

Step #4: Choose a provider.

There are many email marketing programs available to choose from. Some are free and simple, while others are more comprehensive and will run you a monthly fee. Examples include MailChimp, Constant Contact, iContact, AWeber and Infusionsoft . Do some research and choose the email marketing program that is right for you.

Step #5: Develop your content.

Will you be sending out a monthly newsletter? A simple eblast? Determine the type of content you will provide, be sure it adds value, is easy to read on a computer screen or smart phone, and has a clear call to action.

Step #6: Determine a frequency.

How often can you commit to sending an email to your customers? What is realistic? You will want to send emails often enough to benefit from “top of mind awareness” without overloading them with content.

Step #7: Add images.

Images are a powerful way to get your audience’s attention, keep them reading and help them remember your information.

Step #8: Add links to your social media accounts.

Social media links give your readers a way to keep in touch, follow you or share information with you.

Step #9: Review your analytics.

Most email marketing programs come with handy tools that allow you to see who opened your email and what links they clicked on. This is helpful information to have when determining the right day and time for distribution, and how effective your subject line is in getting your audience to open your message.

Step #10: Stay consistent.

Whatever frequency you decide to send your emails out on, it is important to stay consistent. Even when you are busy, even when a key manager resigns, even when you have an emergency.

Providing helpful information that your audience cares about on a consistent schedule shows that you are reliable, dependable and trustworthy. And aren’t those the qualities of someone most customers want to do business with?

Laurie Zinn is a Columbus-based freelance writer and owner of Line-By-Line. She helps businesses communicate with their customers through website content, blog articles, email marketing campaigns and social media. For more information about Line-By-Line, visit http://line-by-line.us or contact Laurie at laurie@line-by-line.us.

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