"Getting Started - Build Your List and Create Emails that Get Results"
This is the third installment in our “Email Marketing - The Only Bailout Your Business Needs” e-Book.
In the previous four chapters, we’ve discussed the blocking and tackling of email marketing. How to stay on the right side of the law, how to create emails that won’t annoy your customers, how to provide valuable information to your contacts via on-going emails and how to engage prospects so that you're the one they buy from when the time is right and how to nurture relationships with existing clients. Click here to read the 1st, the 2nd, the 3rd and the 4th chapters.
The hardest part after participating in a seminar or webinar, taking a course, or just reading an e-book is distilling everything down to an actionable agenda and applying the information to your business.
It always seems that the examples given in the material don’t directly apply to your particular situation, that somehow while you may believe in what you have experienced… turning that experience into action is too tough, and too time consuming. We all have these thoughts whether we are the CEO of a large company, a solo entrepreneur with a business run out of the den, or one of many sales persons in any sized organization.
Its easy to put aside what we have learned. There are always other things going on, a deadline for revising quarterly projections, or some good reason that gets us to wisely conclude the best course of action is “Let’s Wait and See”. This is the phrase that kills innovation, progress, and potential in our businesses and our lives …
Don’t wait! Do something. Even if you don’t do it 100% correctly. You will get started on a new path that leads to positive results.
At this point, you have the right to ask the question.
“OK, I read all this stuff. I know e-mail marketing makes good sense. What do I do tomorrow morning?” How do I start in a way that will help me and doesn’t consume me?
The first piece of this puzzle is to gather the people who have touched your business in some way. These are the people who touch your business by calling, requesting information, responses to advertising or mailers, visiting a physical location or hitting one of your web pages.
We have already discussed putting a system in place where you manage prospects’ contact information in an automated fashion (CRM System). These systems are easy to use and very cost effective. We have also discussed going back to your existing system of holding your contacts (even if it is file cards) and migrating the data to a CRM or contact management system. In this way anything you create can be sent out in an automatic, sequenced way. This works for every contact you add to the system, whether the contact is old or new.
However, no matter how elegant the system, it still only software. The system is only as good as what we put in it. So even if you don’t have a contact management system in place yet… can’t find all the contacts from the last couple of years… or don’t have contact capture pages (squeeze pages) built for your web site yet, you can still begin the process. Good places to start:
•Accounting records - as we've discussed, your existing customers can be a great place to begin email marketing.
•Sales Contacts - you should be able to gather together the contacts your sales team has accumulated in their personal email marketing program, address book software or PDA.
•Business Cards - buy a "CardScan" system at the local office supply store. It scans your business cards and converts the image into an excel file of names, phone numbers and email addresses.
The important thing to remember is that this is a relationship building endeavor. Nothing else. You should start right now with the contacts you have under your control…. whether it is five… or five thousand.
If your target audience can be identified by industry, size of business or some other demographic criteria, then you should be able to purchase a list of contacts. A relevant trade association can be a good source for lists or you can contact a list broker. Obtaining lists including email addresses can be difficult and expensive. You may want to consider sending an initial direct mail piece out inviting contacts to visit a web page and provide up to date contact info, including email address, in order to access some valuable information. You can also advertise your "offer" on other web sites that may target a similar market. Start simple and small and keep your budget as low as possible. The point is to get started as quickly and simply as possible. Once you've gotten things underway and have seen some results, you'll be able to make smart decisions about how much to invest.
The plan is easy. Create a simple sequence of e-mails. Start with between three and five. Don’t sell hard in these e-mails. You are creating a relationship. You are attempting to become the person who gives something of value - so when people see your e-mails in their inbox – they open them. So giving value becomes very important. This value can be information about your specific category of business, a few paragraphs about business in general, or recommended sites and information that you feel prospects will find useful. It’s really easy to find information that gives value. For example, many people who write e-books will allow you to give them away, as long as you don’t change anything in them and give the author appropriate credit. Sites like ezinearticles.com allow you to republish articles written by others often at no charge. You can also make your first email and invitation to participate in future emailings. Let them know what you're planning to offer in future emails and ask if they'd like to receive these offers. Basically, this is your "opt-in" email.
So grab your contacts. Send out your first e-mail with an offer for valuable information. Note who responds, fulfill the promise you made in the offer and then send more e-mails… one campaign to the responders and another set to the non-responders. One of the benefits of this methodology is that it shows you the hierarchy of your prospects. Responders should be better candidates for products and services. As folks respond, you can move them from one campaign to another.
Eventually, you can run many such campaigns simultaneously with hundreds or thousands of contacts. Your CRM system will allow you to do that in a completely automated, very cost effective way. And as more contacts are introduced to your business, you add them to your list. You will soon discover that by giving useful free information away, your contacts will refer more contacts to you.
We can not stress enough that you can start with just a few contacts and a few e-mails because you are building relationships through creative content. The important part is to start… get the process going. The payoff is a truly dramatic increase in added sales and new sales with a decreased cost for those sales.
Remember, you don’t have to worry about building a system. The systems are already built. You are building and leveraging relationships. That is what you have to work on.
We'll release the entire "Email Marketing - The Only Bailout Your Business Needs" ebook in just a few days. Register to receive the entire eBook here. Special thanks for contributing to this installment go to Steven Greene. Steven’s written and managed lead generation and nurturing campaigns in industries from banking to boating. His input on email marketing is invaluable. To learn more about Steven click here.