Email proves an extremely efficient marketing channel when done well. It’s very affordable and I believe that anyone can create successful campaigns when equipped with the right advice, which is why it’s ideal for small business owners or solo-preuneurs.

Email gives you a chance to really engage with your audience, nurture your leads and ultimately turn them into customers. You can also automate all your campaigns, which means you won’t need to spend hours each day working on them, giving you more time to devote to other areas of your business.

With over ten years’ marketing experience under my belt, I’ve put together a simple step-by-step guide to setting up your first campaign.

Step 1. Build your list

Of course email is no good unless you have a group of people who have given their permission for you to contact them. So you’ll need to start thinking about building a list.

By permission, I mean, they’ve willingly given you their email address. Just asking customers to enter their email address is often not enough to convince them to do so – they want to know ‘what’s in it for me?’ so you need to provide what’s called a value exchange (sometimes referred to as a lead magnet) such as a discount code, free pdf download, eBook or email series.

Also, tell them the kind of things that you will send them – for example, that as subscribers they’ll be the first to hear about our new offers / ranges / releases.

In addition, emailing people who have not asked to be contacted are much less likely to turn into customers.

Step 2. Choose an email service provider (ESP)

Put simply, an ESP enables you to send out email marketing campaigns to a list of prospects. Most ESPs also provide a broad range of related services including the ability for you to create and build your subscriber list, customise your email templates, add personalisation and dynamic content (content that’s tailored to a particular audience), reporting and analysis.

To get you started, here are a small selection of ESPs that you might want to consider:

Constant Contact

MailChimp

Campaign Monitor

When choosing what provider is right for you, we recommend you start by thinking about how you plan to use email in your business, and what features you think that you will need to fulfil this.

If you’re just starting out you don’t need to overcomplicate things, so we’ve put together a handy check-list of the main things you should look for:

3. Create your email!

This is the exciting part where you get to be creative. And if you’re not creative – don’t worry, it’s not an essential prerequisite for creating effective campaigns!

Here are a few best-practice tips that will help ensure your email doesn’t end up in the trash!

Step 4. Measure success

After all that hard work, did anyone actually read your email?

When analysing your campaign, re-visit the original objectives of the campaign in order to determine what metrics you are going to use to gauge performance. Typically you’ll always be interested in open rates and click throughs (how many people clicked the call to action), but you may also want to establish what the customer did once they’d clicked through – the onward journey. For example, if you were offering a free download of an eBook – how many clicks turned into successful downloads, if you were trying to get them to buy something – how many sales did you get off the back of that particular email campaign? You get the picture.

And finally…

Step 5: Test and Learn

As you get more confident and experienced in email as a marketing tool, you can then start to think about testing various elements such as subject lines, time of day, day of week, offer types (ie a percentage off vs a £ discount), length of email (short v long copy), images… The list goes on! Even a small increase in your open rates can have a powerful knock on impact on the success of your campaigns.

I hope you’ve found this guide useful and I wish you the best of luck with your first campaign!

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