Email Marketing Best Practices
There’s a lot of thinking to do before taking the first step towards becoming an email marketer or ezine publisher. Following email marketing best practices will guide you to guaranteed success.
PLANNING YOUR EZINE STRATEGY
Ezines are one of the best ways to keep in touch with visitors to your Website. Email marketing best practices involve publishing a high quality ezine and building your list of subscribers.
There’s no getting away from it. In these days of explosive growth of the World Wide Web and growing concerns about unsolicited eMail and intrusive online marketing, it takes a considerable effort to get into your customer’s sights – and stay there.
By publishing your own eZine, you get privileged access to a sacred part of your target audience’s online life – the eMail Inbox !
No doubt you’ve heard about the many advantages of running your own eMail newsletter. There’s much to be said in favour of
- being perceived as an expert
- providing readers easy access to information about your business or passion
- being able to remind your customer about new offers and products
- developing an ever growing list of new contacts and customers
- branding yourself and your business
- and also making some money from the entire process!
So if you’ve not yet been convinced about the need to send out your own eZine, I hope you are now.
GETTING STARTED …
I know you’re straining at the bit, raring to get going ….
Hold on a moment. It isn’t so easy after all.
No. While publishing email newsletters isn’t rocket science, it isn’t something you can get done with a snap of the fingers or a wave of a magic wand – never mind what many marketers would like you to believe.
A few minutes of thinking and strategic planning before you begin can save many more hours of hard work and stress as you try and sustain your ePublishing initiative.
The power of Strategic Thinking
It is remarkable how many tomes and manuals about publishing your own eZine conveniently skirt this very important issue. Indeed, in my own eBook about publishing an eZine, the very first chapter is about planning out your eZine’s future. Because, without a clear plan and well defined targets, your eZine will flounder like a ship on high seas caught in a storm without a map!
And it helps if you first answer three questions:
- Why are you considering publishing an eZine?
- What are your areas of expertise?
- Who are the people you are targeting?
Many eZines fail this first test – the answer to “WHY?”
You’ve certainly received an eZine or two that is little more than a thinly veiled advertisement for a product or service, or a shoddy little brochure of a business. These so-called eZines are hastily conceived, poorly thought out, ineffective vehicles that damage reputations rather than gain customers or generate revenues.
Before starting your email marketing remember – your customer ALWAYS comes first.
And logically, your eZine will have to provide value to that customer. The best way to do this is to think like your customer, get inside his/her head.
- What would your target customers be interested in?
- What are they looking for?
- What does your business or service offer them?
You can figure out the answers to these sometimes difficult questions by a combination of intelligent guesswork, informal polls of Website visitors, asking friends and family for suggestions – and by monitoring your competition, seeing what they’re doing right!
When you think you’ve found the right answers, put it to the acid test – create your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). Try to tell readers why they should sign up for your eZine. In a short sentence or two, describe its purpose, its benefits to subscribers. This will then remain your motto or slogan, one which you will strive to fulfil in each and every succeeding issue of your eZine.
WHAT TO PUBLISH?
I hear you say
“Oh, but I don’t know enough to write about things!”
Well, I’m sure you do. Everyone has areas of knowledge and expertise. It may be something technical like advanced computer programming. It may be an emotional subject like living with someone who has Alzheimer’s. It may be something mundane like gardening and housekeeping, or more esoteric like DNA mapping. Hobbies – stamp collecting, trekking, mountain climbing, snow boarding – are all grist to your ePublishing mill.
The trick is to weave that into your eZine’s purpose.
You might set out to inform and educate readers of your newsletter. Or you may wish to entertain them or advertise your product to them. Or instead your eZine may be just a vehicle to announce new updates to your Website and an invitation to readers to visit it again.
And by creatively using your expertise in a particular subject or area, you can find your niche. Often you don’t even have to be an expert – just being passionate and excited about sharing that passion (e.g. email marketing tips) with readers is enough qualification to become an eZine publisher.
But why should you bother with email marketing best practices now?
Simply because this is what you will be writing about for the next many months, if not years. You will have to constantly come up with content that is useful, accurate, reliable and of high quality. Only with such content can you build up your reputation with readers and make them realize that they are dealing with a specialist.
And it’s only after such a rapport has been established that you can begin to successfully market your wares to these subscribers.
So try to determine whether
- you really like the topic you choose
- you have much competition in this area
- you know a lot about it
- you can write knowledgeably about it
- readers will benefit from the topic
FOR WHOM ARE YOU PUBLISHING?
The last issue you must sort out before starting on your eZine is the target audience.
“Who will read my eZine?”
The answer to this will determine the nature of your eZine’s content. If your readers are economics majors, you are justified in sending them highly technical content with plenty of formulae and jargon. But if your reader is the average investor with a poor head for figures, your eZine would have to be written in simple language.
It is also important to try and determine what your reader seeks from your eZine. If it is a timely stock tip, you may consider sending out an issue each time you hear something interesting on the grapevine. However if they are looking for well researched stock analyses, a similar strategy could backfire badly.
Get inside your reader’s mind. Embrace email marketing best practices and it will help you
- offer the most relevant content in the best possible manner
- decide which products and services to offer to them, and
- select the most effective advertising strategy to make them your customers!
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