Email marketing is one of the most common forms of direct marketing, and it can be a very effective and low cost channel to increase customer loyalty and retention and drive new leads. But for an independent home performance company with a limited marketing budget and limited time, how do you get started without hiring an expensive agency?
You just need to know the basics. Here's a quick "101" run-down of why you should be doing email marketing, how to go about it, and how to maximize its effectiveness so you can keep the crew (or yourself) busy:
Email is a key piece of your marketing pie, and it offers a lot of distinct benefits. Among those:
- A very low cost one-to-many communications channel
- A key vehicle to grow website traffic
- An easy way to develop and maintain awareness (of both your brand and the home performance process)
- With lots of metrics available, it's a great prospecting tool
- Good for customer retention and repeat business
- A great medium for promotions, sales and special offers.
That said, email by itself isn't a good marketing plan. It should be paired with a strong web presence and a robust overall content strategy. Which leads us to the next point...
Developing a Content Plan
A strong content plan is good not only for email, but for all of your other marketing channels as well: good content can be repurposed on a blog, in a newsletter, on social media, in brochures and other print media, and on and on.
Know Your Audience
This is one of the first rules of a good content strategy. Some content is great for a variety of readers, some works best for prospects who haven't yet had an audit, some works best for existing customers who you're hoping to encourage to get more work done. Consider segmenting your newsletters between customers and prospects, and tailoring your different newsletters to each; but one newsletter going out to one list is also fine - just keep in mind the different audiences that may be reading.
Keep it Manageable
Remember that you don't have to write a novel a week to have a solid content plan. Be realistic and consistent and you'll be in much better shape than if you go all-out for the first month and then run out of steam. A new piece of content every week? Every month? Up to you: whatever works for you works best.
It's okay to start small with your email list. After all, it doesn't do a whole lot of good to send emails to people who are never going to hire you for work (which is why we do not recommend purchasing email lists; they're typically risky and weak). It's best to have a solid list of good customers and prospects who are actually interested in what you have to say. A few ways to grow that list:
- Go through lists of existing customers & prospects
- Mine your inbox
- Business card stacks
- Have an opt-in form on your website
- Have a sign-up sheet at home shows & community events
A good email list has a healthy balance of volume and quality.
Conversion & Metrics
So once you have a content plan and a strong list of contacts, how do you tell if your email marketing program is working? And what exactly does it mean for it to be working? That depends. But for the majority of home performance companies sending newsletters, the ultimate goal is to get new business. Here's how you turn an email into new business:
There are a number of ways to track your success in doing so. We won't get into all of them -- a custom URL is a wonderful thing, for example, as Google Analytics, but the first step is to see how well you're emails are doing before readers get to your website. Thankfully, the major email blast providers (including iContact, Constant Contact, MailChimp, etc.) have very good feedback. Here's a screenshot from iContact to give you an idea of what that looks like:
Done well, an email marketing program can lead to increased business and an enhanced brand reputation. It's a good investment of time and resources.
If you get stuck or need a hand, feel free to give us a shout, we'd be happy to help.