The Email Marketing Series
- Part One – Top 10 reasons why I should run an email marketing campaign
- Part Two – How much does it cost to run an email marketing campaign?
- Part Three – Why your competitors use email marketing to get more business
- Part Four – What should I include in a marketing email?
Pricing email marketing – breaking down the costs
Email marketing campaigns are effective and cheap if done correctly. Not running a marketing campaign could cost you money. Running a printed campaign could cost you too much money. Running an email marketing campaign costs little. In this article, we break down all the elements of running an email marketing campaign and look at how much it will profit you.
DIY or Expert?
The first question you ask yourself is, “Do I run a DIY email marketing campaign or do I hire a professional marketer?” Both have merits and implications.
Do it yourself
You can run an email marketing campaign yourself. With some research and know-how you can design, write and distribute your marketing emails yourself. You learn new skills and save money. The downside is the amount of time it takes to learn how to create good marketing emails, devise and execute a marketing campaign.
Creating a marketing email is not like writing a regular email to colleagues, family or friends. If you are designing and composing an email specifically for marketing, make sure you know your target audience, what they expect and how you can persuade them to part with their cash.
A popular email distribution website is MailChimp. If your mailing list has under 2,000 recipients the service is free. Anything more and you subscribe to one of MailChimp’s packages. Other services are available at cost. Other popular alternative services include Aweber.
Free tutorials on the internet will teach you the basics of creating a marketing email. There are loads of great websites looking at all areas of email marketing from conception to distribution and tracking.
A lot of elements that go into creating a webpage – HTML, CSS; also go into creating an email which displays images and looks professional. You will need server space preferably on your own web server to host any images you wish to show in your email. Ideally you would also create a web version for any one who wishes to view your email in a web browser. Hosting your email images will cost you nothing extra if you already pay for hosting or run your own server. If you don’t have access to your server or don’t have a website and therefore no web hosting, you will need to pay for some. Hosting can cost as little as £14.99 (approx. $26 / €19) per year depending upon where you buy your hosting. I host my website with TSOHost in the UK and have found their plans affordable with good technical support.
From concept to distribution and tracking, crafting the perfect email experience for your clientèle takes time.
- choose your audience
- research target audience preferences
- set up personalised confirmation and thank-you pages for email subscribers (and preferably a free reward e.g. download a free ebook for joining on a topic your audience wants to read about)
- collect email addresses
You’ve got your data and decided how to use it – you can move on to designing and developing the email:
- decide upon content – text and images including key products you wish to promote, secondary products, special offers and promotions, and call-to-action features
- sketch or wireframe your model
- source / design images and graphics
- set up your email distribution account
- create landing/squeeze pages on your website for any links you are going to include in your email
- set up automated trigger emails based upon your recipients activity
- set up tracking and analytics
- who opens your emails
- who clicks on any links
- who makes purchases / subscribes to your service / joins your cause, etc.
- who unsubsribes
Professional email marketing
If you don’t have the time or inclination to learn and manage an email marketing campaign, you need to engage the services of a professional. The immediate advantage is that you have an expert who can get straight to work on your campaign. The professional will do customer research, asking the right questions. Depending on your budget you may hire a group of experts – designer, copywriter, developer, marketer; or you may opt for one service which provides all these elements.
It’s a cliche but time really is money. Having the budget to employ someone else to do the work allows you to continue with the day-to-day running of your business. You will need to have some input:
- a Q&A session to discuss your objectives and your clients’ goals
- confirming any proofs before distribution
- your authorisation to distribute
Having a substantial work load to begin with may make your decision to hire experts easier. Yes, experts cost money but you get what you pay for.
Communication is the most important aspect of working with any one and this works both ways. It doesn’t matter if you communicate by email or talk over the phone but do communicate.
What do I need to think about?
Whether you decide to hire an expert or run your own email marketing campaign depends very much upon you, your resources and your inclination. There is no doubt that email marketing campaigns are effective.
The importance of branding
Consistent branding is a must throughout your email marketing campaign. Your branding is your logo, your colour scheme; the format of your website, your product packaging and signage. Your branding is what your customers or prospective customers expect to see when they think of your company.
Think of some memorable brands e.g. Apple – you think of the iconic Apple logo of an apple with a missing bite; Starbucks – the twin-tailed mermaid logo; the retailer Amazon – the typographical logo with an arrow linking A to Z (and a smile!).
Think of the brands you use most and the logo designs they employ. Every business or organisation should have its own branding and its own unique logomark. Logos take many forms. Logos may include icons, illustrations, graphics or be typographical (words only).
You will find sites where so-called professionals are willing you create a logo for you for £5. You may wonder why you would pay another logo designer a few hundred or even thousands for a logo. This sounds like a no-brainer – why spend £200+ when you can pay £5? The reasons are numerous:
- £5 gets you clipart, £200+ gets you originality
- £5 gets you 5 minutes of design time, £200+ gets you approximately 8 hours
- £5 gets you bland and generic, £200+ gets you unique and meaningful
- £5 doesn’t get you what you want, £200+ does
Anyone can bang together a piece of clipart with a funky font but it takes thoughtful and passionate design to get something worthy of representing your company and you.
Knowing your audience
Design for a specific target audience. It is impossible to design anything that will please and engage everyone. Whether marketing email, brochure or catalogue, whatever you design needs to be targeted at a specific audience. Do you know who your customers are? What do they have in common?
- job role
- geographical location
- organisation member
The list goes on. If you want your current customers to spend more then that’s who you target. If you want to attract a new group of people then target your marketing at them. The trick with marketing is to be ultra-specific. Drill down until you have identified your target audience and design your marketing accordingly. Look at:
- Do they use email? If not, an email marketing campaign is a waste of time!
- Are they computer literate?
- What type of device do they check their email on? Desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone?
- Which browser/email client do they use? – It’s no good if your marketing email doesn’t display properly, it makes you look incompetent
- What type of speech would they respond to? Formal or informal?
- What do your clients want or expect? Offering a solution to a problem is a sure-fire way of attracting customers and raises the chances of the customer buying into your product or service.
Any good marketing campaign worth its salt puts in the preparation work first. Firing marketing emails off blindly wastes you time and money. Research your audience and respond accordingly.
Copywriting and copywriters
Copy is the term for the text in your email, website, brochures etc. A copywriter is the person who writes this text. You may be wondering why you need a copywriter. You may have already decided you don’t. When writing copy, you or your copywriter will take into account all of your target audience research, the full description of your products or services, and what your aim is. The copy throughout your email marketing campaign must:
- be in a type of language your customer understands – no jargon or technical terms that your customer will not understand
- use language your customer will respond to
- be eye-catching and thought-provoking, perhaps even controversial
- be engaging
From the title to the small print, your copy needs to encourage the reader to open your email, read the contents and act in the way you want.
You could write the copy yourself. It takes practice and research, a little patience, and trial and error. There are a number of good websites with practical tips such as Hubspot. Good copy doesn’t just appear, it takes hard work, research and understanding.
Written by the experts
Are you the type of person who puts pen to paper and nothing appears? Do you have time to learn how to write effective copy? No? Hiring a copywriter is worthwhile. Copywriting may be part of your email marketing package or you may need to hire a copywriter specifically.
Hiring individual professionals will always cost more than an agency or package. A copywriter may cost you between £30-£100 per hour (depending on experience) or you may get a better price on a per project basis.
Whoever you choose, their expertise could make or break your campaign.
The Importance of the Email Subject Line
35% of email recipients open email based upon subject line alone. (Source convinceandconvert.com)
Here are some examples of the email subject lines that I received in my inbox this week. Would you want to open these emails?
- Brighten up your home and save up to 70% in our Wall Art sale
- How to develop a solid blog outreach strategy
- Why no one comments on your blog and what to do about it
- The naturally persuasive 3-step “thought-sequence”
- How to close with style
- Here’s your first five-minute marketing tactic
- 40 years of fun
- Five links you can thank me for later…
- Everything you need is now FREE
- Is there a reason “the reason why” is wrong?
When your email arrives, the reader doesn’t see any wonderful images or graphics. They read the Subject line and if it doesn’t grab the readers attention, the email gets deleted. Make your headline is interesting and eye-catching, and your reader will open your email.
If the copy of the email body doesn’t impress then it is deleted. Good copy will persuade your reader to follow your call-to-action link and go to your website, hopefully to make a purchase.
Hook your customers every step of the way and lead them to do what you want them to do.
Testing the waters
Marketing is fickle and pedantic. What works for one person doesn’t for another. How do you know what works? Before going all in, you can test what works on smaller groups.
A simple method of testing where you have two versions of the same headline/body copy/email which you send to two groups of the same target audience. One version goes to one group, your second version to the other group. Whichever works best you use for your all recipients. It is common when A/B testing that you only change one variable of the whole e.g. the headline or email Subject.
If you have a number of variables to test and several groups of your target audience to test your material on then you can change a number of variables e.g. the headline and the body copy; the Subject and the call-to-action. Multivariate testing works best on a large scale. If you don’t have a large audience, stick with A/B testing.
Distribution of your marketing email – SEND!
There are many different ways you can distribute your emails. How you do so again depends upon you and your budget, the size of your audience and any tracking you wish to use.
- Send emails from your own business email account
- Use a distribution and tracking service
If you only have a handful of people you are sending your email to then you could use your business email account. The larger the number and type of email may attract the attention of any email spamming regulations or acts that may be enforced in your target countries.
Email Marketing and The Law
In 2002 the European Union introduced a Directive which prohibits the use of personal email addresses for marketing purposes. The Directive establishes the opt-in regime, where unsolicited emails may be sent only with prior agreement of the recipient, this does not apply to business email addresses.
The directive has since been incorporated into the laws of member states including the UK where it is covered under the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 and applies to all organizations that send out marketing by some form of electronic communication.
The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 authorizes a United States $16,000 penalty per violation for spamming each individual recipient. Many commercial email marketers within USA use a service or special software to ensure compliance with the Act. In order to comply with the Act’s regulation of commercial email, services typically require users to authenticate their return address and include a valid physical address, provide a one-click unsubscribe feature, and prohibit importing lists of purchased addresses that may not have given valid permission.
On 1 July 2014, new anti-spam legislation came into force in Canada. It sets out some requirements for sending a certain type of message, called a commercial electronic message (CEM), to an electronic address. If you are sending a CEM to an electronic address, then you need to comply with three requirements. You need to: (1) obtain consent, (2) provide identification information, and (3) provide an unsubscribe mechanism.
Your email going into the Spam folder is the last thing you want. It almost guarantees your email won’t even be seen, never mind opened.
It is not enough to simply send out your marketing email and hope for the best. You need to see if it is worthwhile. A perk of using distribution services is many include tracking. If you’re sending from your own account you can try Hubspot’s Signal www.getsignal.com
Tracking shows you:
- which emails were delivered and which bounced (identifying wrong email addresses)
- which emails were opened
- which emails were read
- when users click on a link in the email, and which link it was
Correlating your tracking results with your purchasing history gives you the number of people who bought something from you because of your marketing email.
Tracking is very worthwhile as you measure your success in order to be cost-effective with future email marketing campaigns. You will find out what works, what sells and who is receptive; giving you everything you need to prepare your next campaign.
Conversion and goals
During the planning of your email campaign, you should set goals. You may think this is straightforward – you want the recipient to buy something from you; but it will help to break your thoughts down into more achieveable goals. Think about:
- setting the number of successful deliveries – cut down on incorrect email addresses
- setting a percentage of how many recipients will open your email
- setting a number of partial conversions i.e. a number of recipients who click the links in the email but do not make a purchase
- setting a number positive conversions i.e. a number of recipients who click on the links and make a purchase
This data is invaluable for learning more about email marketing as you measure your expectations against what really happens. The data is also useful for testing and finding which headline / body copy / links, etc. do and do not work.
Email is one of the most powerful and relatively cheap marketing tools at your disposal. Not utilising it could cost you money and customer loyalty. By building your reputation and marketing your brand, you turn potential customers into actual customers.
Whether you do-it-yourself or hire professionals, email marketing is something you should not ignore. Do your research, set your goals, create your marketing emails, distribute and track. If email marketing works for you, it will work well.
Work out how much it will cost you to hire a professional versus the time it will take you to learn and conduct a campaign yourself.
If you hire an email marketing professional it will cost you from £25 plus cost per recipient. A DIY campaign would cost between £9.95 and £995 to use a distribution service plus your hourly wage to learn and create your email marketing campaign. How quickly you learn depends on a number of factors e.g. time you can spare, motivation to learn, comprehension, understanding and technical ability.
Remember the number of people accessing their email on mobile technology such as smartphones and tablets gets higher and higher every day. You could be reaching those people, reminding them of you and your brand, and hopefully making money.
How effective is your current marketing? Would email marketing suit you and your business?
Not sure where to start?
Top 10 reasons why I should run an email marketing campaign
Why your competitors use email marketing to get more business
COMING SOON – Examples of Marketing Emails