Business Email Marketing Series: Formulating a Plan

Email marketing is now a mature tactic for businesses of all sizes, but before you hit the send button, what about your strategy and plan, content development and utilizing a tool to automate your efforts? In this series of blog posts I’ll tackle all three topics. This blog focuses on getting a plan and strategy in place first.

Email marketing should be supplemental to all of your other marketing activities. Depending on your business and audience, email can easily be a primary channel of communications. If you’re a start-up, new business or an existing business whose services have changed, or you’re experiencing more competition, awareness is most likely one of your strategies.

In addition to general awareness, you might be launching a new service or product and want to tell your existing customers and prospects. Or you could be partnering with others to get your message out to the market. Why are you using email marketing and how is it laddering up to your overall business and marketing strategy?

Small businesses rarely have advertising dollars, so using email and building a loyal list can be a great way to get in front of people in a more direct way.

  • Map out your target audiences — this does take time and is very necessary in your content development. You need to know what your audience wants, what their preferences are and how they communicate.
  • Segmentation – Spend the time digging through your current prospect and customer database. Segment by company size, assets, industry, title and preferences. The more targeted you can get with who you’re speaking to and why you’re getting in front of them, your results will yield more.
  • Content Development – Your content has to be tailored to your segmented lists. General content isn’t going to get you that meeting or get your company noticed. Remember, you’re speaking to another person — drop the sales jargon and tell people how your product or service can help them.
  • Nurture – It’s not about one or two emails. You’ll need to think about what your target needs and how you can drip messages in an informational way. You’ll have to map out a series of emails. Don’t email someone every day. Pick a thoughtful schedule that keeps your company top of mind.
  • Become a Source – No one likes to be sold to — your strategy is to become a trusted source they cannot do without and get your company, service or product in front of them. When you develop content, map out what types of information will be helpful to the businesses or individuals you’re targeting.

Types of Email Communications

  • Operational – Operational emails are typically notifications about product changes, announcements that could impact service to your clients or business closings. If your business sends clients a regular scheduled statement, that would be considered an operational message.
  • Informational/Educational – Information about your company or product. Providing tips and information to help your current customers and prospects is a better way to deepen relationships, cross-sell other products and services and become a trusted source. This also helps heighten leadership if you are positioning your company to be a leader.
  • Promotional – Promotional emails highlight new products and services, temporary discounts and seasonal offers.
  • Product Announcements – Whether you’re launching a new product or taking an existing product off the shelf and highlighting it, product announcements are a good way to remind customers and prospects about what your business offers.

These tips should get you going on how to think about your strategy and get a plan in place. Document what you are going to do, who you want to speak to and the types of emails that you’ll execute.

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