We're pleased to present this guest post by Michael Selissen of Case Mountain Communications. Read on for his seven steps to getting started with email marketing.
It was one of those, “How do you like my new sweater?” moments, when all you can say is, “Ummm…”
I was 45 minutes into my first meeting with Frank, a prospective client. That’s when he slid a couple of pieces of paper across the table and said, “I bought a list with 20,000 names on it and here’s a draft of the email.”
A quick glance at the first paragraph and, “Ummm…”
I mean 450 words on a product description and company history might be considered by some to be outside the bounds of best practice.
The thing is, there’s a gazillion Franks out there: owners of small and medium sized companies who understand that buyers have gone digital. And they realize that cold calling and advertising and direct mail alone won’t cut it anymore. Email seems like the perfect solution. It’s cheap and it goes everywhere. But, understandably, they just aren’t sure where to start.
So here’s the type of approach Frank and I have been discussing.
1. Set the goal. The narrower and more quantifiable, the better. For example…
- Generate 50 new qualified leads from medical device manufacturers
- Subscribe 100 senior bioscience researchers to our new eNewsletter
2. Define the audience. Again, specific is best. Based on step 1, here are some candidates:
- VP of Development for a medical device manufacturer
- Research Director at a bioscience company
Next, identify a single top-of-mind concern – relative to your goal – that the audience is experiencing. Maybe it’s figuring out how to become more innovative.
3. Create an offer. Determine how to help the audience address that concern. For example, develop a paper or webinar like:
- How to sustain market advantage in the medical device industry through government-academic-industry collaboration
- Beyond salary: What bioscience researchers require before accepting a job
4. Design a landing page. A landing page is both a transition from the email to the offer and, optionally, a place to collect contact information. Here are some points to consider:
- Use a format that leads the eye from top to bottom
- Choose a headline that echoes the email
- Summarize the offer and takeaways
- Limit required contact information to name, email and phone number
- Include an “About Us” paragraph, especially if your business is unknown
5. Make the distribution list. Take care to match the list to the audience. It’ll help your success rate and protect you from the SPAM police. Here are the top sources for the list:
- Your in-house database
- An event or publication cosponsor
- Rented from a provider trusted by your audience
- Culled from public sources such as an industry association member list
- Purchased from a credible supplier
6. Write the email. The best subject lines emphasize the core benefit rather than the offer format. For example, Learn how 3-way collaboration spurs innovation for device manufacturers might be more effective than, Download free whitepaper on industry collaboration.
The message text takes it from there and introduces the offer. Keep it short and follow a basic outline like this one:
- Identify the business challenge or concern.
- Introduce the offer and a longer list of takeaways
- State the call to action like, “Download the Whitepaper!”
But before hitting Send, there are a few other items to consider.
- Select an email service provider that offers proven deliverability, A/B testing, compliance to SPAM regulations, auto-responders and analytics
- Ideally, pick a subset of your list and test variations of the email’s hinge elements, such as subject line and landing page
- If you plan to phone contacts, do so within 24 hours before they forget who you are
So whether you’re stitching together your first campaign, restoring a threadbare email process or picking out a wool cardigan, stick to the basics. That way, you’ll be sure to avoid the “Ummm…”
About the Author: Michael Selissen is a B2B marketing writer, consultant and the founder of Case Mountain Communications. Bringing more than 12 years of marketing experience to the job, he writes executive-level articles, papers and blogs, and designs inbound marketing processes. His latest eBook, The Marketer’s Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting an Email Campaign, is available for download right here.