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Email Marketing, Part I: Where it’s @ or Old Hat?

Cool or old school? In this first part of a three-article series, content marketing strategist Barry Feldman makes a case for the value of email marketing.

Let’s begin with a limerick.

Some say email’s not cool.
They consider the medium old school.
But when they land in your nest,
And you don’t get their address,
My friend, you’re a marketing fool.

Email marketing is not new, so it doesn’t have that shiny object thing going for it.

What about money? It’s not new either. And unless you’re talking about dimes and quarters, it’s not shiny. It’s dull green. But it’s awfully attractive.

Think of email marketing as the color of money—and keep reading because what I have for you today is far from dull.

email marketing

Everyone has and uses email

Email is more pervasive than any social media.

Sure, social media’s happening. But can you count on any one platform to deliver your message? Factor in the filters Facebook lovingly calls an algorithm, the micro half-life of a tweet, and the basic notion that you really have no idea who’s doing what and when on social media, and you’re forced to concede social media is icing to email’s cake.

  • Email is private.

Email allows you to have more private and personal conversations. You send messages to exactly who you want. If you want your message to apply to a certain person or a select group, it’s perfectly doable.

  • Email means business.

Nobody blows off email. It’s too risky. You could miss out on important information, event notices, new business inquiries and orders. Admit it: you check your email multiple times everyday. You probably skip breakfast more often than you skip checking your inbox.

  • Email is permission-based.

The people who receive your email asked for it. In one way or another, they said, “Yes, please feel free to market to me. I’m your target audience.”

  • Email is a cinch.

If you’re a member of the Google+ fan club, you are well aware that the platform has a fairly extensive learning curve. I love LinkedIn, but feel just fine saying it’s getting a tad noisy on the “social media for business.”

Facebook is a chameleon, but what social media doesn’t constantly change its look, rules and feature set? And even if you work at staying current, you never are totally up-to-date on social media. If that instant should ever actually occur, you can bet a new social media network will emerge and make you a newbie all over again.

Not so with email. It’s simple. You’ve got it down. It’s kind of a relief.

When you get into using email as a marketing tactic, you need not employ a team of digital geniuses to get started. You won’t have to play demographic roulette. You’ll have no need to repeat yourself ten times a day.

Where do you begin with email marketing?

You need to build an email list. And build. And build again. Along the way, you also cull the list. Size doesn’t suck, but it takes a back seat to quality. The idea is to send your email to customers and prospects that welcome receiving it.

To build your list, you’ll simply ask people to join it. You’ll want to make it sound irresistible, a no brainer if you will, by telling them why. The generic “join our email list” or “get free updates” isn’t strong enough. You need to answer the question “why.”

Here are a few examples of passages you might write to compel your website visitors to join your list:

Get free tips and tactics to help you lower your (type of service) costs.

Be the first to know about the (type of product) specials we offer exclusively to our email subscribers.

Do You Know What Makes People "Tick" Online?

Derek Halpern, a master marketer who sells information products exclusively via email, places a page-wide email opt-in box atop his home page that reads, “Do You Know What Makes People ‘Tick’ Online?” He follows the headline with:

If not, now’s the time to learn how to use psychology to:

  • Turn Random Traffic Into Loyal Subscribers
  • Persuade People to Buy Your Products
  • Encourage People to Share Your Content and Website

Just enter your email below and click “Get Updates!”

Note the “how to.” Note the deliberate use of verbs: turn, persuade, encourage. Note the benefit at the end of each bullet point. And finally, he explains how easy it is. Powerful stuff.

Halpern’s relentless with his efforts to enlist subscribers. Click on any post and there’s an opt-in box at the top, bottom, and in the sidebar. He also tosses a pop-up at you when you first click on any blog teaser to get the full article.

I love the idea of displaying an opt-in box below your post. My thinking is the reader has just finished reading your post. It must have been great, right? The time to strike is then and there. You fed ‘em a little taste of what’s on the menu. They should be hungry for more.

If you’re interested in a simple way to create attractive email opt-in forms, check out Magic Action Box for WordPress. The free plugin makes it fast and easy to take advantage of well-designed templates you’ll customize for your site. I’ve built several variations with the tool and seen a nice incline in opt-ins ever since.

Get Magnetic!

On my blog, “The Point” at Feldman Creative, I use the Magic Action Box product to gather email addresses beneath nearly every post. It works.

The best way to get new subscribers

Nothing will build your email list faster than extending a valuable offer. Your best bet is a great piece of free content. Generally speaking, eBooks reign when it comes to the free offer, however, the list of freebies you might use as an enticement is long and open to your imagination.

In addition to eBooks, great ideas for free content offers include:

  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Free templates
  • Checklists and guides
  • Content archives
  • Courses
  • A series of informative emails

A few more tips for getting subscribers

In the subhead above, I was torn between writing “getting subscribers” and “increasing conversion.” Reason being, for so many B2B companies (who tend to have long sales cycles), an email opt-in IS a conversion. Granted, getting an email address is hardly a guarantee you’ll soon be processing your visitor’s credit card, but it represents a viable pull from the awareness stage at the top of the funnel to the interest stage that follows.

Recently, a new tactic for expanding your email list has grown vogue and proven effective: a dedicated newsletter page. In fact, with your PPC or any offsite activity, you could make it your landing page.

Become a Mobile Insider

Velti has created a beautiful landing page expressly for inviting visitors to optin to their email and become a “mobile insider.” Very tasty.

I’ve started using this approach on my site though you’d land on it only if you’re already at my site. However, in an effort to make it as alluring as possible, I’ve created a link in my navigation bar that reads, “The most important page on this website.” Tell me that doesn’t make you curious.

Another extremely useful tip for increasing opt-in rates leverages a well-known principle of persuasion know as “consensus.” Essentially, you write a passage indicating you’ll be joining many others when you get on the mailing list. This might read, “Join the more than 10,000 people who subscribe to our newsletters.”

One Thing Email Opt-in

At the Convince and Convert website, the invitation to opt-into “One Thing” features the persuasive tactic of assuring you’ll be joining 21,000 others.

Here are three more tips, of the fine print variety, that will also increase conversion because they address some common fears of opting-in.

  • Assure your website visitor they can opt-out at any time. Perhaps this sounds obvious, but I feel some comfort comes in knowing the decisions you make are reversible.
  • Put in an anti-spam mention promising you won’t share or sell their email address. You might get more creative than that and write about how you’ll handle their email with care.

Green-Box

Great example, right?

You might tell the visitor the frequency of your emails. If you send daily emails, you’ll want to warn them. If you have a regular interval, they may like that. If you email “now and then,” that too may appeal to person who would rather not make big additions to the avalanche of email they already receive.

We’re not done here.
I’ve told you why it’s vital to practice email marketing, encouraged you to begin building an opt-in list now, and shared some of the secrets of converting visitors to subscribers. But there’s so much more to employing email marketing effectively—so we’re soon to cover…

  • How to create emails customers love
  • The different kinds of email to send
  • Tricks for achieving open rates well above industry averages
  • How to use email metrics to perpetually improve your success
  • Common email marketing mistakes

You’re definitely going to want to stay tuned for additional installments of our email marketing series. And what’s the best way to ensure you never miss new posts and updates from iAcquire?

I hope you know what I’m going write next. Yes indeed. Join our email newsletter list below.

More, you say? Read Part II, “Make Your Email Programs Work” or skip ahead to Part III, “The Secrets to Achieving Better Results.”