Email marketing is a useful channel for local businesses, but just like any marketing campaign it needs careful planning. There are a lot of elements to consider, from the content you’re communicating to the technical components of the email itself, so taking some time to plan your emails carefully could save you a lot of time (and hassle) later on.
Before you start, ask yourself these questions to help you make your email marketing campaign a success.
1) What are your goals?
Knowing what you’re aiming for with your email marketing is essential. Set aside some time to work out exactly what you want to achieve from your email marketing before you start. Here are some ideas for what your goals could be:
Increase the number of people visiting your website
Increase sales of a specific product or range
Increase the number of people coming to your store
A good tip is to make your goal for your email marketing SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound (so it has a clear deadline). For more information about setting realistic and actionable objectives, download our guide.
So if you want more customers visiting your store (whether that’s online, or offline), how many, and in what timescale? Are your goals for email marketing relevant to your business objectives? Will you be able to measure it?
Knowing your goals will help you write and design your email more effectively with strong ‘calls to action’ – the action you want recipients to take – designed to push them towards your goal.
2) Who is your audience?
Every marketing campaign has a unique audience and it’s the same with email. With this channel, there’s the added benefit of being able to break down your email contact list into smaller groups. You can then send specific, tailored information to these different groups.
First, define your audience for your email marketing – this will define the sort of content you’ll include in your email. For example, if you run a café and your goal is to sell more corporate catering to businesses, your audience for email marketing will be different to those if you were promoting a lunchtime sandwich deal. To help you, think carefully about your goal and which customers are most likely to fulfil it for you.
3) What do your audience want to read about?
After you have defined your goal and your audience, consider what they might want to read about. Sending an email with irrelevant, boring or unwelcome information will mean people are more likely to unsubscribe – definitely not what you had in mind.
Consider how you could tie your goal to some information that would help your customer. For example, if your goal is to get more people to book in a boiler service, one of your emails could be an article explaining what warning signs to watch out for with older boilers. The final ‘call to action’ would be to book in a service.
By using email marketing like this, you’re helping your audience as well as pushing them towards your goal.
4) When will you send your emails?
As with print advertising, social media or any other marketing, a clear schedule for sending your emails is very important. This should include the frequency, the day and the time.
Many local businesses struggle to keep their marketing updated because they’re focused on the everyday running of their business. So rather than commit to emails you won’t be able to send, start small; sending an email once a month is better than saying you’ll send one every week and not managing it.
Once you’ve established the frequency of your email, think about the days and times. This will depend on your type of business and when your subscriber is likely to read their email. Here are some ideas:
If you have customers who work full-time, you could send the email during the morning commute or in the evening
If you have customers who are stay-at-home parents, you could send the email during afternoon nap time
If you have customers who are retired, you could send the email in the early morning on the weekend
After you’ve been sending out email marketing for a while, you’ll be able to use the data you’ve collected to work out when the best time is for you to send your emails.
5) What will you measure?
One of the best things about email marketing is that every element of it can be measured, from who opened your email to what links they clicked. Working out what you’ll measure should link directly to your goal and might be measured through standard reports provided via your email software, such as MailChimp or FreshMail.
Here are some examples:
If your goal is to get more customers into your shop, you’ll measure the number of customers through the door or phone enquiries about opening hours
If your goal is to get more customers to book a service online, you’ll measure how many people book online and whether they clicked on the relevant link in your email
If your goal is to get more customers to phone you for a quote, you’ll measure how many called you
As you can see, these aren’t all email measurements – they’re also what happens in store, on the phone and on your website. Think of your end goal first, then how you will be able to measure it, for example if you want to get more people into your shop, consider including a code in your emails that they need to quote when buying, in order to get a discount.
Ask yourself these five questions each time you set up a new email marketing campaign, and see how you can refine and improve your strategy. Keep notes on your decisions, adjustments and results as you go through each campaign to help you build on this success each time around.