Introduction To E-mail Marketing
This is the tenth tutorial in the ‘Journey Into Internet Marketing’ series and in this unit, we will be concentrating on e-mail marketing, that is, sending people product offer information via e-mail.
If you have not done so, it is recommended you read over Part 9 – PPC Explored first.
Let’s begin by explaining what this is not.
It is nothing whatsoever remotely related or in any way akin to spamming people. No serious online marketer would ever contemplate sending spam e-mail to people and nor should you for any number of reasons.
Firstly, sending spam e-mail is illegal and the fines can be stupendously high. For example, four years ago, there was an $11 billion fine levied on a convicted e-mail spammer whilst a Facebook spammer ended up with an $870 million bill back in 2008. Secondly, spamming is completely unprofessional and it will destroy your business and your reputation.
Thirdly, spamming simply doesn’t actually achieve anything if you are running a proper, reputable online businesses. You certainly won’t get any business out of spamming. So, whichever way you dice it, spam is not e-mail marketing.
Instead, the essence of e-mail marketing is suggested by the alternative name ‘permission marketing’. It is all about getting permission from a targeted prospect to send additional information to them in which you will include product recommendations from time to time.
You collect e-mail information from prospects and customers whilst at the same time asking for their permission to send additional information that will be of interest to them in the future. This is commonly known as signing someone up for your mailing list or getting a new subscriber, and in this tutorial we will be covering this topic.
When you decide to build a mailing list populated by prospects in your market sector, it is possible to do the whole job manually in the very beginning. When you have only half a dozen subscribers, it is feasible for you to deal with each of them on an individual basis as long as you are reasonably well-organized.
Sadly however, a mailing list with half a dozen names on it is virtually worthless because the secret of making money from a subscriber list is to have as many hot prospects on that list as possible.
To ensure that your business grows, you must also grow your mailing list. This naturally means that as you become progressively more successful as a list builder, it becomes increasingly impossible to manage your list manually.
A quick ‘walk through’ the process of building a list for e-mail marketing purposes will demonstrate why this is.
If you want to build a list, the first thing you must do is create a subscription form that enables people to subscribe. This must be pasted onto a web page to which you subsequently drive targeted visitors.
A prospect visits this page, decides that they want to be kept updated, and subscribes. They complete your subscription form which ‘bounces’ back to you.
Maybe you confirm their e-mail address, maybe you don’t. In the United States, and many other countries, you will be required to confirm your prospects e-mail address. This is completely automated and simply involves the prospect clicking on a link within their inbox from the e-mail that the mailing software sends them. The process is known as “double opt-in”, and complies with regulations concerning e-mail marketing.
Either way, they are now on your list which means that as a professional marketer, you need to send them an e-mail message two or three times a week until, or if, they decide to unsubscribe.
Say that your marketing system dictates that you send an e-mail message to every new subscriber 2 days, 5 days and 7 days after they join your list. This will mean that there’s a lesser chance that your subscribers will unsubscribe from your list within the first week, since they will be expecting e-mails from you.
Okay, now you have a nightmare scenario developing because every individual member of your list has joined at a different time.
Consequently, every outgoing e-mail should also go at a different time. You could just about handle this if there were 10 or 15 people on your list, but can you imagine trying to manage 1000 or 1500 subscribers?
It would be totally impossible which is why automation is an essential requirement of professional list building. We will be covering some of the leading automated e-mail marketing services within the next section.
To automate your subscriber list building, there are a couple of options.
The first option is to buy software that you install either on your desktop or on your web server to manage your list building activities.
The advantage of this approach is that the software is often relatively cheap and you only need to pay for it once. After you have bought it and it is installed, there is no further capital outlay necessary.
Unfortunately, this is probably the only advantage of this approach too.
Otherwise, there is little to recommend using software on your desktop or server. For one thing, the software will very quickly be out of date.
Another problem is that because everything is handled through your own Internet Service Provider, too many spam complaints – unfair or not – could get your web hosting account shut down.
Thirdly, if you try to send bulk e-mail through your own hosting account, the chances are that you will not be allowed to do so. Most hosts consider ‘bulk’ e-mailing to be akin to spam irrespective of whether you have a record of permission to send e-mail to the people on your list or not and you conduct your e-mail marketing legally and ethically.
For these reasons, handling your e-mail list building activities from your computer or hosting account is a bad idea.
The better option, one that is favored by 99.99% of professional online marketers, is to use the services of a professional e-mail handling and list building service.
These services are generally known as autoresponders because the automated services they provide automatically respond to incoming e-mails sent to your account.
To begin with, all professional autoresponder services operate what is known as a double opt-in system. This means that when someone applies to join your list, the autoresponder sends them a message that asks them to confirm their request. If they do so, they are subscribed to your list, but if they don’t, they’re not.
This protects both you and the autoresponder service against spurious or malicious spam complaints in the future.
Secondly, these companies are professionals whose only business is to provide the highest level of e-mail handling and list building services. Consequently, the services they offer are always at the cutting edge of e-mail technology.
Finally, ‘deliverability’ is a massively important factor to consider when weighing up the pros and cons of different e-mail automation services.
This refers to the fact that whilst having subscribers on your list is good, it is also a waste of time if every e-mail message you send is blocked before it is received. If this happens, you could have millions of subscribers and still make no money because none of your outgoing e-mail messages ever gets through.
If you install software on your computer or use a lesser-known autoresponder, this will happen. If on the other hand you use a top quality professional e-mail handling and a list building service, it won’t.
Building a list for e-mail marketing purposes is one area of your business where you cannot afford to take shortcuts. Use the best because doing so will repay you in spades hundreds of times over.
As previously suggested, in order to collect e-mail contact information, you need to create a subscription form. You do this within your autoresponder account because one of the advantages of using an external service is that your mailing list is built on their computers.
Copy the code before pasting into a page on your site. Any visitor who sees this page can now subscribe to your list by completing the form.
One option is to add the form to an existing content web page so that the visitor has the opportunity of signing up for regular updates. This works, but for e-mail marketing purposes, it is not the most efficient way of collecting e-mail information.
Instead, most marketers create what is known as a squeeze page, a page which is specifically designed to do nothing other than collect an e-mail address.
The best squeeze pages are always simple, straightforward and to the point.
This example is a squeeze page that has been used for a long time by one of the leading online dating services for men.
This is one way of building a squeeze page that highlights some of the most important considerations to take into account when creating a squeeze page for e-mail marketing purposes:
Firstly, there is a bold red headline at the top of the page which immediately answers the ‘What’s in it for me?’ question that any guy who lands on this page would ask.
Next, you have a series of bullet points which re-emphasize exactly why an interested visitor should subscribe to this mailing list.
Below the bullet point list, there is a call to action that tells the visitor exactly what they need to do to take advantage of this free gift offer.
Finally, beneath the subscription form, it re-emphasizes that the report on offer is completely free.
Note also that the page is plain black text on a white background.
It is not necessary to overcomplicate squeeze pages because unnecessary distractions can sometimes draw the visitor’s attention away from what you want them to do.
Also note that there is written text on this page.
As mentioned in the previous tutorial, if you are going to use AdWords to drive traffic to a page like this, you must comply with the Quality Score rules. To do this, there has to be written content on the page.
The fact that this particular squeeze page has been used for a long time with very minor alterations indicates that it works very well. If you follow the same guidelines when creating your own squeeze pages, you will not go far wrong.
Once your squeeze page is ready and your e-mail collection ‘back office’ set up, the final thing you need to do is create a series of outgoing e-mail messages that will be sent new subscribers after they join your list.
These messages are uploaded to your autoresponder account, after which you program the account to send message out on a given day.
For example, your first ‘Welcome’ message should be sent immediately after your subscriber has joined your list, with the next message set to go two days later, the one after that another two days later and so on.
The ‘time lapse’ between each outgoing message is entirely up to you although there are a couple of things you should consider when making your timing decision.
Before you launch your list building activities, you should have at least a month or six weeks of outgoing messages preloaded in to your autoresponder system.
Now, the beauty of e-mail marketing is that it is very much a ‘set it and forget it’ form of promotion. You write and load your outgoing messages to your autoresponder only once.
After this, every new subscriber is ‘slotted into’ the system when they subscribe and begin to receive your messages automatically.
Hence, if you decide to send a message or even two every day (as some marketers do), you are going to spend a lot of time writing and uploading outgoing messages before you are ready to go.
On the other hand, if you send a message once every couple of weeks, your subscriber will quickly forget who you are and what you have to offer. There would be far less work inherent in this approach but your results would definitely be adversely affected by the delay between messages.
Most marketers try to strike a happy balance between these two extremes by sending out a new message every two or three days. The effectiveness of this might depend upon the market that you’re working on but as a general rule of thumb, it works pretty well.
Of course, the key to the profitability of your e-mail marketing activities is the content of the messages that you send to subscribers. And once again, it is a question of getting the balance right.
When a subscriber joins your list, they do so because they want information. They do not want bombarding with a constant stream of product recommendations and nothing else.
Consequently, the most effective way of marketing to your subscribers is to provide them with lots of valuable free information interspersed with the occasional product recommendation, rather than the other way round.
If you understand the theory of reciprocity in marketing, you will know that if you give, give and give again without asking for anything in return, the recipient of your generosity gradually becomes more and more indebted to you. The more indebted to you your subscribers feel, the more likely to buy one of your recommendations they will inevitably become.
So, every outgoing e-mail message that you load in to your autoresponder series must contain valuable free information that your subscribers can use.
Within your outgoing messages, you should vary the way you advertise too. For example, some e-mails might contain a detailed write-up about a product or service that you are recommending whereas others might feature nothing more than a two line text advert without any recommendation at all.
The main thing to remember is, if your subscribers do not open your e-mail messages, they can never buy anything you recommend. The way you ensure they open your e-mail is by providing them with quality information and value in every message you send.
Do this and e-mail marketing becomes a cinch. Don’t do it, and your e-mail marketing efforts are likely to put far less money in your pocket than they should.
E-mail marketing is one of the most effective tools in the armory of any well organized professional online marketer.
As long as you have the automated tools in place and have your system set up properly from the beginning, this form of marketing will deposit a steady stream of commission checks in to your bank account almost on autopilot.
And yes, I know the ‘autopilot income’ idea is a cliché, but in the case of e-mail marketing, it just happens to be true!
It is now recommended you proceed on to Part 11 – Resell Rights Products.