Getting Started With Email Marketing

A common question I receive is how do I get started with email marketing.  Here’s why I love that question (and it’s not because of the obvious answer of me shouting “Hire Me!”).  I like the questions because it is being asked.  So many individuals or organizations never really consider the question.  Here’s some ideas on weighing your options.

How much time, money, and effort are you willing to invest?  If you have a budget and will make time to meet with consultants or email marketing professionals, that typically nets the best results fastest.  There are experts that deal day in and day out with getting the best campaigns they can.  Depending on the size of your budget you can hire large marketing firms, smaller specialzed firms, or independent consultants/freelancers.  Typically the budgets necessary will slide from large to small based on the size of the firm mostly because of the manpower it puts at your disposal.  So if you have a campaign that needs constructed quickly and have a large budget to facilitate it, a large firm is the best bet.  Smaller budget and more time might lend itself to  a smaller firm or individual.  I’ll skip the email marketing commercial here and move on to options outside hiring someone.

The first step is deciding to invest the time to do a campaign.  Think carefully about the answer.  Many times people are better off spending money rather than doing it themselves because they get frustrated and quit or it’s an inefficient use of their time.  If you still believe that’s your best or only bet (no budget for it), than reading is vital.  If you’re reading this you’ve already found one great source of information, the internet.  Do searches and gather some tips and best practices.  Make sure you get some good ideas on all aspects of email marketing, from legal requirements, layout, design, consistency, list building, and content.  The bookstore or library will also have many books on  constructing campaigns.

After crafting a plan that makes sense, get started.  I highly recommend having at least $20 a month available to sign up for an email marketing service.  They’ll provide all legal requirements and usually some templates to get started.  Once you have your target audience in the system and the emails constructed you’re ready to roll.

From this point on it’s really about watching the reports and responses and refining your campaign.  Always look for ways to improve and test changes out to see if they help or hurt your responses.  Do get more sophisticated by making custom layouts and unique content.  Once you start developing good interactions it starts becoming a problem to use “standard templates” or “borowed content”.

A couple words of warning whether you try email marketing yourself or hire someone.  Make sure you want to invest time, money, and/or energy.  Too often people hear that email is “cheap” and effective and they dive in without thinking things through.  A good campaign can be much less expensive than other marketing media, but anything of quality is never “cheap”.  The cost will come in dollars and/or sweat.  If you don’t hire someone and don’t put the sweat in you’ll have a “cheap” campaign that, at best, hurts your business or organizations relationship or, at worst, faces legal action.  If you’re going to do a campaign, commit to it.  Otherwise you’ll get frustrated and quit.  If you’re not in it for at least several months, don’t get started.  It will only waste time , energy, and/or money.

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