Tools for Entrepreneurs: Your First Email Marketing Campaign

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welcome everyone to tools for entrepreneurs brought to you by General Assembly and Google for entrepreneurs my name is Anna lindau and I work as a general manager for General Assembly let’s start today by talking about what we’ll cover first I’ll explain the what and why and then I’ll share some instructions on how to get started with email marketing I want to take a moment to highlight why email marketing can be such a powerful driver for your business in a world where we have multiple platforms to reach users email can sometimes be overlooked as outdated however it’s still one of the fastest most direct and most inexpensive ways to see results at General Assembly email along with word of mouth has been our main marketing channel for the past three years it’s really rare to have such undivided attention from your audience now let’s talk about what email marketing is and what it isn’t take a second to look at the emails in this sample inbox which ones look like email marketing messages to you if you chose these ones you’re correct let’s talk about why first onboarding emails these types of emails bring new users onto an email list to introduce them to your brand and products so users will get these right when they sign up for your email list special offers are just that you’re probably used to receiving them from Airlines restaurants and retailers like clothing stores newsletters come on a consistent schedule and have generally consistent content as well so you might get a weekly newsletter from a brand you subscribe to lead nurturing drip campaigns or emails customized to you based on the actions you’ve taken in the past or where you are in the marketing funnel so to speak their drip campaigns because they drip to you one at a time a particularly powerful way of getting users to engage by gradually introducing them to your offerings is to use these types of campaigns and finally we have the engagement email this is a type of content marketing meaning you’re using content to help keep your intent is that what you’re sending them is valuable even if they don’t want to buy anything at that exact moment now here are the emails that don’t count as email marketing okay things like password resets are triggered by the back end of a system and they don’t really act as marketing although I have seen some brands for instance cape they’d use these emails as a moment to reinforce branding so they might include cheeky copy or interesting graphics to just surprise and delight their users also we should point out that spam doesn’t count so now you understand what email marketing is so how do you get started a fellow email marketer once told me that the most important email you’ll ever send is the first one I truly agree with that and I’m excited to help you start with your first email campaign first you’ll want to craft your email content we’ll get to that in a moment next you need to choose and set up your ESP this is an acronym I’ll use a few times throughout this presentation it means email service provider these are web applications that manage your subscribers help you build your content send your emails and provide you analytics that you can use to judge whether your campaigns are working lastly you’ll style your email by choosing or designing a template so let’s take a look at one of General Assemblies campaigns as an example of the components you’ll need first a clear from address and reply to email this should be clear to the user so that they don’t mistakenly mark your email as spam some companies just use their company name and others use a name of a person from wherever so bill at Bob’s furniture the reply to email should be the email address you want any user replies to go to some ESPs will set these for you and some will allow you to just type in the email address yourself now your subject line this is a place where you can get creative you can try a descriptive one with the offer included like the one you see here or some brands see good results with cryptic subject lines that pique the users interest the Obama campaign did this well with subject lines like dinner with Joe the key to getting subject lines right is constantly testing and iterating this is a great place to a be test and I’ll get to that later as well by sending to different groups different subject lines and seeing which one performs better of course your to address is your subscribers email make sure you’re collecting these by legal means and including a one click unsubscribe link in the bottom of your email your ESP will do this for you but just keep it in there let’s look inside the email at the components you should include first we have content this is your copy some brands have good results with lengthy copy but as a rule I like to tell people to keep it short when getting started being shortened to the point means you won’t ramble on and include things that you might not be necessary to drive your message then you’ll want to draw your readers eye towards your call to action or basically the next step you want the reader to take finally don’t forget to include your one click on subscribe link it’s the law now that you know what an email should include let’s talk about how you should go about setting up the platform you’ll need to be able to send if you’re a small business or an individual a free solution is fine to start and I found that these really do scale up to a pretty impressive level I personally like MailChimp for its intuitive user interface and reasonable freemium model it will stay reasonably priced up until a pretty significant point if you’re working with a large company and a big subscriber base chances are you already have an email service provider that your company contracts with on an annual basis you can change from one to another but you should be warned it can be expensive and time-consuming to do so at General Assembly we use a large enterprise email service provider called pardon I’ve also had good experiences with one called Bronto and I’ve heard good things about responses within most ESPs you’ll see several components I’ll run through them here your lists are the groupings you’ve organized your subscribers into so that you can send to them for example a General Assembly we have lists based on what cities our subscribers are located in this is a pretty straightforward group you might try other things like what interests you think your subscribers have based on things that they’ve clicked on in the past that would be a more in-depth technical implementation lists are powerful because they allow you to target subscribers with content that’s meaningful to them you might also see a subscribers tab in your ESP that shows you all your subscribers all together you can use this tab to look at various attributes or sort your subscribers your templates are where you store the email layouts you’ve built and you’ll probably also find samples that the ESP has provided you’ll notice differences in the templates between how many images columns or the amount of content provided reports or analytics are where you’ll analyze performance of your email campaigns and there will also be a mechanism to schedule upcoming sends when choosing a template you should take into consideration balancing copy images and your call to action this ballast is important not just because it helps your emails look good and perform well but also because it helps stop them from getting caught in spam filters here are a few examples of various email templates looking at these emails is it clear to you what action you should take or at least what action the company wants you to take this is a good litmus test to do when thinking about whether your email is laid out in the best way calls to action should always be clear and prominent so the user knows exactly what to do people often talk to me about when they should send their emails there’s not one right time to send an email it really depends on your business for first-time emailers I’d recommend starting with weekday mornings but probably not Friday test that and see what happens you can always iterate from there if you have the kind of company that really does a lot of business on the weekends maybe Friday does make sense but this is just a rule of thumb you can try try looking at what other brands in your industry are doing for instance in the e-commerce space Gilt Groupe introduced a Sunday night email which I thought was really interesting and now I’ve seen a lot of other brands follow suit which tells me that the data must have told them it was working to come back to send time first think about when you’ll be deploying your email you might want to be sensitive if you have lots of customers in other time zones morning to them won’t be the same this morning to you some ISPs will let you do something called send time optimization or they could have a slightly different term for it that allows your email service provider to guess when the best time is to send to each user and this would be something they’d personalized based on knowing one users have opened in the past you might want to check out this feature it can be powerful to help you get better open rates but you’d probably need to wait until you’ve had a few cents so that the ESP will know when your user is open before you press send you should know what a successful email campaign looks like let’s discuss some common considerations the open rate is the percentage of recipients that open the email so that’s like if you have a hundred people that got your email and ten of them open it your open rate would be 10% the click-through rate is the percentage of recipients that clicked on a link inside the email so 100 recipients five people click on a link your click-through rate is 5% the bounce rate is the percentage of recipients that did not receive an email this is divided into two categories soft bounces and hard bounces soft bounces could be caused by something like a full mailbox whereas a hard bounce would be more likely to be caused by something like a completely invalid email address your conversion rate is the percentage of recipients that take the action you wanted them to take for example the number of recipients of your email that then went on to purchase a dress from your online boutique or the number of recipients that went on to book a flight via your airline conversion is in the eye of the beholder so it’s however you define it if one person out of 100 purchases an airline ticket after receiving the email your conversion rate is 1% spam complaints are the number of recipients that have marked your email as spam this is bad and something you really want to avoid email service providers tend to be pretty strict about spam complaints and will have no reservations with kicking you off their platform if they think that you have too many I often get asked about a/b testing this can be a great way to make sure your emails are performing optimally like any experiment you need to start with a hypothesis for instance you might be wondering if including your users name in the subject line will increase open rates you can test this by setting aside a test group and splitting it in half each half gets one type of the subject line whichever subject line performs better will be the one that gets sent to the remainder of the group most ESPs have a be testing capabilities that can do this automatically but it’s still a good thing to understand and be able to talk about here’s an example of an a/b test we ran a general assembly we were wondering whether a more image-heavy or more text heavy email would perform better note that we only changed one variable whether or not the bulleted text was on the yellow background if you change too many variables your test results will get clouded and that’s not a good experiment

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