Tips to get you started with Email marketing
To help get you started here’s a brief guide to the key things you need to know. This is by no means exhaustive, but these are some of the most important points to help you make the most of email marketing.Why use email marketing?
You might once have produced a newsletter to keep your regular customers informed about new products, special offers, events or other news from your pharmacy. Emailing your news is much quicker and easier for you to prepare and your message can be personalised or tailored to specific groups of people. Do you have a group of customers trying to quit smoking or lose weight, for example? You can provide links to your website to encourage visitors and, if your email is engaging, your readers may forward it to their families, friends or colleagues, which will increase the reach of your message and may bring you new customers.
Other benefits include:
Building your lists:
- Measurable results – email marketing usually generates higher response rates than traditional direct mail marketing
- Recipients opt in – you are sending mail to those who actually want it
- Round the clock marketing – messages can be sent and read at any time
- Print and postage savings
- Can be interactive
- Email is popular.
Before you can begin email marketing you need your list of people to contact.
The key to a successful email marketing plan is permission. You need to ensure that every single person you contact has asked you to – no exceptions. Your list should be composed of people you have an existing contact with –customers, people who have enquired about your pharmacy etc. or people who have explicitly requested to hear from you – for example by filling in a form on your website. Consider asking people who are receiving a specific service from you to sign up for email news updates about that service.
- Never, ever send an email campaign to someone who you haven’t had consent to contact.
- Never purchase email lists.
- Make sure the people you are contacting have asked to be contacted.
Quick ways to build your list:
- Place a subscription form prominently on your website or in your pharmacy.
- Ask everyone who contacts you if they’d like to join your mailing list.
- Ensure that every form you use to collect data asks people if they’d like to receive email updates from you.
Planning your campaign:
You need to view your email marketing as developing an ongoing relationship with your contacts. Like any relationship, it’s a two-way thing, you have to give your contacts something in order to get back what you’re looking for (be it special offers, advice or important information).
Key planning pointers:
- Have a defined goal for your email campaign, so you’ll know when you’ve achieved it.
- Plan a series of communications – regular, expected contact works best, so let your customers know how often you’ll be contacting them and make sure you keep your promise.
- Make sure each message has a real benefit for recipients – useful information, discount vouchers, special offers all work well.
- Make sure your messages contain relevant, timely content that will make readers want to open your next mail.
- If you have a number of different target audiences create different, targeted campaigns for each audience rather than one general campaign.
Building your campaign:
So you’ve got a list, a plan and you’re ready to start. Here are a few key points to remember when you’re building your message.
Sending your campaign:
- Size is important – make sure the entire contents of your message, images included, is less than 50Kb so it’s quick and easy for people to download. Not everyone has broadband!
- Width is important too – most email clients will only display emails less than 550 pixels wide without scrolling.
- Check, and double-check your spelling and grammar.
- Never send out a campaign that is just an image. Many email clients won’t load images by default, so recipients will just see a blank email. However, including relevant images that back up your text is a good idea.
- Test all the links in your messages to ensure they work.
- Include a clear call-to-action for your recipients – for example, a voucher must be used by a certain date or to be eligible for a discount on a repeat purchase you must make the first purchase before a certain date .
- Make sure that the ‘From Name’ for your campaign is consistent every time, and contains your company or brand name.
- The subject line has a huge influence on getting people to read your message – make sure it’s short (fewer than 40 characters including spaces) and gives people a specific reason (benefit) to open your message, now! Don’t use all CAPS, exclamation marks or words like Free as these will get picked up by anti-spam systems.
- Also make sure your subject line is truthful – this is a relationship we’re talking about, if you exaggerate , you’ll lose trust and risk damaging your professional reputation.
- Test, test, test – send previews of your campaign to as many different email accounts (Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail etc.) as you can to make sure everything appears as you expect.
- Always include your company name and an unsubscribe link – it’s the law. If you are using an email service most providers will do this for you.
Now your message is ready to go there are a final couple of points to remember:
Tracking & learning:
- Timing is everything – if you’ve sent campaigns before, check to see when people are actually reading them – you may find that altering the time you send your message can improve results. For example, aggregate data shows that late morning/mid afternoon is the best time to send a campaign, but results vary for each audience.
- Make sure you can measure results – however you send your campaign out, make sure you can gauge success. Statistics like opening rates, link clicks and unsubscribed rates are invaluable.
Once you’ve sent a campaign things don’t stop there – you need to make sure that you learn from every interaction with your audience. If you’ve got access to statistics you can ensure that every campaign you send is better than the last.
Things to watch out for:
- Open Rate (how many people opened your message) – was this unusually high or low? Factors that can affect opening rates include the subject line (was it compelling enough?); the message contents (did you check it wouldn’t be confused with spam?); the time you sent the message (had everyone gone home for the day?) and even the previous campaign you sent (if you didn’t live up to people’s expectations, you may have lost their trust for good.)
- Link clicks – are some links getting more clicks than others? This may be due to the call to action you’re using or simply the placement of the link in the message.
- Unsubscribe rate – if this is more than 1% you’ve got a problem, you may not be targeting the right people or your content simply might not be interesting enough.
- Opening time – when are people actually reading your message? If it’s some time after you sent it then maybe adjusting your send time may increase your open rates.