Email Marketing

The ABCs of Email Marketing

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Learning anything new can be tricky. The same goes for admitting that you’ve been in the game a long time and you still don’t know all the rules. I was working at home not too long ago and the radio was playing somewhere in the house and I wasn’t really paying attention until, for some reason, a song came on that got my attention: “ABC, 123” by the Jackson Five. Know it?

They sing about things being as easy as “ABC, 123,” and I thought that was a good way to not only help teach those new to the email marketing game how it’s played, but also a great reminder of some B2B and B2C best practices that even old pros may not have considered in a while.

So, here they are: the ABC’s of Email Marketing.

Adapt. There are no set rules when it comes to running a successful email campaign, but a good rule of thumb is to always be willing to learn, grow, and adapt. In this sense, B2B email marketing campaigns can learn from B2C campaign best practices, and vice-versa.

Business. You! Who are you? Do your prospective customers know? Make sure they do! You want whomever is reading your emails to not only recognize who you are, but remember you as well.

Customer. The most important part of any email campaign is the person it is being sent to. What do they like? What do they appreciate? Knowing your product means knowing your customer.

Creativity. The truth is that most of the emails in anyone’s inbox are boring. Make sure yours stand out so they won’t get sent to the bin before they even have a chance. Creativity is key. Surprise them with something new, or rework something old. Be dynamic!

Campaigns. We wouldn’t have added extra C’s to our alphabet if they weren’t important. One email is okay. More than one is excellent. If they open your first email and are interested and read that they will receive more information soon, they will have a vested interest and will be waiting for the next one. There are different best practices for both B2C and B2B email marketing campaigns – learn what they are and implement them.

Design. This is an obvious one, but clean, sleek design can make any text more appealing than it was originally. Color, font, shape, and texture are all important.

Eloquence. It’s not just what you are saying that’s important; it’s also the words you use to say it. Always keep in mind that the person you’re speaking to doesn’t know your product as well as you do. So speak well, but try not to use too many technical terms or unnecessary verbiage. Conciseness creates concentration!

Friends. Refer-a-Friend options are always great in emails. It’s helpful to let them know that if they think someone else should get the same information that they received, they should let you k now so you can pass that information on for them.

Generosity. B2C campaigns afford more opportunities to give deals and coupons than B2B email marketing campaigns do, but they can work for both. Whether you’re offering a limited time only seat at a webinar or a percent-off coupon, offering an incentive is often all it takes to get a lot of people to read what you have to say.

Help. Always respond to inquiries as quickly as possible. Sometimes when there are a lot of inquiries, responses are slow or nonexistent. You never know who could turn into an excellent lead, so give everyone the attention they deserve.

Intuition. This applies in any situation – if something feels wrong, don’t do it. Similarly, if something feels out of place, don’t write it. People are only willing to give so much of their time to reading emails, so make sure that time is worth it. If you follow your gut, it will make generating leads a lot less stressful.

Junk. Avoid it! No one wants to be in the spam or junk folder. People judge an email (and whether or not they will read it) by its title, so make sure yours speak of quality, not spam.

Kick. Implementing these best practices should start now. Give yourself the kick you need to start working on improving your B2C and B2B email marketing best practices with Marketo’s Email Marketing Cheat Sheet.

Learn. While you know a lot already, always be open to new ways of doing the things you do. Just because a process works well the way it is doesn’t mean you can’t make it work better.

Market! Find the right market for your campaigns before sending them out. Targeting the right group of people will save you the time and energy of attending to a lot of people who really aren’t a fit for what you’re trying to sell.

Names. Automating your system to greet email addressees by name is a great way to impress potential customers. Personalizing an email makes the reader feel as if he or she knows you already. With a B2C campaign, this will help you create that quick relationship you need to make a sale. With a B2B email marketing campaign, it could be beneficial to add even more personalization – adding a quick question or sentiment will let them know you’re there and you’re listening.

Originality. Read your competitor’s blogs and re-examine emails you have sent out in the past. Make sure you know what has already been done so you can do something new – it’s okay to rework old content but the best source way to get positive feedback is to generate new content (and a lot of it).

Permission. People hate it when you send them emails they don’t want. If you’re sending to people who don’t want you to have their information, they’re not going to respond no matter how clever your campaign may be.

Quality. Utilizing just one best practices technique in your email campaigns will help you initially, but the way to reach real quality is to use as many best practices as you can. From attentiveness to your reader’s needs to zestful writing to keep their attention, every bit helps.

Relationships. Building a relationship over time is an integral part of a B2B marketing campaign. Try giving your B2C campaigns some of this flavor by building one around the concept of a relationship: a series of emails that lets them get to know you – and if they want, lets you get to know them too.

Symbols. Avoid them. People don’t like seeing lots of “$$$” symbols because it tends to cheapen the quality of the message trying to be conveyed. B2C campaigns can occasionally get away with these, but B2B campaigns definitely can’t.

Technology. With so many companies turning to technology and mobility, it’s crucial to keep in mind the changing times and how you can change with them. Do your best to keep up-to-date. Social media can help a B2B marketer keep better relationships with prospects, but it can also help teach B2C marketers more about what certain types of people like and what they respond best to.

Update. A big roadblock for any email campaign can be making sure the people you mean to get your emails do, in fact, receive them. This means remembering to update your database and lists as often as possible. While list hygiene may be grueling and time-consuming, it is worth it in the end.

Verification. One very helpful tip is to have people enter their email twice when they add themselves to your email subscription list! This will help keep typos at bay, because the person has to verify what they’re entering. It will make them happy because they’ll receive the emails they want, and it will make you happy because you will have less faulty data in your system.

White paper. People love information, especially when they have the opportunity to learn important things before their coworkers and companions do. Provide them with cutting edge information first, and they’ll remember you the next time they are looking for new data.

X. Imagine a big red X here. This is a reminder, before the list is over, of all the things you need to avoid. Cross them out. No spamming, email use without permission, or pushy, overbearing language.

Yesterday. Reworking old information and sending it out in a new package is a great way to keep up consistent email traffic without constantly having to create new content from scratch.

Zest. We can’t stress enough how important creativity is when it comes to your B2C and B2B email marketing campaigns. Always strive to try something new, something fun, something innovative.

Like ABC and 123, learning the best practices of B2C and B2B email marketing can be easy, given the right amount of practice and patience.

If you think there are words that should be added to this alphabet list, let me know in comments what they are and why you think they’re integral to email marketing. Thanks!