Successful small business owners — whether they’re new or just niche entrepreneurs — are usually hands-on kinds of people; when they see some task that needs to be completed to operate or grow their company, they tend to roll up their sleeves and get it done. That does not, importantly, mean they do it all themselves; knowing when you can handle something yourself and when you need to call in a professional is a critical part of successful time management.
Many of these “do it myself or hire it out” kinds of decisions are easy; we’re not all master plumbers, for example. But while it’s tempting to believe there’s nothing more to an email marketing campaign than downloading a template you found online somewhere, filling in the details of your doubtless irresistible upcoming sale, buying an inexpensive list of email addresses, and hitting “send,” the reality is quite different. By jumping head first into the deep end of this particularly sensitive marketing pool, you may set yourself up to cause more damage than the money saved could hope to offset. Email marketing can be a powerful tool to capture customers, drive sales, and increase your reach — but it’s not for the weekend dabbler, either.
Email marketing campaigns that work well all share several qualities, but perhaps the most important is they are well-targeted, and carefully tailored. One size rarely fits all, and this is no exception. The people at the other end must be receiving a message that makes sense for them to be reading — either demographically, geographically, or simply by virtue of knowing their interests and needs ahead of time. Professional email marketing partners build email lists not just by volume, but by quality — and the ability to segment their lists to create useful subsets of differentiated groups that can help a particular campaign be successful.
The importance of the quality of these lists cannot be overstated; in email marketing, the oldest of clichés is absolutely true: you never, ever get a second chance to make a first impression. If the message you’ve sent goes to the wrong place, you’ve labeled yourself and your company as spammers. And once you’ve found your way into someone’s spam folder, there’s a lot of work to be done to dig yourself out of it. Using a high-quality list of email addresses — with recipients that are reliably interested in the sort of things your business has to offer in the first place — is much easier and less expensive in the long run.
And these lists aren’t static; interests change, addresses change, trends change. Professionals know that building a list is the first tiny step toward having a list. It needs to be curated, updated, and maintained; the email addresses need to be scrubbed and cleaned regularly, with an eye to keeping a group of addresses together that will give the biggest ROI. There’s more to email address deliverability than simply whether it exists, and professional email marketers use multiple methods to ensure your message will always get through to the people who need to see it.
Finally, successful targeting and tailoring means keeping your messages fresh and relevant to whichever part of the market you’re gunning for. And while you might be up on the latest in your field, successful online marketing trends emerge, shift and fall into irrelevance faster than you might believe possible. What worked to reach and build customer groups last month is almost certainly less effective this month; email marketing professionals are already laying ground work for the campaigns of tomorrow.