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Updated 29 Feb 2020

Crafting outstanding e-mailers

The difference between a good email marketer and a great one.

Gail Goodman, Entrepreneur, 25 June 2012  Share  0 comments  Print

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Email marketing is an easy and cost effective way for anyone to reach their target audience. We’ve seen it work for small businesses, franchises and other entrepreneurs as well as organisations, non-profits and associations and we’ve discovered some common traits that differentiate good email marketers from great email marketers. Successful email marketers:

1. Know their audience

As you move from being a good email marketer to a great one, you learn things about your audience along the way. Say a sporting goods store emails a promotion on kayaks, canoes and accessories to its entire list. Hikers and cyclists might not open the email.

But if the same sporting goods store segments its general list into boaters, hikers and cyclists – they’ve got the basis for three targeted mailings based on customers’ interests. Segmenting can divide groups by other characteristics too. Are they prospective customers, casual buyers or VIP club members?

Profiling can occur on different levels as you get to know your customers’ needs and interests. Quality wins out over quantity. It’s about targeting meaningful content to smaller audiences.

2. Give subscribers valuable content

Successful email marketers provide a mix of informational and promotional content that shows their expertise and offers useful or entertaining advice and insights. Make customers feel special. A savvy wine merchant doesn’t just advertise specials, but offers a short article on why this year’s French Beaujolais are so fabulous.

Useful little tips are appreciated, making it likely that you are the go-to business when the customer is ready to buy. Coupons, sales alerts and advance peeks at new merchandise are all valuable. Mix in interesting content to separate your emails from the other promotions bombarding customers’ inboxes. Become a trusted advisor, and your emails will always be welcomed.

3. Have a goal for each campaign

Know why you’re sending an email and what you want to happen. A clear “call to action” produces the best results. It’s not always about making a sale. I know an HR consultant who sends a monthly tip just to stay connected to customers. Make sure your call to action doesn’t get lost amid other links, copy and graphics.

It may be a click to buy something, sign up for a service, fill out a form, read an article or get more information, visit your website or store, or call for a consultation. Yes, sometimes you’ll judge your success based on open rates, click-throughs and sales. But often it’s how much the phone rings after you’ve sent your campaign. Your goal is to make sales and engage your audience.

4. Adhere to the basics of best practice

Permission is more than polite; it’s the mantra of all legitimate email marketers. Get permission before putting any name you’ve collected on your email list. Make sure your “From” line includes your business name, and your “Subject” line is specific and free of screaming capital letters and exclamation points.

Let them know who is sending it and why they should open it. In a world of information overload, only thoughtful, welcomed emails have a chance of breaking through the static.

5. Pay attention to their reports

Email marketing offers wonderful, real-time intelligence on the people reading your emails. Review your tracking and subscriber reports and see what’s working and what’s not. Experiment with segmented lists and subject lines. Write new content. Solicit reader feedback.

Respect unsubscribes. Read up on industry trends. Great email marketers make email marketing part of their business plans. They learn more about their customers and email marketing best practices. They pay attention to their reports and try new things to improve their campaigns. They avoid common mistakes.

If these top five traits seem like a lot to accomplish, set a goal to work on one a month for the next five months. You’ll go from good to great before your know it.

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About the author

Gail Goodman, Entrepreneur

Gail Goodman is CEO of Constant Contact, an online provider of email marketing, event marketing, social media marketing, and online survey tools and services for small businesses and organizations. She is a member of the board of trustees of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council and a member of the board of directors of SCORE. Gail holds a bachelor's degree from The University of Pennsylvania and a MBA from Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth. Follow her on Twitter: @Gail_Goodman

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