Back To School: Getting Started With Email Marketing


Email is a proven marketing channel for small businesses and online retailers. And for good reason – it’s easy to implement, inexpensive to run and the ROI is HUGE (according to the DMA, email returns $44.25 for every $1 spent!). You know this, and you’re eager to achieve similar ROI for your business.

What you want to know is: Where do I begin? How do I get started with email marketing? What are the email marketing best practices I need to follow?

If “crafting an email marketing strategy” sounds too intimidating to touch, you’re not alone. But remember, email works because it’s personal and it’s relevant. Let that guide you as you build a plan around four simple questions.

Who Is Your Audience?

You have visions of email marketing success in your head. But whom do you envision reading your messages?

If you don’t have a current email list, consider who it is you want to attract. How do you envision using email marketing to grow leads and build your business? You’re starting fresh – that’s a great position.

If you do have a current subscriber list, who are these subscribers and how did they opt in? Are they past customers? Or are they new leads who provided an email in exchange for a downloadable resource or contest entry?

If your email subscribers match up with real customers, start by uploading your current prospect or email list to SL360™ to get a clearer understanding of who your audience is. To get started, all you need are the names and addresses of your prospects. This will allow you to craft more targeted messaging.

For example, the Portrait Reports within SL360™ are designed to analyze hundreds of different variables and elements, giving you the demographics and psychographics of your target audience, while also appending new data. This provides a whole new understanding of the consumers you’re trying to reach!

Below are some of the reports small businesses have at their disposal:

Look-Alike Report:

This report applies approximately 20 important demographic elements including age, gender, race, education, income, marital status, family size, presence of children and home ownership.

Enhanced Look-Alike Report:

Building on the traditional Look-Alike report, this report also shows the sectors in which you have a strong or weak market presence, applying more than 170 demographic and interest elements.

Personicx Portrait Report:

This report uses SL360™’s 21 Personicx groups and 70 Personicx clusters to break your audience into identifiable segments, putting names like Rural Parents and Thrifty and Active to behavior patterns.

Data Portrait Analysis:

This workbook provides a detailed view to help you learn about the demographic and lifestyle elements that best contrast, define and describe your customers.

By identifying who your audience members are, you also identify their motivations for subscribing and the type of messages that will keep them engaged.

What Content Types Will You Use?

Once you’ve identified your audience, how will you use email marketing to engage them? Obviously, you’ll want to send emails about new offers and content that inspires past customers to return. But what else can you send?

Types of content may include:

  • Customer success stories
  • Press mentions
  • Event recaps
  • New product information
  • Product hacks (fun ways to use old products better)
  • Content published on your blog
  • “How To” articles
  • Branded videos
  • Trend reports
  • Founder/employee profiles
  • Deals, discounts, promotions!

The opportunities for content types are endless, but don’t pick just one! Keep your subscribers interested by rotating content types during your email cycle. Maybe it’s a video every month or a trend report every quarter. Give them something to look forward to and something fresh to read.

How Often Will Emails Go Out?

You know “who” and “what,” but how about “when”?

There’s no perfect frequency for email marketing. Instead, you’ll want to test what works best for your audience and focus on providing value. You may find you can comfortably share a weekly Friday message to send subscribers into the weekend with hot deals. Or, you may find the opposite is true, and opt to send a monthly email that touches on industry news or presents your promotions for the next month. Or, you may fall somewhere in between still.

That’s okay!

As a general rule, aim to send something at least once per month to maintain top of mind awareness. Strive to be the always-helpful, always-informative friend in their inbox. Be the email they can’t wait to read.

What Is Your Voice?

Is your brand happy or serious?
Are you conservative or do you live on the edge?
Do customers find you warm and personable, or authoritative and reserved?

Just like people, businesses have distinct voices and personalities. These elements help brands to become recognizable and familiar to customers. Think of your favorite song. How many notes do you need before you can identify it? Not many, right? Close your eyes and imagine your grandmother’s apple pie. Can you smell it?

This “emotional DNA” is essential to your brand and should be maintained through all customer touch points. You can’t expect to write a quirky email newsletter if your website is super corporate and straight-laced. You’ll send mixed messages to your audience and fragment your brand persona in their mind.

We understand that getting started in email marketing can sound intimidating. However, by following email marketing best practices – understanding your audience, your messaging, your frequency and your voice – you’ll begin building the framework for email marketing success.

Need help getting started with email marketing? SL360™ can help!


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