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Getting Started with Your Own E-Mail Marketing Campaign (7 Easy Steps)

Upendo Ventures: How to Get Started with E-Mail Campaigns

If you’ve never done your own e-mail marketing campaign, the very idea of it can be quite overwhelming – intimidating at the least.  Your head will be full of questions and you’ll like not know where to start.  But that’s just it.  You must start.  As our friends at Nike would say, “Just do it!”  So let’s get started!

Why Should I Do This?

Having a quality and consistent e-mail newsletter to market your business is perhaps one of the most important things you can do as part of an overall content marketing strategy.  If you’re not regularly sending e-mails to your customer base, you’re literally leaving money on the table.  Your e-mail marketing campaigns are an ideal way to keep your audience reminded that you exist, and that you’re ready and willing to be there for them when they’re ready.  It’s very inexpensive and has a huge return on your investment over time. 

Are you still not convinced?  Let’s talk some numbers then…

  • E-mails you send are 45 times more likely to be seen, versus your Facebook posts.
  • Your e-mails are 6 times more likely to result in a click-through, versus your posts on Twitter.
  • Just over 4% of your website visitors buy something from your website, versus 2.5% and 0.6% for search engine and social media visitors, respectively.
  • 72% of people prefer to receive promotions through e-mail, over other mediums.
  • Businesses tend to see an astonishing 3,800% return on their investment.

Create an Account

There are numerous e-mail marketing tools out there, but the most popular definitely seems to be MailChimp.  It’s hard not to be.  MailChimp is easy to use, feature-rich, and is completely free for up to 2,000 contacts.  There’s literally nothing to lose, so create your MailChimp account

When you create your account, be sure to categorize your organization the best you can so that your statistics are as accurate as possible.  The good folks at MailChimp have done an exceptional job at providing documentation, and this is discussed in their default settings documentation.

Export Your Contacts

You have contacts.  There are tons of people you’ve e-mails over the years.  Whether you find them in your Gmail account, a spreadsheet, or anywhere else…  Begin exporting your contacts from all available sources, and then import the contacts into your MailChimp account.  All you need to get started is an e-mail address for each recipient, but having their first name too would be most ideal.

The best possible scenario is if you have a CRM in use already.  For example, if you’re using HubSpot Sales, you can export your contacts quite easily.

Choose a Template

All e-mail marketing systems have templates for you to use.  You can either use them as-is (there’s nothing wrong with that in many cases), or you can modify it to suit your needs.  MailChimp has a wide variety of templates available to you for free, and you don’t need to be a website developer to make updates to it.  Though, it would help.

Decide on Your Content

This is perhaps the most paralyzing thing I see for people.  If you’re not already a content creation pro, you might be sitting there without a clue what to put into your first newsletter – much less a long-term content marketing strategy.  You don’t need to be a pro, and you only need to worry about your first newsletter (for now).  Remember, you just need to start!

You’ve most likely already begun blogging and your website has all sorts of pages to talk about.  Put together three to five things based on your most recent existing content from your website and write a summary about each.  Keep it brief though.  Only use 1-3 sentences to describe each piece of content, and do not copy and paste the summary from your website.

Create Your First Campaign

You’re almost there.  How exciting! 

Prioritize the content you’ve generated into what you believe to be their order of importance.  Create your first campaign, and begin putting your content into the e-mail template.  Each piece of content would be best presented with an image to help highlight it.  You probably can reuse images from the content itself.  Keep it simple!

Don’t forget to set the Google Analytics settings and have your e-mails pushed to your social channels.

Test the E-Mail

Once you get your first newsletter to a good starting point, use the built-in features to test the e-mail.  You’ll want to send it to multiple types of e-mail accounts, and to several people who you can trust to give you a valid opinion.  You’ll want their feedback, but take any feedback you receive with a grain of salt.  It’s your newsletter, not theirs.  Only react to the feedback that’s functional.  The important thing here is to get your first newsletter ready to send.  The most important feedback you’ll receive will come from your target audience.

Send Your Campaign

Hooray!  You’re about to send your first e-mail campaign!  Quick, click the send button before you chicken out!

Don’t just send the newsletter any ol’ time.  You’ll want to measure your newsletter performance over time, but traditionally, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings around 8 to 9 AM are typically the times to send a newsletter.  By “best,” I’m referring to getting the highest possible open and click-through rates.  MailChimp has really useful send features to allow you send your e-mail on any specific day and time.  (The paid version even has a cool feature called time warp, allowing you to send a newsletter to your audience at a specific time, in their actual time zone.)

Open Rate:  This is the percentage of people that open your e-mail.  This is measured by images being requested from the campaign server, so it’s never going to be 100% accurate, because some e-mail providers/clients don’t automatically allow images in e-mails to be displayed, and yet others will mask the source of the image.

Click-Through Rate:  This is the percentage of recipients that clicked on a link in your e-mail.  The more compelling and relevant the content is, the higher the click-through rate will be.  Ideally, all of your links will lead visitors back to your website.

Bonus Tips!

Here are a few extra tips to make you look like a pro when your audience receives your newsletter.

  • Include a piece of content that’s completely exclusive to your newsletter.  Your audience should be incentivized to join and stay on your newsletter list.
  • Don’t sound markety or salesy…  No one wants to feel like they’re being sold to.  Think of your newsletter as a free and useful resource instead.  Your audience should feel like they got something special.
  • Send at least one newsletter a month, but don’t send more than one a week.  We’re all overwhelmed with e-mails these days.  So keep this in mind.
  • Compare the click-through and open rates from month-to-month.  Make any adjustments that you see.
  • Content marketing campaigns are a long-game, allowing your grow your business over time.  You won’t likely see instant results, but you should see incremental improvements over the course of several months.  Don’t quit!

That’s it… If you follow these simple steps, everyone you send your newsletter too will think you’re a professional content marketer!

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About the Author

Will StrohlFounder & CEO
Upendo Ventures
Overall, Will has nearly 20 years of experience helping website owners become more successful in all areas, including mentoring, website development, marketing, strategy, e-commerce, and more.

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