Every day, we receive more email than we’ll ever open. At some point, it seemed like a good idea to sign up for a particular mailing list or subscribe to a favorite group’s updates. But the flow of email rarely slows, so most of us are picky about what we actually open and read. If you want your firm’s email to be a part of the inbox in crowd, you need an email marketing strategy that takes into account who your recipients are and what they’re looking for and allows you to tailor your content to them.
Consider this: 60 percent of marketers say that email is currently producing a positive ROI; an additional 32 percent believe email marketing will eventually produce a positive ROI. These numbers are difficult to ignore.
First up, let’s talk about the quality of your list. Contact lists are for sale, and you can buy them at your discretion to include in your email marketing. But it’s better to grow your own contacts organically. Someone who has responded to an offer, subscribed to your blog or downloaded content from your site in the past is much more likely to use your services in the future. Take the time and money you would use to purchase email lists and instead create white papers, e-books and other downloadable content that will encourage visitors to offer their email addresses.
It goes without saying that it’s best to keep your email schedule fairly regular — and it’s better to err on the side of often so that you stay on your prospects’ radar. To some extent, though, your content will drive your time line. After all, there’s no point in sending an email with no content — or, possibly worse, subpar content. Here are some good benchmarks for when to hit send:
- To announce new content. Develop a content marketing strategy and then follow it! This means producing guides and white papers, maybe even video content. If you want recipients to actually open your emails, you have to give them a reason. Offering them an education is a great way to do this. The next time the people on your list are singling out emails to trash, they’ll remember the value of your content and keep you out of the trash.
- To promote webinars. Like content, there’s value here: things to learn and networks to grow. Because your audience cared enough to get on your mailing list, there’s a good chance a significant number of them will attend your webinar. Not only do you get to present your topic, but you also have the chance to listen to the issues that your prospects bring to the virtual table — and listening goes a long way in creating loyalty.
- To make hard offers. Start a conversation. Send your list an offer for a free consultation or something similar — something with value. This is your chance to shine. Remember, this isn’t about a sales pitch; this is simply sharing. If you push too hard, you risk the relationship. Show them what you’re capable of and that you’re willing to put in the time to learn about the issues they’re facing.
These sorts of events are content/offer dependent, so it’ll be up to you and/or your partner agencies to produce content or create the deals that you’re emailing about. But there are other mailworthy reasons for reaching out that can fill in the empty spaces between content generation:
- Social media aggregation. Remember, not all content has to be yours. Pull together your favorite content from around the Web, preferably related to your services or industry. This will keep your leads informed and will keep your firm top of mind as a thought leader. In essence, you become the gatekeeper to your industry’s trends.
- Blog subscription. Not everyone on your list, including those who signed up through your blog, will be familiar with every post. Pull some favorites and share links to them. Package related posts together. Make your email marketing strategy all about educating your prospects. Doing so will likely grow the number of subscribers to your blog and will once again promote your role as a thought leader in your industry. You’ll be building the trust and familiarity that business relationships thrive on.
Keep in mind as you develop an email marketing strategy that it’s not a substitute for other means of traffic generation, like SEO or content creation. Rather, it’s a means of developing your larger online marketing strategy. Email isn’t the content you’re sharing — it’s one of the ways you share content. But because a solid email marketing strategy is built, first and foremost, around people and firms that have already reached out to you in some way — and are on your mailing list for a reason — it can be one of the most powerful ways to nurture leads and grow your business. The relationship is already there. Nurture it with the proper content, share your insights and build trust and you’ll be well on your way to turning those relationships into new business for your firm.