Three Steps to Get Started with Email Marketing and Launch a Campaign

  • Two small-business owners shared their experiences in starting their email marketing campaigns.
  • They began by looking at the formats and tools of their competitors.
  • Then, they considered how they would reward subscribers who sign-up.
  • This article is part a “Marketing for Small Business“” A series that explains the basics of marketing strategy for SBOs in order to gain new customers and grow their businesses.

Launching a marketing channel is daunting for anyone, regardless of whether they are starting a business or looking for ways to grow their small business.

That’s certainly how Davis Nguyen, the founder of the consulting-job-search program My Consulting OfferTwo years ago, he felt the need to add email to his marketing mix.

Insider told him that there was so much to learn. “What kind of emails should you send?” What frequency should I send emails? Is there an optimal time? What software should I use?

Two and a quarter years later, having overcome these challenges, he has more than 50k email subscribers and 75% of his clients are via that channel.

“They join because they’re interested in what we do but might be a few months to even a year out from wanting to submit their résumé to firms,” he said. “However, we can keep in touch because we have an email address.”

Tanya Dalton, on the other hand, needed to spin up an email list quickly after closing her first company and losing her sole source income to start the planner business. InkWell Press.

“We needed to get on the ground running,” she stated.

It paid off — on launch day, she said, they had no problem receiving orders.

She explained that she was very intentional about growing her email list.

Insider was able to share the steps Nguyen & Dalton took to make their email program simple but effective.

1. Do your research and ask for assistance

Nguyen stated, “If you’re worried about setting up email advertising, there’s someone who can help.” 

headshot of Davis Nguyen

Davis Nguyen was nervous about launching an email-marketing strategy before he did his research.

Courtesy Davis Nguyen

He crowdsourced information, for example, when he was overwhelmed choosing an email-marketing platform.

“I emailed my friends who were running email-marketing campaigns and asked them, ‘What software would they recommend if you were just starting?'” He said. 

He also suggested using Facebook groups to seek advice, hiring someone through Upwork, or reaching out directly to the email-marketing tool you prefer for help setting up things.

He said, “All email-software companies want to get you started, so their customer support is usually amazing.”

Nguyen went beyond asking for help and began to observe what others in the same industry were doing with their email software.

“I would hope that they aren’t just spending money to campaign that don’t work so you can determine what resonates and how it can be improved,” he stated.

2. Consider a simple, but powerful lead magnet.

Dalton stated that one of the best ways for your email list to grow is to offer something in return for their email address. This is known as a lead magnet in marketing terminology. Nguyen and Dalton suggested creating one that is low-effort for you, but high-value to your target audience. 

Nguyen found his early lead magnets using the marketing channels and materials he already had.

“For example, if someone attended our workshop and they want the slides, I would send them the slides to a page where they could enter their email to get a copy,” said he. He also stated that he would do this when sharing resources on forums or during podcast interviews. 

Dalton made it a success by giving away a planner each year for the rest of his life.

“That sounds huge, but how much does it really cost to give away one planner per year? She said, “Not much.”

She said that her target audience was excited about the giveaway and that people were happy to share their email addresses to enter. She increased visibility by offering more entries to people who shared the giveaway with others.

3. Test with abandon, measure and repeat

Once you have people on the list, you need to decide what emails to send and how often and what subject lines to use to get their attention. Nguyen suggested not to overthink it at the beginning. He suggested that you make your best guess, then take a look at the data.

He said he started out by thinking about his goals with email marketing — to educate his audience and build trust — and which type of content he thought his audience would be most excited about. His team then began sending emails and watching what happened.

He said that some emails received a lot of responses, so we assumed people loved the content. “Others had low engagement and open rate, so we figured that it wasn’t relevant.”

He also looked at more granular aspects of his emails, including by A/B testing his subject lines — something most email-marketing services allow you to do to understand what generates more engagement. Nguyen then created three types of emails that he sent every week: updates and advice from the consulting industry, information about upcoming workshops, as well as a behind-the scenes look into his company. 

He said that he is still experimenting with different types of emails and is not afraid to ask his subscribers what their needs are.

“Twice per year, we send out emails asking our audience what content they want in the inbox,” he stated. In other words, sometimes the easiest approach is the best.

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