Your contact database in your CRM system isn’t just a list of those all-important names and numbers attached to your clients and prospects; it’s the key to launching a successful email marketing plan. As mentioned in our previous post discussing Getting Specific with your Marketing Target: CRM and Marketing Segmentation, it is the detail with which any company keeps their CRM records that allow that database of contacts to detail the specific target market segments that you may want to reach out to via an email marketing campaign.
That being said, we know you have kept copious and detailed notes in your CRM database and segmented your contacts based on any number of criteria, from shopping history, geographic location or industry. Now it’s time to put those segments to work in an email campaign.
Email Marketing 101
There are three points to consider before launching your small business email marketing campaign.
- List validation.
- Internal or External Vendor Use.
- Marketing Goal.
Before we break down the above points, keep in mind that all email Marketing is controlled by the CAN-SPAM Act guidelines set by the Bureau of Consumer Protection. These rules and regulations are in place to control SPAM emails and fraudulent motives by emailers.
You may know that you grew your list the organic way, through other contacts, through networking events or from existing clients, but your email marketing service depends on a truly validated list before you begin an email marketing plan. This means not only do you have to clean your list for invalid email addresses, you also need to consider that there may be contacts that would be adverse to email marketing on that hard-earned contact list in your CRM directory. Perhaps your list is old, and some of the contacts do not remember having met you. Maybe they simply don’t like the medium of communication.
Be sure that you comb through your list before downloading it and see if those detailed notes you keep on all your contacts offer any info that may show a reluctance to receive your email. You may want to start with one segment of your contacts to begin and add them as you go.
Though it can be a long process, sending your contact list an email from your company email server initially with an invite to “join your email list” – perhaps with an incentive – is the best way to go, this way your email list builds in a traceable way that even outside email vendors cannot ignore.
Internal or External Vendor Use
Depending on your email server setup, you may have the ability to email your marketing content from your internal server. If so, keep your send-outs to 50 a day to avoid your server being listed as a SPAM source. You can create stylish HTML emails to send out this way, you just won’t have the tracking options and email marketing metrics offered by outside vendors.
If you intend to use an outside email marketing solution like aWeber or ConstantContact, then along with already-designed email templates, you have the ability to send out thousands of emails at a time to your segments. Metrics and tracking reports come along with most of the packages and can be scaled to your needs in many cases. Keep in mind that even with these options, the validity of your list is crucial so you may have to still start slow despite all those CRM contacts in your database, 50 invites at a time from your internal email server.
Now that you’ve complied with CAN SPAM ACT guidelines and are building a database of email contacts to market to, you need to decide what the point of conversion will be for your email message. In other words, what do you want your email recipients to do once they have read your email? What is your call to action?
You can have several in one email newsletter. Maybe you want them to subscribe to your blog, perhaps to attend a seminar or webinar event you are hosting. Perhaps you are offering a discounted service. No matter the conversion point(s), you need to be sure that the tone and graphics in your email newsletter support those goals, in lieu of detracting from them.
Email marketing can be a powerful tool for any business, but no matter how large your CRM database, it is doubtful you will be able to use the whole of it at the start of your email marketing campaign. Check those notes on each client account, and start inviting your contacts to join you in the realm of email marketing. With engaging and timely content, you will see that contact list grow even beyond your original CRM database over time and gain strength as a tool in your marketing arsenal.