Posted on 1 Comment

Email marketing for SME business – tips and tricks

Email marketing – the different options for sending bulk emails

Sending out emails to promote your business conjures up a few different mental images for people. Some may think of a large store they buy products from that regularly send out emails they enjoy looking through. Other may instantly think of the annoying spam emails that drive them insane. Email marketing can be a great tool to promote your business (particularly the online part of any business) and drive sales and traffic, but it is important that it’s done right.

How can I do an email marketing campaign for my business?

There are a couple of options that will depend on the size and scope of the campaign as well as your ongoing needs. For small businesses with a smaller budget and a smaller email list you can utilise what you already have to do a cheap and cheerful email. For businesses with a larger budget and/or a larger email database and an ongoing need to manage their email database a more complex solution may well be needed.

What is the difference between the two email marketing methods?

The most basic difference between the two methods is that method one uses the email software you use every day (like Microsoft Outlook). In it’s simplest form a webpage that contains the contents of the email is copied and pasted into a new email and sent to the recipients.
Method two involves using professional provider to send the email out to the recipients for you. Using a third party, the email is designed – turned into a webpage and sent the recipients through mail servers set up for that purpose. The messy business of personalising and managing the unsubscribes is done by the provider, and they can often provide interesting reporting on how well the email performed.

Choosing the best way to send out marketing emails for your situation

In order to use the first (and cheapest) method is determined by the following:
1) You have a small database of email addresses
2) You can create a basic webpage or get one made for the email
3) You can manage unsubscribes yourself in some kind of database (like a spreadsheet)
4) You don’t mind not having any reporting on how well the email did

If you answer no to any of the above you may need to look into method two.

Email marketing Method one – using Outlook to send emails

The first thing you will need is a message to send out. Do up the email in some kind of work processor like Word to make sure there are no spelling mistakes. Think of a catch subject line but avoid any “Spammy” terms that will get filtered as spam like “free”.
Ideally you then need to turn the page and any images into a webpage that is online on a server. If this is not possible you might just try testing copying and pasting the contents into an email and sending it to some kind of third party email like Yahoo or gmail to see how it comes through.

If a webpage is created for the email it must be done in “old school” 90’s coding using tables and very basic code to ensure the email program can read it properly. One the email is complete it can be opened in a web browser, and edit, select all, then copy the content of the page.

A new email can then be created in your email software (like Microsoft Outlook) and then Paste the contents of the webpage into the new email. The email must be in html format to work (in Outlook tools / mail format / message format – pick html).

You can then put the email addresses of the recipients into the BCC field (make sure it’s the BCC field and not the TO or the CC field) to ensure that when the receipients get the email they cannot see everyone else the email went to. This is a common mistake and could mean your customer email list ends up being used by one of your customers to spam the rest of your customers. This can make you VERY unpopular with your customers.

Testing is an important part of the process – make sure you send a few test emails to as many test addresses as you can to iron out any problems first.

Method 2 – using a professional service to send your marketing email

There are a couple options here – you can use an online service or get a third party to take carre of the process for you. The easiest of the two is to get a third party to create and send the email for you. One of the trickiest parts or creating a marketing email is making email browser (eg Microsoft Outlook) complient emails as they are stuck in the 90’s as to the type of content they can handle.
Firstly a webpage is created to be used as the email typically they are only around 600 pixels wide to fit in an email browser. This webpage will also contain any personalised fields you want (like the receipents first name for example) and links back to your website and the webpage version of the email in case they have trouble reading the email in their email browser.

Database management using a email marketing company

If you have a larger database of email addresses database management can be a real headache. Firstly you need to make sure there are no duplicate email addresses in the database. If someone does not want to get emails from you they may unsubscribe – and you need to make sure they do not get more email sent to them, as apart from being illegal can be really annoying for them. Luckily a decent service providers system will take care of this for you, weeding out duplicate addresses automatically and automatically making sure unsubscribed addreses are not sent any more emails.

The email has gone out – now what?

Once the email has been approved and the provider has sent a test email to you which is approved it’s time for the email to go out. Once the email starts hitting people inboxes they will start to view the email. The emails are able to determine if the images in the email have been viewed and uses this information to work out if the email has been opened and how many times. It can also work out if the receipents click on any links in the email. This information is combined and the provider will supply you with a login to view the reporting. This information can be very useful in determining how successful a campaign was.

Hopefully this rundown of email marketing was useful to you – feel free to comment below if you would like to know any other specific information on email marketing.