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Email Marketing: Best Practices to Boost Your MSP or VAR Business
As you look to boost results with your existing or planned email marketing campaigns, we want to give you a review of the foundations of a successful email
As you look to boost results with your existing or planned email marketing campaigns, we want to give you a review of the foundations of a successful email marketing campaign.
It all starts with a permission-based email list. Before you send one email or come up with any content for campaigns, who is on your list really determines whether an email marketing campaign will be successful.
The Key to Email Marketing Success: Permission-Based List Building
Permission-based list building is one of the most difficult things to do well in email marketing. It takes time, thought, effort, and even a bit of luck to do it right. We mention luck because even if you do everything ‘right’ with building your email list, the audience’s desires may change just as you’re about to send your first campaign. We’ll address this more later on in this blog piece, but keep in mind, list building is an uphill battle. But it’s one that’s not impossible to win by any means.
Focus on these components as you build up your email list:
- Getting explicit permission to email
- Confirming you have permission to email
- Not emailing too often
- Setting the right expectations with the frequency of your emails
- Delivering on your promises to provide certain content in your emails, and
- Striking just the right tone in your email content
Out of all these considerations, the one that rises to the top is permission. This critical element determines whether your emails will be politely ignored or actively marked as spam.
When you have permission, the people on your email list anticipate your communications. But getting permission requires a few extra steps such as creating sign-up boxes on your blog and throughout your site and creating a dedicated sign-up page for your email newsletter.
The reward for your hard work in gaining permission is that your email campaigns will garner an ROI of 122 percent, according to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). Email marketing gets four times the response of any other type of digital marketing, says DMA and Demand Metric.
A few tips for getting permission to email your target audience:
- Be up front about what you’re doing. Usually you’re giving out a content offer or value piece in exchange for the prospect’s email address. In your communications, simply state that you’ll be sending them emails weekly, monthly, or even daily (depending on your marketing goals).
Result: This creates a bond of trust between you and the prospect that, when nurtured, is hard to break. The prospect will look forward to your emails. They’ll reply to them and turn into an advocate for your brand.
- Confirm your permission. No matter where you receive the contact’s email address (offline at a networking event, online from a sign-up form on your blog, or from signing up for one of your online content offers) be sure to send a confirmation email. In this confirmation email you’ll want to get the prospect to click on a link stating their interest in receiving email communications from your company.
This creates a sense of expectation and encourages your contacts to expect your communications instead of dread them. This causes your emails to stand out in an already crowded email inbox. It’s a best practice because it sets clear expectations while simultaneously cutting through the ‘noise’ that is all of the other emails your contact receives.
Result: You may think this is overkill. In some instances, it is. But, for firms that make this a best practice experience the greatest open rates and click-through rates than any other firms in their respective industries.
- Deliver solid content. The really hard work is behind you. Now it’s time to deliver on the promise/expectations you set during the initial permission gathering process. One mistake businesses make when reaching for the benefits of email marketing is they assume permission only happens at the beginning of an engagement with a contact. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, permission is an ongoing process that takes place each time you send an email. Because with each email you send the contact has the opportunity to rescind permission by unsubscribing, ignoring your email, or marking you as spam.
Note: Ignoring your email is the worst. Savvy email users simply create rules in their inboxes to put uninteresting emails in a folder that they inevitably never check. With an unsubscribe or a spam report, at least you know that you’ve somehow went wrong in your permission efforts. But with the ‘ignoring’ phenomenon, you have no idea what actually happened with your email. To remedy this situation, it’s important to just be as interesting as possible and to truly understand the needs of your contacts when it comes to the information you’re providing. Be fanatical about researching the trends that are important to your audience.
Result: The payoff for keeping up with what’s important to your audience is an interested and engaged list of contacts. You’ll have an eager group of people anticipating and engaging with your emails.
There are many metrics to measure this kind of thing but the best one is this: Are they replying to your emails? If you get a handful of replies, no matter how minor the comments may be, you know you’re on the right track. If you see these replies slack off or even stop, it’s time to re-evaluate and return to the first two steps in this list.
Those are the top three ways to get and keep permission and it’s simply the beginning. Powerful email marketing means continually evaluating and meeting the needs of your audience. Here are a few ways to make that happen:
Leverage Email Content to Turn Leads Into Customers
One of the best benefits of email marketing is knowing that once you’ve created a value piece such as a white paper, an infographic, or even something as simple as a blog, you’ll have an eager group of readers ready to consume what you’ve created.
If you do this enough times, a reader will turn into a lead, who when nurtured will turn into a customer. This scenario isn’t unusual or a Holy Grail. It’s actually a regular occurrence for firms with the focus and discipline to develop a solid email marketing strategy to anchor their overall digital marketing efforts.
Consider these options to jumpstart your email marketing efforts to convert leads into customers:
Get an even better understanding of your audience. Creating email content can be so much easier when you have a clear understanding of exactly what interests your group of readers. For many MSPs and VARs you’re targeting CIOs, IT Managers, or even Network Engineers. Whoever it is you’re ‘speaking’ to via email, just be sure you have your finger on the pulse of their needs. Great places to go to get a better understanding are:
- Online forums. (Our favorite here at Presh Marketing Solutions is Spiceworks.)
- Reddit. (A couple really cool subreddits are: r/ITManagers and r/Technology.)
- Blogs. (We often review CIO.com, SearchCIO, and TechMeme.)
Let others do some of the work for you. Content curation is a tool many firms are leveraging to remain in contact with their audience and deliver value. Content curation means you take existing information and simplify it in a way that’s tailored to the needs of your audience. We do it here at Presh Marketing Solutions. Each week we provide a wrap-up of the most interesting news articles affecting MSPs and VARs. We research hundreds of articles throughout the week and select the top five news items. Click here to sign up for your copy.
Develop one-and-done email content. Consider taking one event, news item, or point of interest and create an article about that topic. It doesn’t have to be long-form but it does have to be a topic your audience talks about on a regular basis.
Final Takeaway: Consistency in Email Marketing Equals Success
Be consistent in your email marketing efforts. Whatever you do, keep going with your email marketing. If you’re concerned that you won’t be able to keep up with the demands of creating content on a weekly or monthly basis, you’re not alone. That’s something that stops many firms from moving forward with this powerful tool in their digital marketing arsenal. Don’t let that be you. If you must, get help.
Presh Marketing Solutions offers a variety of tools and programs for MSPs and VARs to reach their ideal target market, including email marketing. Let’s have a conversation about how we can partner with you to jumpstart your digital marketing efforts.