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The Email Marketing Lifecycle: An Introduction

Email marketing is a quick, cost-effective marketing solution for businesses of all sizes.

Email returns $40.56 for every dollar spent*, so even the most modest budget can see a significant increase in conversion. Considering the low barrier of entry and high ROI, I believe that email marketing should be the first step for any small or medium business (SMB) really seeking growth.

It can be easy for an SMB to lose track of marketing efforts between manufacturing a product or delivering a service, keeping in touch with existing accounts, resolving support issues, and everything else that goes with running a business. But with a little upfront investment, and I do mean little, any SMB can implement a customized email strategy to earn first-time customers and maintain relationships with returning customers.

But an email campaign is only as effective as the strategy behind it. Email is not a tool to sell to your customers. It’s an opportunity to build a relationship that leads to a sale. What follows is a brief introduction to the email lifecycle of your potential customers:

CAVEAT: Let’s assume that your constituents have already opted-in to receive your emails by way of an online form, a transaction, or a physical capture like a signup sheet at a cash register. Email capture and list-building is both an art and a science, and we’ll cover that some other time.

  1. Welcome email – You’ve already jumped the first hurdle. Now that your constituent has agreed to receive emails from you, thank them for the interest, provide a glimpse at what’s to come, and provide them with a small incentive. A simple “thanks” and a 10% off coupon goes a long way.
  2. Newsletter – Your constituents have told you that they want information, and this is your chance. Your SMB should offer a regular newsletter with business updates, new product releases, tips and tutorials, or anything else that will help users see the value of your business.
  3. Information Requests – Every email you send, along with your website, should have an option for receiving more information. If a constituent has reached out to you and said that they would like to talk on a more direct basis, make sure that you have a designated person or team within your organization to specifically address that request. Not every customer will receive an email like this. Those that do will form a distinct perception of your customer service and product support, so make it a positive one.
  4. Transactional Emails – If a user has placed an order with you or registered for an event, provide them with a record or receipt. This system should be automated so that it is timely, accurate, and low maintenance. Also consider automating relevant follow-ups like a shipping notification and a customer satisfaction survey.
  5. Repeat – So you sold something- good for you! Now repeat the steps above to solidify a lasting relationship with your customers. Thank them for their business, stay in touch through your newsletter, and respond quickly and effectively to requests for more information.

In the coming weeks, we’ll talk more about each of these stages in the email engagement cycle, including best practices and testing strategies for optimization. Stay tuned to our blog for follow up posts, and leave a comment or shoot me an email if there’s anything specific that you’d like to talk about.

*2011 stats from the Direct Marketing Association’s The Power of Direct Marketing: ROI, Sales, Expenditures, and Employment in the US, 2011 -2012 Edition

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