The Art of Email Marketing

If you didn’t get a chance to see the email marketing video in our Facebook group, Haute Hub for Brick and Mortar retailers, you’re kinda missing out. Don’t worry – it’s on the hub for you to view at your leisure. There’s a lot of great, easily actionable items for you to do in order to scale-up your marketing efforts! And conveniently enough, my special guest, Yasmin Yamat, broke them down into 3 simple sections.

If you don’t already know Yasmin, she is a marketing consultant I’ve been working with for years. She’s worked for companies like Lines Ballet, Stella Artois, and Sunset Magazine. We’ve gone through the steps in these sections many times, and it never feels like a chore. Talking about audiences, colors, themes, personas have always been invigorating! So let me give you a snapshot of what’s on the video.

Yasmin talked about 1) looking inward to assess yourself and your business, 2) looking outward to assess services available to you, and then 3) how to bring them together. Breaking email marketing down into these three sections will help make the process more manageable.

The self-assessment part should happen periodically. People change – including you and your business, which is part of this self-assessment – so you should write down (yes – physically list it out!) what your customer is like in detail. Her lifestyle, family life, job, age range, aspirations, things she worries about, bloggers she follows. You get the idea. Your staff will have input as they’re talking to customers, as well. Continually talking and getting to know your customers is something big companies can’t do at the same level as a brick and mortar boutique because you are much more agile. Next, write down what you like about emails you receive and the brands that send them. What is it that gets you to a) open the email and b) do the call to action (read more, go to website, purchase). If you take advantage of the opportunities and assets you have by doing this exercise periodically, you won’t be left scrambling when the economy, technology, or tastes change. A main factor of the lesson here is not only to do the assessment, but to write it down. Yasmin made a compelling argument as to why in the video, but for this summary, be like Nike and Just Do It!

In the second part – assessing services – Yasmin graciously put pen to paper and created a list of things to consider when you’re thinking about hiring a marketing consultant. You can find that list posted in the hub, as well. The reason this is step two is because you must know yourself and your brand (via self-assessment) if you hope to build an effective relationship with the right consultant. You will have to know your own “voice”/brand identity in order to convey it not only to the consultant, but also to your customers. The companies with a firm grasp on their brand identity don’t need to worry about off-brand messages accidentally slipping out. In addition, companies with a firm grasp on their core customer are more easily able to pinpoint opportunities for customer growth… a strategy for which you may want to task your consultant.

When it comes to the actual assessment of a consultant, there are more standard issues to nail down such as the consultant’s availability, preferred contact style, industry knowledge, software skills, and pricing. Then, there are more difficult assessments to be made. For example, getting to know their aesthetic style (and if it will complement yours), their ability to bring ideas to the table, or their audience communication style. Will they convey and represent your brand well? It’s a lot of food for thought, but if you are as detailed as possible in section one, this part should move more easily.

Yasmin’s key message in this section however (and I whole-heartedly agree), was that whether or not you hire help, you MUST do email marketing yourself first and know your way around creating an email. You can do it just for a month or two until you feel comfortable with it and see how doing so affects your schedule. Maybe it’ll help you decide if you need a consultant or not. No one knows your business, goals, and audience better than you and you are your own ultimate backup. Trust me, there is nothing more comforting as knowing that you can take care of your business even if all help falls through. If someone is sick or on vacation, your email must still be created and delivered! Knowing as much as you do about your business, no one can choose the right service like you, either. We touched on Constant Contact vs. MailChimp, but the advice applies to any service you choose.

Speaking of software – you may be wondering if you should choose Constant Contact, MailChimp, or any one of many other email services. While we’ve used these two and other services, in this article we’re not recommending any one company (and there are more than just these two) because everyone’s schedules, budgets, aesthetics, tech savviness, and staffing are different. It would be impossible for us to pick one. However, Yasmin was wise to recommend taking advantage of the free introductory periods that many of these services offer to see which is the right fit for your business. You’ll be better able to assess their features as well as become comfortable with the process – all at the same time! That said, you do want to make sure that it’s easy enough for you to upload and manage your email lists and images, that the budget works for the number of emails you plan to send, and that customer service is as accessible as you expect.

Finally, putting parts one and two together requires a mix of logistics and creativity. Thinking through topics to write about, a calendar of when to send emails, and how much to write is all easier and more thorough when done with your team. They’ll be the ones helping you gather information about your customers and trends. They’ll be the ones helping you translate this information into content ideas for your emails. They are valuable resources so don’t think you have to do it alone.

Think about having a brainstorming session where you come up with at least 50 topic ideas for your emails. From that list pick the top 20-25. If you plan to send two emails a month you now have a year’s worth of content ideas! Plus you’ll be emailing about events you’re having or taking part in.

Luckily, a majority of Yasmin’s 3 steps are people oriented and demand creativity. That’s the fun part. As you know, I love technology and learning new things that will help elevate my business, so poking around new email services is fun for me. Be the trailblazing, risk-taking entrepreneur that you are and play with these services and find the right fit for your business.

If you found this post informative, comment below with your top three take-aways and let us know what steps you’ll be taking to up level your email game.