7 Ways to Tell If Your Email Marketing Plan Measures Up

by Gabe Arnold

Have you started your email marketing campaign? If you haven’t, then it’s time to get started! Here are 7 ways to tell if your email marketing plan is on the right track.

1. You’re Using Mailchimp

I’ve personally researched and tested about two dozen different email marketing providers ranging from free to $300 a month. I can tell you from personal experience that Mailchimp is hands down the best email marketing provider available for the small to mid-size business. They continue to improve their features and it’s very easy to use overall. Mailchimp offers:

  • Marketing automation (autoresponders)
  • Premade templates
  • Easy mobile reporting and composition tools
  • Incredible training and resources
  • Free starter plans

While some of the older providers in the industry like Constant Contact still have good market share and stronger branding, I can’t recommend them. If you’re not using Mailchimp then it’s time to switch!

2. You Have a Content Creation Plan

When it comes to creating content, you need a plan. You can’t just rely on your whims each week. You need to have a method that helps you create content consistently. Here are a few options.

Write a Content Map: Follow these steps and you’ll have topics for your email marketing plan in hand right away.

  1. Go to Google Trends Top Charts here
  2. Find a category that matches your business, for example “business people
  3. Choose a business person you can relate your topic too, I chose Steve Jobs a while back
  4. Write a post title with a catchy headline, like “10 Things Your Small Business Can Learn From Steve Jobs
  5. Now repeat these steps until you have eight article titles

Write Your Posts: Set aside one hour a day for the next two weeks and write for an hour. Make sure you finish a post in an hour. Be sure that you follow these two important steps after you write your posts:

  • Read the post in its entirety out loud to yourself
  • Send the post to a co-worker, assistant, or willing friend to read over as well

This will help you catch any basic mistakes and improve the quality of your writing. Everything I write follows these two quality guidelines and it helps improve the quality of the posts you get to read! Remember to focus on solving problems with what you write. Here are some example headlines to help you focus on that:

  • 5 Simple Steps to [insert your topic here]
  • How I Learned to [insert your topic here] In Half the Time It Should Take
  • Why Your Business Needs [insert your topic here] Today
  • [insert your topic here] Could Be the Next Pinterest
  • 7 Crazy Ideas that Could Change Your [insert your topic here]

Are you seeing a pattern? Give people how, why, and simple list posts that help them apply your industry knowledge to their businesses and lives. After you have this strategy together the most important thing to do is stick with it! Writing requires discipline, so practice your writing and don’t give up. Over time you’ll get better at it and you’ll expand your reach. So stick with it!

3. You Review Your Analytics

As you begin to send out campaigns, start to review the reports that Mailchimp provides. You’ll get to see how many people open the email, how many people clicked, and if you have Google Analytics properly installed, you’ll see the traffic landing on your website. I’ve learned over time that at the seven day mark my email stats are fairly accurate. While some people do open the email after the seven day point, it’s a very low percentage. So check your campaign reports the next day, in three days, and then at the week mark. This will give you an idea of how your audience is engaging in the email.

Tips to Keep You Moving:

  1. When open rates are low it means your subject line needs improvement
  2. When open rates are acceptable, but click rates are low, it means your call to action needs work
  3. When bounce rates or spam complaints are high it means you need to clean up your email list building approach
  4. When you have a few unsubscribes each campaign that’s ok! A healthy email list gets a few unsubscribes every time

Keep these tips in mind and evaluate your statistics every week. Keep a close eye on what’s working and what’s not. Trends change and you need to develop a pulse for what your audience wants to hear.

4. You Send Enough Email

One of the most frequent questions I get about email marketing is “how often can I email my list?” and people are often shocked by my response. If you’re on my list you may notice that I email three times a week. You may not notice that either though. Maybe only one or two of the emails catch your eye. Maybe the others get missed. That’s actually ok. Let me tell you more about my strategy and why it works. Years ago I had the pleasure of meeting with an internal marketer from Bank of America who had handled all their email marketing efforts. With over a billion emails in the test Bank of America found that emailing their list once a week or up to five times a week didn’t drastically affect the unsubscribe rate. I remember thinking about this and really being surprised. From that day forward I have made the choice to email aggressively to those people who have opted into my list. I know that my competitors are emailing all the time and I also know that my readers only see or have time to read a few of the emails. That means I need to provide high value content as frequently as possible. That increases the impact of my email marketing, and the same will hold true for you.

What Should You Do?

Remember the content map we covered above? I told you to create eight articles because this will get your first two months of email marketing underway. Once you get that knocked out you can repeat the process and build up your content library. Aim for emailing your list three times a week when you are really up and running smoothly, but follow this process to get started:

  • In the first month you should email your list twice
  • In the second month you should email your list four times
  • In the third month you should email your list eight times
  • In the fourth month you should email your list twelve times

You should ramp up your email marketing in this manner because this will help your audience get used to your frequent content. If you went straight to emailing three times a week you may lose more subscribers than necessary. You also need time to build up high quality content. Remember, if you’re not providing really useful information then there is no point in email marketing at all. Always focus on quality first and quantity second.

5. You Fill In the Content Gaps

When you really get your email marketing cranking you will find that it generates more business and activity for you. That’s a good thing! That also creates challenges for you. You can’t allow your marketing to fall flat because you don’t have the time to write enough content yourself. One way to solve the content creation problem is to have your team help you write as well. Just help them come up with topics using the content map approach. Then make sure you receive their articles on time. Splitting up the workload will help you stay focused on your overall plan. You can also sign up for the service we created just for this purpose. Copywriter Today takes all the time consuming and hard work out of content creation and helps you market consistently to your list. All you have to do is give us the title or the topic of your article and we’ll do the rest. When it comes down to it, hiring a high quality service will end up being the most cost effective and efficient in the long run. While I still write over 50% of the posts here on this blog, I use my own service to write our posts too and the quality is just as good as when I write things myself. I’ve learned that being noisy is really important, so when I am busy or light on my own content Copywriter Today provides me with some outstanding posts that really drive traffic to my sites. Give it a try today and see what you think!

6. You Make Sure Your Email Newsletters are Multi-Purpose

While for some of you marketing pros out there this may seem like a no brainer, I remember when I was first getting started. I didn’t realize that I could write an email marketing article and use that same post on my blog or website. When you’re looking to build traffic and improve your local seo you need to provide high value content to your readers in all areas. When You Write an Article Consider Using It For:

  • Your blog posts
  • A direct mail (printed) piece
  • A handout at the counter (if you run a retail location)
  • Take pieces of the post and share them on your social media profiles and link back to the original post
  • Print it off and include it in any product shipments that you send out

Those are just a few of the ways you can multi-purpose your content. The point is that you need to take that time and money you’ve invested into the article creation and get multiple returns on investment. Don’t waste it on just one location or use!

7. You Build Your List Consistently

In order for you to build up a valuable email marketing list you need to build it all the time! Here are a few ways that you can build your list:

  1. Have customers opt in when they place their first order with you
  2. Have a signup form in your website’s sidebar
  3. Have a signup form after the blog post (just like I do on my site)
  4. Post your email marketing sign up form link on your social media profiles a few times a week
  5. Offer a free report or tool that would help your audience and ask for them to subscribe in order to receive it
  6. Ask your subscribers to share your email and ask their friends to subscribe

Those are just a few of the ideas that we’ve used effectively. There are a lot of great ways to build your list and the important thing is that you focus on it consistently. Always look for new ways to build your list and always make sure people opt in properly! You don’t want to buy lists or trick people into subscribing in most cases. The cleaner your subscription process is, the better your list will be. When you have a high quality list you can make a lot of money from it and really grow your business.

Wrap Up

What do you think? Did I cover everything that you need to plan and execute your email marketing plan effectively? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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