As a long-time business development professional, email marketing has been a useful tool to help me generate thousands of leads and hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.  There are several ways a business owner can utilize email as an effective way to gather data from their clients and provide information to them regularly.  Let’s take a few minutes to explore the basics to email marketing.
One of the first things you should be doing as a business owner is gathering data from your prospects and current clients.  This includes their email address, full name and phone number at a minimum.  You can start gathering this data in multiple ways: provide an opt- in form on your website, have paper slips at the register or have your employees ask for it when interacting with customers.
Once you have your process to gather the data, a good Customer Relationship Management Tool (CRM) is recommended to maintain it. While using Excel is a decent starting point, a good CRM will not only allow you to store their contact information, but it will allow you to keep up with customer interests, communication, opportunities, proposals, closed business and more.
Now that you have your contacts’ information stored in one place, you might need to segment your database.  As an example, a REALTOR, might want to keep customers (people they have closed business with) and prospects separate.  By segmenting your database, you can customize the messages to have more impact on the reader.
A key factor to any marketing plan is to have a good strategy.  How often do you plan to “touch” your readers?  For some businesses, once a week can be too often and for a retailer, not enough.  What content do you plan to send to your readers?  Depending on your business, it might be product related or it could be a newsletter providing value.  Regardless of what you decide to do, having an effective strategy is important or you can turn people off and lose your marketing list overnight.
So, you have your contact lists ready, they are in your CRM and you have a strategy in place, great!  Now you are ready to deliver your content.  You will need a good emailer tool to design your templates, keep you SPAM compliant, and to provide you with analytics.  We recommend email marketing systems like AWeber, Mail Chimp, or more advanced systems like InfusionSoft.
As you design your emails, you will want to provide hyperlinks that provide the reader with more information on the topic of interest.  For example, you can drive them to pages on your website, pull up a PDF marketing piece, drive them to your blog or your social media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.).  When people click on one of these links, your emailer tool will provide you with analytics.  How you use these analytics is crucial to your success!
As your prospect, if I take the time to click on a link, I am telling you, the business owner, that I want more information on that subject.  You can call me a day later to “touch base” and bring up that subject when you call, you can send me a follow up email with more information or maybe you decide to connect with me through social media.  This is also where your CRM comes into play.  If I am interested in something, make a note in your CRM.  Next time you reach out to me, check the CRM FIRST!  If you bring up my points of interest, you are more likely to reach me and do business with me.  Regardless of what follow up you decide to do, just make sure to re-connect!
I hope this information has been helpful to you.  Don’t forget to share the love!