Email marketing works for organizations – large and small – across practically every industry out there. As the director of account management here at iContact, I see a huge variety of clients. Some are frequent senders that send multiple times per day while others send once or twice per month, and sometimes less. Sending Frequency most often depends on the nature of our clients’ business models and the engagement of their lists.
There is one type of client, however, that I have noticed struggling with email marketing: the “new to email marketing” client.
Let’s pretend that Billy Bob’s Super Toupee Store just signed up with iContact. The proprietor, Billy Bob himself, has built up the business from humble beginnings and has become a successful, growing company. He’s decided that it is time to get into the email marketing game. His clients have asked him for updates on the newest trends, hot products and the latest toupee industry news. As a recipient of several email newsletters himself, Billy Bob recognizes how powerful email marketing can be.
Now Billy Bob is a stickler. He’s built up a good business by paying attention to details and carefully crafting his branding, messaging and visuals. Of course, that carries over to his new email marketing efforts. Billy Bob wants the “perfect” template. He wants the “perfect” headline. He wants the “perfect” text. And he won’t send until everything is, well, “perfect”. Therein lies the mistake.
There is no such thing as a perfect email – never has been, never will be. What Billy Bob needs to do is start sending. Imperfect headlines, imperfect text and imperfect layout are all acceptable. What’s more important is that Billy Bob gets into the rhythm of sending. He needs to set a schedule, say one or two emails per month, and start sending. All of those imperfections are simply stepping stones to getting it right. Once his recipients start to open and click on his messages (or maybe they’re not opening and clicking), he will quickly learn what works and what doesn’t. Then he can adjust.
The beauty of email marketing is that you can get concrete feedback about how a message performed. Open rates and click rates give you instantaneous information. Reviewing what did and did not get clicked gives you even more granular information. You can start looking for trends such as best subject lines, best calls to action, what types of images perform best, which days of the week to send, and so much more.
None of the above is possible if you’re holding out for the perfect template. A perfect draft email that is never sent is worthless. A terrible performing email is golden; it gives you solid information that you can act on to improve. Once you get into a sending rhythm, you’ll have actionable data to use as the basis for constant, incremental improvement.
Billy Bob is his own worst enemy when it comes to email marketing. By not sending, he’s not only missing the opportunity to learn what does and does not work, but his list is also getting stale. Most importantly, he’s missing out on selling more toupees. Don’t be a Billy Bob. Get into a sending rhythm!