Opt-In Email Marketing is a Low-Cost Secret Weapon - Here are our Top 7 Tips

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By Hector Cisneros

Email is one of the oldest marketing venues on the internet today. Because of the worldwide spam problem, many businesses don’t engage in email marketing. This is a terrible shame. Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective marketing venues available. The statistics show that for those who use it, it is effective in both B2C and B2B marketing venues. It is one of the best lead generation weapons, it is highly scalable, it is extremely cost-effective, and its return on investment is hard to beat.  So why don’t more small businesses take advantage of email marketing? In this episode of Working the Web to Win, we will explore email marketing from several angles, provide the reader with a wealth of email marketing information and detail our top seven email marketing tips to make sure that our readers get an edge using our secret weapons. So, sharpen your pencils and get ready to decode our secrets as we explore Opt-In Email Marketing as a low-cost Secret Weapon.  


Email marketing isn’t new; in fact, it is one of the oldest marketing venues on the web. In 2017, there were 3.7 billion email users. On top of that, 269 billion emails are sent and received each day! Email is often considered the third most influential of marketing mediums and is most often used to generate leads. If you don’t know much about email marketing, read our article called; Email Marketing in the 21st Century. It has a great section called “email 101”, which explains what email marketing is all about. In our articles 21 Century Email - What's New, What Works, What's Scary and  How to Stop Sir Spamalot, they provide useful information to demystify Spamming, its laws and how to avoid getting spammed. Our article called Going Postal - With Touch Marketing provides a wealth of information on various ways to engage in touch marketing including email blast and newsletters. And our article called, A Movie in Every Mailbox talks about how you can use video as part of your email messaging.

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Prerequisites – The first thing I want to explain about email marketing is that you need to start by understanding your target market, the benefits of your company, product or service and you need to be able to express these items in detail and as a marketing message. You also need to understand the laws that govern email marketing (there are several) so read the above-listed articles for those details. Once this is done, you need to select an email marketing platform that matches your needs and budget. You will also have to set up your opt-in capture forms for your websites, blogs, and social nets. Lastly, you will have to build a list of subscribers, whether you buy a list or build one from scratch. If you're buying a list, always buy recently created and double opt-in targeted lists. A good list is worth its weight in gold. Always see if you can get some guarantees on any list you buy. All these issues are explained in our articles listed above. Now on to our top 7 email Marketing tips.

Our Top 7 Tips to Ensure Email Marketing Success

Tip #1. Provide High-Quality Content – not just a sales pitch. A lot has been written about email marketing. However, one of the most often ignored qualities of great email marketing is the concept of “AHQRTUI.” AKA, content that is, Authoritative, High Quality, Relevant, Timely, Useful and Infotainment. Providing Useful High-Quality content in your email blast and newsletters increase the chances that your emails will be read, shared and acted on. Emailing out poor-quality content, sales pitches or boring information is the equivalent of spamming your opt-in mailing list.  Have respect for your clients and prospects. Give them your best and useful information, and they are more likely to reward you with sales, testimonials and high ratings.

Tip #2. Make Every Email Piece Personalized – With the right email marketing platform, you can personalize your email marketing pieces, so they address the recipient with their listed selected title and name along with other relevant distinctions. If they are primarily interested in category A, (verse B, C, & D), you can customize your email so that it produces very personalized content addressing their title, name, and interest. Example Hi Dr. Smith, we are glad you're interested in the latest surgical products that we manufacture.  Of course, you also must buy or capture this information when you create your database of subscribers, but with a little planning, it’s a snap. On top of that, it makes mediocre email marketing into a powerful sales weapon that produces results and loyal followers.
Tip #3. Provide a Strong Compelling Headline – Any email piece worth its salt must have a compelling headline. If the headline doesn’t grab them – they simply won’t read your email! It will be trashed, or worse – marked as spam! Along these same lines, your first couple of sentences need to peek their interest compelling them to read on. Make sure you highlight a few of the attention-grabbing key phrases, especially if you're using BOGO specials or other loss leader hooks.

Tip #4. Use the “3PI & 1PS Method” to Keep them Happy - Your message should be 3 Parts Infotainment to 1 Part soft sell. Always provide useful information in a ratio of three parts high quality (i.e., AHQRTUI) content to one-part sales special. You can talk about coupons and special offers but make sure it’s a soft pitch with an emphasis on the benefits. You can also have sidebars and coupon panels outside of story content in your email pieces.

Tip #5. A/B Test your Messages – A/B testing a message is a great way to increase your return on investment. I always recommend engaging in a small-scale test of any message you plan on sending out. What’s a small email test? I recommend sending your test messages to the same 500 subscribers over a 30-day period (if their opt-in account allows for frequent emails). A good A/B test will allow you to hone your marketing message so that over time it will increase your email open rate, read rate and move to action rate by as much as 400 percent. It's also not a bad idea to test your message on different email groups as well. Testing provides useful information. It’s a shame that most small businesses don’t engage in A/B testing, it would save them money and produce more income over time.

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Tip #6. Make Sure it is Easy for them to Opt-out – Early on in this article, I mentioned that you need to use Opt-In email lists only. You also must make it easy for a person to opt-out as well. Trying to hold a person captive will not only make them angry, it’s against the law! Make sure you read our article called Email Marketing in the 21st Century, which explains the laws in some details. The fines can be tremendous.

Tip #7. Always Give Them a Reason to Stay – If you're providing regular email blasts or e-newsletters, you have to provide your subscribers more than one reason to let you invade their privacy. Along with providing High Quality (i.e., AHQRTUI) content, you should also provide fun items and give subscribers an incentive to stay. For example, you could include links to fun online games where your subscribers could win prizes. You could provide prizes for people who “identify special elements” (Easter eggs) that are hidden in your email blast. You can award points for the number of opened emails they have participated in and much more. We have used scratch-off, wheel of fortune and loyalty programs in conjunction with email campaigns which not only reduce unsubscribes, it increases open and participation rates.

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Bonus – I always like to include a Bonus item in my articles whenever possible. My bonus for email marketing is that you can increase your open and return on investment rate substantially by adding one simple step. That is, “Follow up - Follow up - Follow up.” What I mean by following up is – calling all the recipients by phone, adding them to a separate email drip marketing campaign or even adding them to a different media campaign like text and social media marketing. A simple follow up on an email blast to 1,000 subscribers with only a 3 percent open rate could boost the open rate to 20% and increase your ROI by as much as 500 percent, depending on your product or service. Follow up and Follow through can turn a mediocre email campaign into a good one and it can turn a good campaign into a great one.

Email marketing is one of the oldest and most productive marketing venues available on the internet. It has many advantages like low cost, it can be quickly created and can produce quick responses and high returns on investment. It also has some strict laws that must be followed if you plan to successfully use this medium for any length of time. The seven tips listed above, and the five articles provided earlier can help catapult any would be email marketer to stardom. Email marketing is a cost-effective and easy means to market your business, product or service. Getting the formula right is not so simple. In fact, it takes time and money to build or buy the subscriber list, get the hang of producing quality email pieces, effectively targeting your audience and then measuring the results. If you take the time to learn these tips, email marketing can be your new secret weapon. If you don’t have time, but do have a marketing budget, this item can be effectively outsourced. At Working the Web to Win, we have been helping clients with their email and touch marketing since we began in 2011. If you’re not using email marketing as part of your arsenal, you’re not out of luck. This is one of those often-forgotten secret weapons that any business can buy without breaking the bank.

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This article provides detailed information on how to engage in email marketing. Where other articles focus on vague tips, this article provides explicit tips that help convert email readers into leads and closed deals. This article also provides many additional links to other comprehensive related articles, including a link to the BlogTalkRadio show notes page.

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 Hector Cisneros is COO and Director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on BlogTalkRadio.com, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”

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