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  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P


    rerouted for 2018

    Email marketing is a powerful vehicle for delivering personalized messages directly to your target

    audience. In 2018, you might think that Instagram, Snapchat or some other new platform would steal

    the spotlight, but for those of us in the marketing world, email remains king. Email continues to be the

    most important channel any business can use to continually get their name in front of past and present

    clients. In fact, it should be a primary piece of your marketing plan now and in the future.

    So, what is your marketing plan? As a business owner, you wear a lot of hats. Unless you’re turning

    away customers, one of those hats includes spending time and energy on a marketing strategy to

    grow your business.

    In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of email marketing and why it’s one of the most cost-effective, high

    return-on-investment channels to positively impact your bottom line.

  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P


    Hitting the Road. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

    7 Benefits of Email Marketing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

    SECTION ONE: Best Practices. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

    The elements of an effective email. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

    5-Step Checklist to Writing Good Content. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

    Design best practices. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

    The nitty-gritty: creating a consistent schedule and when you should send. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

    How to build an email list. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

    Why you should take advantage of email automation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

    SECTION TWO: Turns to Avoid. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

    Don’t spam. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

    Words, phrases and other things to avoid. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

    Why you shouldn’t send email “blasts”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

    SECTION THREE: The Next Leg: Building Relationships, Improving Your Bottom Line. . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

    How to build relationships using email marketing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

    How to use email to increase customer retention. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

    How to use email for referrals. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

    The Destination. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

    what’s on the route?

  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P


    hitting the road

    what is email marketing?

    In many ways, email marketing is an online form of direct marketing – a way of reaching many

    current, past, and potential customers at once. Rather than sending letters, catalogs or flyers, these

    communications are sent to inboxes.

    The primary advantage of email over direct mail is that you can track and measure your success. You can

    see how many of your emails were delivered and opened, if links were clicked and if anyone took action,

    such as buying or referring a friend.

    types of email marketing

    The format and approach you take with your email marketing could vary depending on your audience,

    industry, and goals. Here are some of the more common types of email marketing:

    product or catalog: These emails focus on specific products/services or a suite of them.

    newsletters: Sent on a consistent schedule, newsletters can cover many areas. Emails for

    OutboundEngine customers follow the newsletter format, and they contain helpful, industry-adjacent

    information. They’re meant to keep you top of mind with your customers.

    campaigns: This could include sales or time-sensitive information. Political campaigns and nonprofits

    use these often for fundraising, voting and other events, like galas or industry parties, that run for

    specific periods of time (even if those deadlines are self-created).

    nurturing: These are regular emails that are sent to prospects pre-sale. Typically sent more frequently

    than other types of emails, they encourage a prospect to take steps to eventually become your customer.

    transactional: These are usually automated and include emails that confirm purchases, provide

    reminders for renewals or ask customers to update a method of payment.



  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P


    how is email marketing valuable?

    Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective, high ROI channels you can capitalize on. Consider

    that 91 percent of US email users check their inbox at least daily. That’s approximately 294 million

    people, which shows that email has a huge potential to help your bottom line. Here are a few additional

    stats to show the real value of email marketing.

    Email ranked as the No. 1 channel for ROI out of nine marketing channels, beating out SEO, content

    marketing, paid search, and direct marketing.


    Email marketing averages an ROI of $44 for every $1 spent.


    On average, companies attribute 22 percent of their total sales to email marketing.


    89 percent of marketers say that email serves as their primary channel of lead generation


    Email is the preferred source of communication for 74 percent of consumers.



  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P


    What advantages does email offer compared to other forms of marketing? With even a small budget,

    email marketing can help you focus on your target audience, find new customers and retain them. You

    can also test messages, measure your results, and adjust as necessary -- work that is more challenging

    to do with other forms of marketing.

    reach the right audience

    The biggest advantage of email marketing may be that it allows you to communicate with your target

    audience right where they are. People are liable to ignore billboards, throw away direct mail flyers, and

    turn the page without even glancing at newspaper ads. (And does anyone do anything other than recycle

    the Yellow Pages?) These same people are more likely to pay attention to a creative and effective email

    and eventually to end up becoming customers.

    tracking the success metrics

    As a business owner, it’s helpful to know what you’re doing right and what needs to improve. By tracking

    metrics like email opens and clicks, you can make the necessary adjustments to improve your products

    and services. With email marketing software, it becomes easy to gather such data by tracking open and

    click-through rates and conversions. It’s much harder, and often impossible, to track a direct mail piece.

    word of mouth

    Word of mouth remains one the most powerfully effective marketing tools, and email marketing puts that

    tool at your disposal. Recipients can forward emails to their friends and families, especially when it’s

    worth their while and strong calls to action are used.






  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P


    a low-cost effort

    Email marketing is one of the most affordable marketing tools and also often takes less time than

    printed pieces. (No paper, no mailing time!)


    Most print marketing requires a one-size-fits-all approach. Depending on the service you use, email

    marketing may allow you to personalize all communications -- not only with name but in some cases

    with purchasing or behavior history as well (whether someone took a quiz, answered a survey, or took

    some other form of action).

    impulse shopping (and forwarding)

    Email marketing is incredibly useful for taking advantage of impulse shoppers. With a compelling call to

    action incorporated into the emails, you can encourage impulse sales and contact. It’s easy for recipients

    to respond to your message. They don’t even have to leave their couch!

    drives organic traffic

    Your emails will remind readers about your blog or website. When you send emails, your readers will go to

    your site to read more. And people who have signed up to receive your emails are more engaged with you,

    so they are more likely to “like” social posts or forward your emails. The more social shares your content

    has, the higher you will rank and more organic traffic will come your way.






  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P



    S E C T I O N O N E

    the elements of an effective email

    design best practices

    the nitty-gritty

    how to build an email list

    why you should take advantage of email automation






    In this section, we’ll talk about the practices you should follow in your

    email marketing, including:

  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P


    Making your email stand out in an inbox is both a science and an art. To motivate people to open, read

    and act on your emails, you need to master three email elements: subject lines, content, and calls to

    action (CTAs).

    subject lines

    You have maybe three to four seconds to grab someone’s attention. That’s how long it takes for them to

    decide whether or not they’ll open your email. One of the major factors in that decision is your subject

    line. Here are a few guidelines to help you write effective ones:

    Be informative and brief so your audience can easily scan their inbox.

    Convey something important, valuable or timely to prompt your audience to open the email.

    Build trust by making sure the content matches the subject line.

    When it comes to length, fifty characters is generally a good rule of thumb to follow. However, once

    you have a baseline, you can experiment on occasion.

    Other tactics that work well include asking questions, indicating a numbered list, and personalization.

    The best email subject lines tend to be specific, short and compelling. Set expectations up front and

    let the email content do the rest.

    Avoid using spam trigger words but feel free to experiment (with caution).

    bad subject line example

    AMAZING DEALS! Don’t Miss Out On This CRAZY Sale $$$!!! What Are You Waiting For? Click Now!

    good subject line example

    Huge Savings on Holiday Overstock


  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P


    As technology continues to change, so should your strategy when writing subject lines, since what works

    one year might not perform as well the next year. Some research says subject line length is important,

    while other insists it doesn’t matter. Some say you should avoid spam trigger words, but others say you

    can use them cautiously if you already have a good email reputation.

    It’s good to understand the rules. However, since there’s not always a clear consensus, occasionally

    stepping outside the lines may surprise you with a great open rate.


    If you’re not writing content that your audience cares about, you won’t get or hold their attention. Email

    content should be directly tied to the subject line and written in a short, consistent way that makes your

    message easy to digest.

    Good content should focus on your customers. Find out what problems they have and write about them.

    Learn about their habits and hobbies and pair your expertise with content that will strike a chord with

    them. Make sure what you write is serving their interests, not your own agenda. Here are a few content tips:

    Share information that’s not specifically about your business, but topically adjacent. For instance, a

    real estate agent could send emails about home improvement updates that add value to a home. A

    loan officer could share resources on preventing identity theft or maintaining good credit.

    Show restraint in your desire to sell or pitch to your email lists. Rather, showcase your expertise on

    interesting topics and brand yourself professionally.

    Maintain a regular cadence of emails. Sending six a week will overwhelm your contacts and will

    burn you out, too. Sending an email four times a year isn’t enough to stay top of mind either.

    At OutboundEngine, we send emails twice per month and find this to be the ideal schedule for

    delivering the best results for our customers.

  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P


    calls to action

    The emails you send to your customers have two goals: the first is to keep you top of mind with engaging

    content, and the second is to help you get more business. Calls to action can be as simple and clear as

    “Get a Demo,” “Sign Up” or “Schedule a Call.”

    Calls to action are how you will encourage readers to become customers. As you’re writing your content,

    always think about what you want your reader to do. Each email should have a goal. For instance, your

    email might include the first paragraph or two of a blog post you’ve written, and the CTA is a link that

    encourages people to “read the entire article” on your site. If you’re running a contest, your CTA may tell

    people to “visit my Facebook page to enter.” Whatever goal you choose, make sure your readers can take

    an action to help you achieve it.

    Keep in mind that emails are not typically about making an immediate sale, but keeping an open

    dialogue with your contacts. At OutboundEngine, our customers’ email newsletters include calls to

    action like “Refer a friend,” “Get in touch” and “Share this email” so that those who are ready to call

    upon you for your services have an easy way to do so.

    We include CTAs in an unobtrusive way by having them blend into the design. It’s important to note that

    these CTAs are not the point of each email. They’re an element that is always there so recipients always

    know how to get in touch when they’re ready.

    When creating your CTA, ask yourself:

    What do you want the email recipient to do?

    Are you making your call to action clear enough that a person quickly scanning your email will

    understand what action they’re supposed to take?

    What’s in it for them?

  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P


    define strategy

    Give your newsletters a purpose. Define your strengths and use them to your advantage.

    Make a list of things that you’re an expert in, professionally and personally.

    Ask yourself what you want your subscribers to know you for.

    build personas

    Figure out what characteristics make up your subscriber base and create content for them.

    Estimate your subscriber demographics.

    Make a list of things that get them excited (including posts or newsletters that have been successful

    in the past).

    Compile a list of your customers’ activities and hobbies.

    identify problems

    They know you for your profession; give them a reason to stay in touch with you for your expertise and


    Make a list of questions that you’re asked most often (they may or may not relate directly to your


    From those questions, make a list of answers.

    Take their problems and break up the answers into different newsletter ideas.

    Organize these ideas in a calendar so you have newsletters for the whole year.

    create solutions

    Use your expertise and your customers’ problems to create newsletters that hit the sweet spot. Be their

    go-to resource.

    Start answering those questions and problems in short email newsletters.

    Make them readable, understandable, actionable and shareable.

    assess content

    Before sending, double-check your work.

    Is the email all about you or your business? (It shouldn’t be.)

    Does it help solve a problem or entertain your customers?

    Is this what you want to be known for?







  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P


    design best practices

    Your content may be great, but if the design fails to draw the audience in or makes it too difficult for

    them to act on the call to action, no one will respond the way you want them to. Email clients have

    different requirements than web browsers, so HTML emails need to be designed and coded according

    to a variety of standards. Here are a few best practices to ensure that your campaign looks great for each

    and every one of your recipients.

    make it mobile friendly

    There are three strategies for mobile design: scalable, fluid and responsive.

    scalable design: Works well on both desktop and mobile without relying on code to make

    adjustments. This is usually the easiest strategy to implement. It includes large, touch-screen friendly

    calls to action, text that’s readable on all screen sizes and a simple layout that works on all devices

    (usually a single column).

    fluid design: Uses sizes based on percentages to make tables and images adjust to the viewer’s

    screen size. This approach works better for text-heavy emails.

    responsive design: Uses CSS media queries to adjust the size of images, text and buttons. In some

    cases, it will provide different content depending on whether the viewer is reading on desktop or mobile.

    This approach provides the most flexibility but also requires the most technical knowledge.

    include a text-only version

    Your email service provider should provide the functionality to include a separate text-only version,

    which will be automatically sent to recipients who can’t view HTML emails. Also, many email

    clients will block images, so if your text is embedded within an image, your recipients may not see the

    words without a text-only version. You can also give your recipients the option to see your email in a web

    browser in case they can’t or don’t want to view your message in their email client.

  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P


    favor a clean, simple design

    Single columns help with content hierarchy, or what the reader should look at in what order. It also

    works for viewers who may be reading on a smaller screen.

    always specify

    Font families, image sizes, table and cell sizes and colors (including background colors) all need to be


    make it effective

    When you use images, make sure to find ones that are relevant and attractive. Keep your branding front

    and center, and make sure your main point – your headline – is “above the fold,” meaning recipients

    don’t have to scroll down to see it.

    test, then test again

    Try out your email in as many email clients, browsers and operating systems as possible, including

    mobile. This means clicking links and combing for errors many times over. You can also purchase a

    subscription to a service such as Litmus that will do much of this work for you.

    put a button on it

    Buttons are a great way to highlight important information, particularly calls to action. Use vibrant colors

    to create contrast so your button and CTA stand out. One caveat: Since many email clients block images,

    if your CTA is only available embedded in an image, your recipients may not see it. Make sure your CTA

    is visible to everyone. See this free calls-to-action generator for only one possible source of buttons for

    your site.

    It’s hard to overstate how critical mobile is.

    The numbers vary, but most stats show that more than half of all emails

    are opened on a mobile device. And this percentage is only expected to

    grow. Make sure you’re ready for a mobile world since most people will read

    your messages on one of these devices.

  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P



    be consistent

    First of all, you need a consistent schedule. Evaluate your priorities and obligations to determine what

    you can reasonably commit to. The optimal frequency to contact your customers is one to four times a

    month. (OutboundEngine clients see great results with a twice-a-month schedule.)

    Essentially, you can keep increasing your send frequency as much as you want, but be conscious of

    your open and unsubscribe rates. When your engagement starts to decline, it’s time to re-evaluate your


    Whatever frequency you decide, be consistent so your customers know what to expect.

    effective send times and days

    When should I send my emails? This is one of the most frequently asked questions and one of the most

    debated. Ask ten people what the most effective send times and dates are, and you’ll get ten different

    answers. Even trusted sources have differing opinions on the topic based on their data sets.

    Yesware says early mornings before 7 a.m. or evenings after 8 p.m. are best, no matter the day of the


    Kissmetrics says early mornings and weekends, but the company points out that those days and

    times are also the most likely to get you unsubscribes and bounces.

    Experian’s benchmark study says that between 4 p.m. 8 p.m. is optimal.

    Wordstream thinks that Thursday from 8 to 9 a.m. is best.

    HubSpot says that Tuesdays at 11 a.m. ET will get the highest response.

    Needless to say, there are many right answers to this question. If you’re looking for a fairly safe bet, try

    Wednesday afternoons around 2 p.m. Keep in mind that every person, recipient and email list is unique

    depending on their personal and professional schedules. Test various days and times to find what works

    best for your audience

  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P


    how to build an email list

    Before you can market to someone using email, you have to have a list of contacts. Building an email list

    can seem challenging at first, but don’t let the task intimidate you. It gets easier and then it becomes

    second nature. Here are a few tips to get you started (or improve your current efforts).

    send to people who have opted in

    You should send emails only to people who have opted in to receive communication from you, meaning

    they’ve signed up deliberately and know what they’re agreeing to. We do not recommend buying lists or

    using lead generation services due to the CAN-SPAM Act (more on this later).

    past and prospective clients

    If you already have a contact database, great! That’s your starting point. If not, compile the emails of your

    past customers, prospects and anyone else you would regularly communicate with, like friends, family

    and professional contacts. Make sure they agree to being on your list!

    your website

    This is low-hanging fruit. Make sure you’re using high-visibility and high-traffic pages to ask people to

    opt in for your emails. Forms should be straightforward so people know what they’re signing up for.

    Limit sidebars and avoid long scrolls and text-heavy distractions to draw attention to your form.

    Experiment with calls to action to see which increase your conversion rate. Also make sure, no matter

    what form you use, that a visitor can still navigate your site easily.

  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P



    Mentioning popups and popovers is usually met with skepticism, groans and eye rolls, but hear us out!

    There are plenty of examples out there showing impressive email list growth results from popups.

    The key to popup success is that it has to be for something worthwhile for the person you just

    interrupted. While the end result might be self-serving, the means to that end need to be beneficial for

    both parties involved.

    Our favorite plugin for WordPress at the moment is OptinMonster. It’s easy to install, easy to configure,

    connects to most email tools, and can be customized to fit your needs. There are many other options if

    you chose to look around on your own.

    lists, quizzes and surveys

    Lists are hot right now! BuzzSumo did an analysis of 100 million headlines in 2017 and found lists were

    some of the most shared content. Create a list of your favorite industry specific or motivational podcasts

    and share it. You could send out a survey asking people what kind of content they’d like to see you write

    about or questions they want answered. Make sure that you’re giving your audience a genuine incentive

    just like you would with other email-gathering options. Don’t snag someone’s email address and then

    spam them with sales pitches. That’s just bad marketing.

  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P


    maximize your social media

    You may have a presence on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter (hopefully all of them). Keep in mind that

    while you might prefer one social network, that doesn’t mean all of your clients share your preferences.

    Build profiles in as many platforms as you can (but not so many that you can’t keep them current)

    and post often on the ones where your audience spends the most time. Be sure to advertise yourself

    frequently and fully by encouraging people to opt in to your email marketing campaigns, and tell them

    what they will gain by doing so.

    Add your social media accounts to your email signature and make sure your email address and website

    are prominent on all of your social media accounts. This will allow you to maximize your reach with your

    customers in as many places as possible.

    Pro-tip: Did you know you can easily export contacts from any email and most social media platforms?

    Chances are you’ve been building a contact list without even knowing it.


    Your LinkedIn connections are a goldmine of email addresses for your database. Even if you have these

    contacts in your database already, it’s always a good idea to export updated information

    in case people have changed email addresses or jobs. LinkedIn is likely to offer more relevant contacts

    than other social media networks because most of those people are connected with you professionally

    rather than personally.

    LinkedIn has made it easy to export emails into your database, too. They’ve documented the whole

    process here.

    go paperless

    Use email as your go-to correspondence. Not only is this method efficient and convenient (and eco-

    friendly!), but it also puts you in the position of collecting email addresses from the get-go.

  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P


    embrace the clipboard

    Make it a regular practice to have a clipboard (or a smartphone or tablet) at networking events, trade

    shows or in the waiting area of your office. This tried-and-true method is a great way to encourage

    people to join your mailing list. Again, be sure to let them know exactly what they stand to gain, whether

    you’re offering market tips, promotional contests, discounts or just a way to stay in touch.

    get by with a little help from your friends

    Don’t be afraid to include the people close to you in your marketing efforts, but do let them know beforehand

    exactly what you are trying to achieve. You will soon see the power of word-of-mouth. By including friends

    and family in your email marketing efforts, you are providing content for them to share when they think of

    someone who would benefit from your services or want to brag about their friend’s business.

    become an internet educator

    Don’t underestimate the power of your industry awareness. Host webinars, publish original content

    to LinkedIn, and hold seminars. This is an excellent way to put forth valuable information, build

    relationships and, you guessed it, expand your email contact list!

    use the power of the ask

    Take the time to go through your contacts. If you are missing an email address, call and get one! Let your

    clients know you’re sending out a newsletter, and explain how it will benefit them.

  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P


    When someone uses the phrase “email automation,” this generally refers to sending out relevant emails on

    a timeline of your choosing and scheduling them in advance so you don’t have to remember to hit “send.”

    Examples include welcome emails that are automatically generated and sent to anyone who signs up for

    your newsletter, a thank you email after a business transaction or a renewal reminder. Another example

    could include regular newsletters. While you may write and create these newsletters in advance,

    automation allows you to schedule and send them whenever you choose.

    Email automation builds customer relationships by combining the power of customer data, great

    content, and software. It allows you to have continued presence in your clients’ and prospects’ inboxes

    without having to do all of the work yourself (or at least being able to schedule it for a time that is more

    convenient for you).

    When you’ve set up an automated email campaign, you don’t think about when you should send the

    next email because you’ve already scheduled it, giving you more time to focus on other aspects of your



  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P


    S E C T I O N T W O

    don’t spam

    words, phrases and other things to avoid

    why you shouldn’t send email “blasts”




    Section 1 shares best practices; in other words, what you want to do with

    your email marketing. This section tells you what you don’t want to do.

  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P


    don’t spam

    Spam is junk mail – unsolicited, unwanted and often a scam. That’s why email providers work hard to

    keep those annoying emails out of your inbox and undelivered. But as any experienced email marketer

    knows, being reported as spam is both worrisome and inevitable.

    You should email people you personally know or who have opted in to receive your communications. We

    don’t recommend buying lists; there are laws in place to protect people from receiving certain types of

    unsolicited communications.

    spam reports

    A spam report is when someone reports an email that you sent to them as spam. While many think this

    just gets an email moved to the spam folder, it actually has a greater impact than that. Most major email

    services will start blocking the IP address sending those emails if they receive more than a handful of

    complaints. This has a direct impact on your email deliverability and ability to send any emails, not just

    emails to the account that reported you as spam.

    can-spam act

    This 2003 federal law outlines the rule of commercial emailing. Short for “Controlling the Assault of

    Non-Solicited Pornographic and Marketing Act,” this law sets up the requirements all email marketers

    must follow and establishes the consequences for not following the law.

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    if you’re sending emails for commercial use, you have to:

    Include an unsubscribe method.

    Actually unsubscribe someone when they request it, and do so in a timely manner.

    Include a physical address.

    While not explicitly banned, sending to people who have not opted in is discouraged.

    remember two things:

    You don’t have to be a spammer to be reported for spamming.

    If you send email newsletters long enough, it’s bound to happen eventually.

    As long as you’re staying CAN-SPAM compliant and legitimately obtaining email addresses from your

    actual customers (not purchased lists), you’ll have no trouble keeping this number low.

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    There are common characters, phrases and practices that will likely trigger spam filters and thus prevent

    you from getting into inboxes. Some estimates claim that spam filters may block 10 to 20 percent of emails

    from your subscribers’ inboxes.

    We previously mentioned in the subject lines section that you can experiment cautiously with some of

    these words. Research suggests that spam filters may be more aware of context than they have in the past.

    Be sure you measure your campaigns so you can adjust future emails if these words negatively impact your


    spam filters may be triggered if:

    An email uses all caps, extra punctuation (like ?! or !!) or special characters.

    There’s not a text-only version available.

    There is extra code, such as code pulled from Microsoft Word or codes from other tools like Google


    Your recipients have marked you as spam too often. This could work against you with future emails.

    There are too many images or one large image with little or no text. There should be a balance

    between images and text.

    your email will likely go to the spam folder if:

    The first eight characters of your email address are digits.

    To/from contains: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]

    Your email subject line contains: advertisement, $, ! or free.

    Your email body text contains: anything to do with money, like cash, free or money back.


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    A “blast” is an email that is all about that company, most (or all) of the time. In other words, a constant

    sales pitch. Most customers will tune out this message, assuming they bother to open your email at all.

    Think of email marketing as a conversation. You want to talk with your customers, not at them, and you

    want to invite feedback. Whether someone takes the time to respond to your newsletter, takes action

    on something you sent, or unsubscribes, listen to your customers’ feedback and adjust your marketing

    accordingly. An email blast is a monologue, not a conversation.


  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P


    S E C T I O N T H R E E

    how to build relationships using email marketing

    how to use email to increase customer retention

    how to use email for referrals




    Building relationships, improving your bottom line.


  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P


    There are many email marketing strategies, whether your audience is consumers or other businesses.

    At OutboundEngine, we focus on B2C, and we advocate a strategy of helping, not selling, to your


    Many of our clients work in industries with long sales cycles, like real estate, mortgage, and insurance.

    Bombarding your clients with messages about buying new homes, financing and updating their policies

    – especially if they’ve recently completed these actions with you – becomes annoying and repetitive and

    could trigger unsubscribes.

    In industries with long sales cycles, the majority of your clients aren’t likely to be in the market for

    your services at any given time, so you should use email marketing to keep in touch and help them

    until they’re ready to do business again. You build trust with them by providing helpful information. For

    instance, a real estate agent might send an email about conducting a home energy audit to save on

    utilities. A loan officer could share information on free money management websites.

    This approach keeps your name and business in front of clients in a non-obtrusive way. And when that

    person is ready to do business again or their friend is asking for a referral, your name is top of mind.

    here are a few tips for nurturing relationships with email:

    personalization: With email marketing, personalization is extremely helpful. This can include

    personalized salutations or noted client information within the body. Also, make sure the message

    applies to the client’s situation. For instance, don’t send a renewal notice to a customer who just


    communicate with them, not at them: Just because you’re sending an email to a large audience,

    it doesn’t mean you can’t write it like you’re talking to a single person. Use a conversational tone in your

    writing. Customers want to feel like you’re talking with them instead of pitching to them.


  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P


    be welcoming: You wouldn’t simply walk up to someone and ask them for business without so much

    as a hello. Make your emails inviting. If you treat your customers like they’re just another name on an

    email list, then the emails you send will be received as such. This has a lot to do with the content that

    you’re sending. If all you have to say to your email list involves you or your business, you’re not inviting

    customers to have a conversation with you.

    keep it brief: Why send a lengthy newsletter when a few paragraphs and sentences will do? There will

    be some emails that are longer than others, but make sure the length is appropriate to the message. If

    they’re longer, make it easy for readers to find what they want and get to the point.

    provide value: When someone signs up to get your emails, they want you to communicate something

    of value. Make the email worth their time. You already know your customers, and you probably know their

    interests and needs. Your emails should reflect this rather than being simply self-promotional.

    be consistent, not annoying: Finding the right cadence for your emails is definitely important. You

    want to keep your brand in front of your audience. Just don’t overdo it.

    The whole idea behind building relationships through email is that the payoff doesn’t have to be right

    then and there. Just sending an email doesn’t necessarily result in instant business. And that’s fine!

    These effective communication practices help you build these relationships over time, increasing loyalty

    and nurturing prospects to become even more valuable over time. More importantly, they’ll become

    voluntary marketers, singing your praises and recommending you to others.

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    Your clients are your most valuable assets, but many business owners do a poor job of customer

    retention, specifically through email marketing. They rely too much on the phone to ring or focus on one

    event or strategy (like a holiday card) to keep those relationships alive. That’s where email marketing can


    here are three ways that email marketing can help customer retention in your business:

    keeping you top of mind: Regular emails are key to maintaining your name and brand recognition

    with clients. The next time a customer is looking to do business, you don’t want them struggling to

    remember your name or trying to remember where they put your card.

    maintaining a conversation with customers, year round: Email marketing that’s timely and

    relevant to seasonal trends can act as a friendly reminder. Maybe it’s summer and you can create a

    checklist for planning a road trip or put together a quick guide on the best wine bars in your area. As

    long as it’s helpful and not about you, you’re good to go! Either way, the more you can converse with your

    client base instead of marketing to them, the more they’re going to appreciate hearing from you.

    put a friendly face on your business: Whether you’re a loan officer, realtor, or insurance agent,

    it may be some time before your client needs to contact you again. In the meantime, doesn’t it make

    sense to be a professional, trusted resource to your clients? Think of it as a way to make your customers

    continually happy to have done business with you.


  • E M A I L M A R K E T I N G R O A D M A P


    Email marketing is often underused for referrals. While you might be spending marketing dollars buying

    new lead lists, sending out direct mail pieces, or even handing out branded products at local events,

    you’re also sitting on a treasure trove of referral gold: your existing customers.

    Email is a direct line of communication to your existing customers and potential prospects. Not everyone

    is looking to buy from you right this instant, but when they are, whoever is top of mind is most likely

    going to get a phone call. That’s why email is so powerful. Stay in front of the people who will send you

    referrals in a good way (not through annoying spam) and they’ll help your business grow.

    We also advocate the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of the time, you provide helpful information to build trust.

    With the other 20 percent, you can ask for referrals or another action that benefits you. For instance...


    Don’t abuse this option, but definitely reward customers who send you referrals. You could offer

    something small like a $20 gift card for every referral sent your way. Or you could be more practical

    about it financially and make it into a contest. Buy something everyone wants, like an Apple Watch or

    a $500 Amazon gift card. Run a referral email contest one to four times a year; every referral someone

    sends you earns them an entry into the drawing.


  • Email marketing is an extremely useful, efficient and low-cost tool to help you promote

    your business. By helping and not selling to your customers, you become a trusted

    resource. Eventually, you can call on this trust to occasionally ask for something that

    helps your business, like referrals. You will also maintain brand awareness and likely

    increase customer retention.

    Just remember to measure your efforts. Without metrics, you won’t be able to learn

    what’s working and what you need to tweak to improve.

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