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  • R O A D M A PR O A D M A P

  • Introduction As a business owner, youre pulled in multiple directions every day. Youre

    planning budgets, setting business goals and keeping your customers

    satisfied. Theres constantly changing technology to keep up with. And

    (unless youre turning away customers) youre also spending time and

    energy on growing and evolving your business.

    Marketing is one of the many ways to keep your name in front of past and

    prospective clients, and the truth is almost all of us could do more on

    this front. Typical ways to market your services include email, web (SEO),

    ads (online, print, yellow pages), social media, direct mail and specialty

    advertising like calendars, magnets, etc. But which is the best for you?

    In this guide, well talk about email marketing and why it is one of the

    most cost-effective, high return-on-investment channels you can

    capitalize on. Email marketing is still the top method for sharing content

    online and has the largest potential 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

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

    Table of Contents Getting Started ............................................................................................................................................................ 4

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

    SECTION I: 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 II: WHAT TO AVOID ............................................................................................................................... 21

    Dont spam ......................................................................................................................................................... 22

    Words, phrases and other things to avoid ................................................................................................... 23

    Why you shouldnt send email blasts ........................................................................................................ 25

    SECTION III: MEASUREMENT ................................................................................................................................ 26

    Email deliverability ............................................................................................................................................. 27

    Inbox rates ........................................................................................................................................................... 28

    Bounce rates ...................................................................................................................................................... 29

    Unsubscribes ..................................................................................................................................................... 30

    Open rates ........................................................................................................................................................... 31

    Click-through rate ............................................................................................................................................ 32

    Spam reports ..................................................................................................................................................... 32

    Hacks to Increase Open Rates ........................................................................................................................ 33


    How to build relationships using email marketing .................................................................................... 38

    How to use email to increase customer retention .................................................................................... 40

    How to use email for referrals ........................................................................................................................ 41

    CONCLUSION .......................................................................................................................................................... 42

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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

    Getting Started 1 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 listings to homes, 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, opened, if links were clicked and if anyone took

    action (such as buying, referring a friend, etc.).

    2 Types of email marketing

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

    your industry and your goals. Here are some of the 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 our

    customers follow the newsletter format, and they contain industry-adjacent, helpful information. They

    are 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: 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.

    DAY-TO-DAY DETAILS/TRANSACTIONAL: These are usually automated and include emails that

    confirm purchases, provide reminders for renewals or remind customers to update a method of

    payment. May also include regular thanks or appreciation for business transactions.

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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

    3 How is email marketing valuable?

    Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective, high return-on-investment channels you can

    capitalize on. Consider the fact that 91 percent of global email users (2.4 billion people) check their

    inbox at least daily. Email has a huge potential to help your bottom line. Here are just a few stats to

    show the value of email marketing.

    According to Econsultancys 2014 Email Industry Marketing Census, email was ranked as the number

    1 channel for ROI, over SEO, content marketing, paid search, direct marketing and a total of eight

    other channels.

    On average, companies attribute 23% of their total sales to email marketing.

    For every $1 spent, $44.25 is the average return on email marketing investment.

    EmailExpert [Infographic] 10 Must Know Email Marketing Stats 2014 (2014)

    Email marketing has an ROI of 4,300%.

    60% of marketers agree email marketing is producing ROI for their organization. 32% believe it will

    eventually produce ROI.

    MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Benchmark Survey (2013)

    54% of organizations generate 20% or more of overall revenue through email marketing.

    DMA National Client Email Report (2013)

    64% of decision-makers read their email via mobile devices.

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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

    7 B E N E F I T S O F E M A I L M A R K E T I N G

    What advantages does email marketing offer compared to other forms of marketing? With just 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 something that is more challenging to do with other forms of marketing.

    1 Reach the Right Audience

    The biggest advantage of email marketing may be that it allows you to communicate with your target audience right in their homes. People are liable to ignore billboards, throw away print direct mail and turn the page without even glancing at newspaper ads (and does anyone do anything other than recycle Yellow Pages?). These same people are more likely to pay attention to an innovative, creative and effective email and eventually to end up becoming customers.

    2 Tracking the Success Metrics

    As a business owner, its helpful to know what youre doing right and what youre doing wrong. By tracking metrics, 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. Its much harder, and often impossible, to track a direct mail piece.

    3 Word of Mouth

    Word of mouth remains one the most powerfully effective marketing tools. Email marketing puts that tool at your disposal. Recipients can forward emails to their friends and families, especially when its worth their while and strong calls to action are used.

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    4 A Low-Cost Effort

    Email marketing is one of the most affordable marketing tools and also often takes less time than printed pieces (no mailing time!).

    5 Personalization

    Most print marketing requires a one-size-fits-all approach. Email marketing (depending on the service you use) 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).

    6 Impulse Shopping (and Forwarding)

    Email marketing is incredibly useful for taking advantage of impulse shopping. With a compelling call to action incorporated into the emails, you can encourage impulse sales and contact its easy for recipients to respond to your message. They dont even have to leave their couch!

    7 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 the more organic traffic youll receive.

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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

    I N T H I S S E C T I O N , W E L L T A L K A B O U T T H E P R A C T I C E S Y O U S H O U L D

    F O L L O W I N Y O U R E M A I L M A R K E T I N G I N C L U D I N G :

    1 The elements of an effective email

    2 Design best practices

    3 The nitty-gritty

    4 How to build an email list

    5 Why you should take advantage of email automation

    S E C T I O N I

    Best Practices S E C T I O N I

    Best Practices

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    1 The elements of an effective email

    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 these email elements: subject lines, content and calls to action (CTAs).

    S U B J E C T L I N E S

    You have three-four seconds to grab someones attention. Thats how long it takes for them to decide

    whether or not theyll 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. Make sure to convey

    something important, valuable or timely.

    Create intrigue to prompt your audience to open the email.

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

    Fifty characters is generally a good, safe rule of thumb to follow. However, people have seen great

    success with subject lines over 70 characters and less than 49, so once you have been sending

    emails for long enough to have a baseline, experiment on occasion.

    Other tactics that work well in subject lines 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).

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    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 some insists it doesnt 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.

    Its good to understand the rules. However, since theres no clear consensus, testing something out of

    the norm on occasion might surprise you with a great open rate.

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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

    C O N T E N T

    If youre not writing something that your audience cares about, you wont get their attention. Email

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

    your message quickly readable and easily digested.

    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 that what you write is serving their interests, not your own agenda. Here are a

    few content tips:

    Be relevant and share information that is not directly about you or your business, but topically

    adjacent. For instance, a real estate agent could send emails about updates that add value to a

    home. A loan officer could share good resources for how to prevent identity theft to maintain

    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 is a bad approach and will burn you out,

    too. Sending an email four times a year isnt enough. We send emails twice per month and find

    this to be the ideal schedule (for our customers) for delivering the best results.

    C A L L S T O A C T I O N

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

    interesting, engaging content. The second is to help you get more business. Calls to action can be as

    simple (and clear) as: Download a Free Demo, Sign Up, or Start for Free.

    Calls to action are how you will encourage readers to become customers. As youre 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 something youve written, and the

    CTA encourages people to read the entire article on your site. Or, you might be running a contest,

    and your CTA tells people to visit my Facebook page to enter. Whatever your goal, make sure your

    readers can take an action to help you achieve it.

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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

    Each email is not necessarily about an immediate sale. At OutboundEngine, our customers email

    newsletters include calls to action like: refer a friend, get in touch or 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. I want to stress that

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

    always know how they can get in touch when theyre ready.

    When creating your call to action, decide:

    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 theyre supposed to take?

    Whats in it for them?

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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


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

    Make a list of things that youre an expert in, professionally and personally.

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

    2 Build PersonasFigure 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.

    3 Identify ProblemsThey know you for your profession; give them a reason to stay in touch with you for your

    expertise and advice.

    Make a list of questions that youre asked most often (they may or may not relate directly

    to your profession).

    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.

    4 Create SolutionsUse 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.

    5 Assess ContentBefore sending, double-check your work.

    Is the email all about you or your business?

    Does it help solve a problem or entertain your customers?

    Is this what you want to be known for?

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    2 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 read or act on the CTA, then no one will respond the way youd like them to. Email clients

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

    according to different standards. Here are a few best practices to ensure that your campaign looks

    great for each and every one of your recipients.

    M A K E I T M O B I L E F R I E N D L Y

    There are three different 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-friendly calls

    to action; large text that is easily readable on all screen sizes; and a simple (usually a single column)

    layout that works on all screens.

    Fluid design uses sizes based on percentages to make tables and images adjust to the viewers screen

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

    Responsive design uses CSS media queries to adjust the size of images, text, buttons and, in some

    cases, 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.

    I N C L U D E A T E X T - O N L Y V E R S I O N

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

    which will be automatically sent to recipients who cant view HTML emails. Also, many email clients

    will block images so if your text is embedded within in, 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 cant or dont want to view your message in their email client.

    F A V O R A C L E A N , S I M P L E D E S I G N

    Single columns helps with content hierarchy (what the reader should look at in what order) and also

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

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    M A K E I T F U N C T I O N A L

    Dont go beyond 600 pixels wide, and stick to web-safe fonts. Stay away from JavaScript, attachments

    and background images.

    A L W A Y S S P E C I F Y

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


    M A K E I T E F F E C T I V E

    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, to use an old

    newspaper term, meaning recipients dont have to scroll down to see it.

    T E S T , T H E N T E S T A G A I N

    Try out your email in as many email clients, browsers and operating systems (including mobile) as

    possible. This means opening, checking 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.

    P U T A B U T T O N O N I T

    Buttons are a great way to highlight important information and, in particular, calls to action. Use

    vibrant colors to create contrast so your button/CTA will stand out. One caveat: Since many email

    clients will 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.

    Its hard to overstate how critical mobile is.The numbers have varied a bit over 2014, but most stats show that almost half of all

    emails are opened on a mobile device. This percentage is only expected to grow. Make

    sure youre ready for a mobile world since most people will read your messages on one

    of these devices.

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

    B E C O N S I S T E N T

    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. (At OutboundEngine, our 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, you know youve taken it too far.

    Whatever frequency you decide, be consistent. Let your customers know what to expect. Dont send

    emails weekly one month, then once the following month. People are creatures of habit and like to

    know what to expect.

    E F F E C T I V E S E N D T I M E S A N D D A Y S

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

    most debated. Ask 10 people what the most effective send times and dates are, and youll get 10

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

    Kissmetrics says early mornings and weekends but also says those days/times are also the most

    likely to get you unsubscribes and bounces.

    Experians benchmark study says that 8 p.m. to midnight is optimal.

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

    MailChimp says that Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. are the

    surefire winners.

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

    Wednesday afternoons around 2 p.m. However, every person, recipient and email list is different. Try

    different days and times and find what works best for your audience.

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    4 How to build an email list

    Before you can market to someone with email, you have to have email addresses to market to. Building

    an email list can seem challenging at first. But dont let the task intimidate you. It gets easier and easier

    until it becomes second nature. Here are a few tips to get you started (or to add to your current efforts).

    S E N D T O P E O P L E W H O H A V E O P T E D I N

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

    meaning that theyve signed up deliberately and know what theyre agreeing to. We do not recommend

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

    P A S T A N D P R O S P E C T I V E C U S T O M E R S

    If you already have a database, great! That is 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 you communicate with them so they agree to being on your list!

    Y O U R W E B S I T E

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

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

    and what they can expect.

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

    Experiment with calls to action to see which work better and increase your conversion rate. Also make

    sure, no matter what form you use, that a visitor can still navigate your site easily.

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    P O P U P S

    Mentioning popups and popovers is usually met with skepticism, groans and eye rolls. But they can be

    effective. 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 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. Its easy to install, easy to configure,

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

    Q U I Z Z E S , S U R V E Y S A N D C O N T E S T S

    Quizzes are hot right now! BuzzSumo did an analysis of top posts shared over an eight-month period

    this year, and eight out of the top 10 most shared articles were quizzes! You could also host an online

    contest. People get a chance to win a prize in return for giving you their email address.

    Similar to other email gathering options, make sure that youre giving your audience a genuine incentive.

    Dont snag someones email address and then only spam them with sales pitches. Thats just bad marketing.

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    M A X I M I Z E Y O U R S O C I A L M E D I A

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

    you might prefer one social network, that doesnt mean all of your clients share your preferences.

    Build profiles in as many platforms as you can, 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 campaign, and tell them what they will gain by doing so. Did you know you

    can easily export contacts from any email and most social media platforms? Chances are, you have

    been building a contact list without even knowing it.

    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. That way you will maximize your reach with your

    customers in as many places as possible.

    L I N K E D I N

    In particular, your LinkedIn connections are a goldmine of email addresses for your database.

    Even if you have these contacts in your database already, its always a good idea to export updated

    information (people can change email addresses, change jobs, etc.). LinkedIn is likely to offer more

    relevant contacts than other social media networks because most of those people are connected with

    you professionally versus personally.

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

    process here.

    G O P A P E R L E S S

    Use email as much as possible as your go-to correspondence. Not only is this method efficient and

    convenient, it puts you in the position of collecting email addresses from the get go.

    E M P O W E R T H E C L I P B O A R D

    Make it a regular practice to have a clipboard (or smartphone with a notepad) 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 are offering market tips, promotional contests, discounts, or just to stay in touch.

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    G E T B Y W I T H A L I T T L E H E L P F R O M Y O U R F R I E N D S

    Dont 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 offering content for them to share

    when they encounter someone who would benefit from what you have to offer.

    B E C O M E A N I N T E R N E T E D U C A T O R

    Dont underestimate the power of your industry awareness. Offer webinars, chime in on forums, hold

    seminars, etc. This is an excellent way to put forth something valuable, build relationships and, you

    guessed it, expand your email contact list!

    U S E T H E P O W E R O F T H E A S K

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

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

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    5 Why you should take advantage of email automation

    When someone uses the term email automation, this generally refers to sending relevant emails

    out on a timeline of your choosing, scheduling them in advance so you dont have to sit there

    hitting 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 youve set up an automated email campaign, you dont think about when you should send the

    next email because youve already scheduled it, which gives you more time to focus on other aspects

    of your business.

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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

    Section 1 shares best practices; in other

    words, what you want to do with your

    email marketing. This section tells you

    what you dont want to do.

    S E C T I O N I I

    What to Avoid S E C T I O N I I

    What to Avoid

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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

    1 Dont spam

    Spam is junk mail unsolicited, unwanted and often a scam. Thats why email providers work hard

    to keep those annoying emails out of your inbox and most likely 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 dont recommend buying lists because there are laws in place to protect people from receiving

    certain types of unsolicited communications.

    S P A M R E P O R T S

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

    might think all that happens is that the email gets 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 your ability to send any emails, not just emails to the account that reported you as spam.

    C A N - S P A M A C T

    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 that all email

    marketers must follow and establishes the consequences for not following the law. If youre sending

    emails for commercial use, you have to:

    Include an unsubscribe method.

    Actually unsubscribe someone when they request it, and do it 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 dont have to be a spammer to be reported for spamming.

    If you send email newsletters long enough, its bound to happen eventually.

    As long as youre legitimately obtaining email addresses from your actual customers and clients (not

    purchased lists) and staying CAN-SPAM compliant, youll have no trouble keeping this number low.

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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

    2 Words, phrases and other things to avoid

    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 somewhere

    from 10 to 20 percent of emails from your subscribers inboxes.

    We mentioned above (in the subject lines section) that you can experiment, cautiously, with some of

    these words. Recent research suggests that spam filters may be more aware of context than in the

    past. Just make sure you measure your campaigns so you can adjust future emails if these words do

    negatively impact your results.

    Spam filters may be triggered:

    By using all caps, extra punctuation (like ?!?! or !!!) or special characters.

    By not having a text-only version available.

    If there is extra code, such as code pulled from Microsoft Word or codes from things like Google


    If your recipients have marked you as spam too often, this could work against you with future


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

    between image and text.

    Your email will likely go to the spam folder if

    The first eight characters of your email address are digits

    From contains [email protected]

    From contains success.

    From contains [email protected]

    From contains [email protected]

    From contains @public

    From contains @savvy

    From contains [email protected]

    Who is receiving your emails? Youll be spam when

    To contains [email protected]

    To contains [email protected]

    To contains [email protected]

  • 24

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

    Youll go to the spam folder if your email subject line contains



    ! AND $

    ! AND free

    Youll also risk triggering spam filters if your email body text contains

    Pretty much anything having to do with money, like cash, money back, make more money,

    extra income, etc.

    cards accepted

    removal instructions


    !! AND Body contains $

    Dear friend

    for free?

    for free!

    Guarantee AND satisfaction OR absolute

    more info AND visit AND $


    one-time mail

    order today

    order now!

    money-back guarantee

    100% satisfied




    check or money order

  • 25

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

    3 Why you shouldnt send email blasts

    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, if they bother to open your email at all.

    Think of email marketing as a conversation. You want to talk with your customers, not to 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, take the time to listen to your customers feedback

    and adjust your marketing accordingly. An email blast is a monologue, not a conversation.

  • 26

    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 I I I

    Measurement S E C T I O N I I I


    O N E O F T H E M A I N B E N E F I T S O F E M A I L M A R K E T I N G I S T H A T

    Y O U C A N T R A C K A N D M E A S U R E Y O U R R E S U L T S . T H E R E A R E

    S E V E N F A C T O R S M A R K E T E R S S H O U L D M O N I T O R T O G E T T H E

    B E S T , M O S T S U C C E S S F U L O U T C O M E S F O R T H E I R E F F O R T S :

    1 Email deliverability

    2 Inbox rates

    3 Bounce rates

    4 Unsubscribes

    5 Open rates

    6 Click-through rates

    7 Spam reports

    S E C T I O N I I I


  • 27

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

    1 Email deliverability

    Having someones email address doesnt guarantee that youll be able to deliver an email into their

    inbox. Email deliverability (or acceptance rate) is the success rate an email marketer has in getting an

    email delivered to a persons email address. It is the percentage of emails that are delivered, divided by

    the number of emails that are sent. So if you send an email newsletter to 500 of your past and present

    clients and 450 are delivered, then your deliverability rate would be 90 percent.

    Arguably, deliverability is the most important metric. If an email isnt delivered, there is no email


    W H A T F A C T O R S C A N I M P A C T E M A I L D E L I V E R A B I L I T Y ?

    Email continues to evolve. In the 90s, if you sent an email to someone, that message was delivered

    to their inbox. Then spam filters were introduced to combat too many unwanted emails. Spam filters

    work to protect your inbox from unwanted solicitations, especially those looking to exploit your

    personal information.

    Over the years, additional layers of security have been added. Some people use personal filters to keep

    unwanted emails from their inbox. The automated filters your email service provides have improved to

    remove poorly formatted email that may appear to be spam.

    Even today, changes to email services like Gmail (inbox tabs and priority inboxes) continue to challenge

    email marketers with good intentions. The ultimate goal is to get people to open your email, but

    there is a lot of work that has to take place before that can happen. Regulations and practices change

    regularly, so its important to keep up-to-date so your email marketing continues to be effective.

    I P A D D R E S S R E P U T A T I O N

    IP addresses develop reputations. Major Internet service providers (ISPs) get used to receiving traffic

    that is viewed as non-spamming, and if your emails are not reported as spam, your IP address is

    considered safe. Without this reputation, emails would never be accepted by the servers. You need to

    worry about this only if many people report you as spam.

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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

    2 Inbox rates

    A good deliverability rate ensures that various email servers accept the emails you send. The inbox rate

    (or inboxing rate) is the measure of how many of those emails are sent to the inbox (as opposed to the

    spam folder or bounced).

    The simple way to calculate this is the number of emails that reach the inbox divided by the number of

    emails that were sent. This number does not include the emails that are sent to the spam or bulk folder.

    High deliverability is important, but getting those delivered emails to appear in the inbox is imperative.

    And with the introduction of more intelligent inboxes like Gmails Priority Inbox and tabs features, the

    email recipient is playing an increased role in highlighting which emails are more important to them

    than others. In other words, the more a recipient opens an email from a specific sender, the higher

    future emails from that sender will rank in their inbox.

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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

    3 Bounce rates

    The bounce rate metric is defined as the number of emails that are rejected by the receiving server.

    While the deliverability rate (or acceptance rate) counts the number of emails that the receiving server

    does accept, the bounce rate counts the emails that are returned to you. High email bounce rates will

    negatively impact the sender so its important to keep this rate low.

    Email bounces fall into two categories: hard bounce and soft bounce.

    A hard bounce is the more severe of the two bounce types and means that the email is completely

    undeliverable. If this bounce occurs, it is generally a good idea to remove the email from your list. If an

    email is hard bounced, its typically for one of three reasons:

    Email address/recipient does not exist (this could be the result of a typo).

    Domain the email was set to does not exist.

    The receiving server has permanently blocked delivery.

    A soft bounce indicates a temporary issue. After attempting delivery to an email address over a few

    days, it will finally be marked as a soft bounce. Soft bounces can occur for any number of reasons and

    a few are more common than others:

    Server or mailbox is full.

    The server handling the recipient email is down.

    Email is too large to be delivered.

    When a bounce does happen, its important to analyze why emails were unable to be delivered. You

    may need to remove emails from your list, reduce the size of your emails or consider other factors to

    decrease your bounce rate.

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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

    4 Unsubscribes

    Email unsubscribes are people who request to stop receiving your emails. People will unsubscribe for

    any number of reasons, but many unsubscribes are due to issues from the sender. Uninteresting or

    irrelevant content and poor formatting are among the top reasons why people unsubscribe from emails.

    When putting together a future email campaign, its always good to analyze your past unsubscribes

    in order to help you avoid more in the future. Depending on the size of your email list, seeing a few

    unsubscribes every so often is fine. But if one email campaign has more unsubscribes than others, its

    good to figure out why.

    What did you do differently that time compared to other campaigns? Did you change the send date?

    Was the content too provocative or too boring? Are the people who unsubscribed new or have they

    been long-time readers? These are all good questions to ask and should be part of your review process.

    Remember, the option to unsubscribe is required by law. A visible, operable unsubscribe

    mechanism must be present in emails sent in bulk. Meaning that in every bulk send, you have to

    include a working link to easily allow someone to unsubscribe.

    If youre sending valuable content at an acceptable frequency, rest assured youll keep your recipients

    happy and your unsubscribe rates low.

    You can have awesome email newsletters, full of engaging and entertaining content, successfully

    land that email in someones inbox and get them to open it, too. But if someone, for whatever reason,

    simply doesnt want to get your emails anymore, its always in your best interest to make it easy for

    them to unsubscribe. Otherwise they may report you as spam.

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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

    5 Open rates

    By definition, the open rate is the measure of how many people opened the emails that ended up in

    inboxes. This is one of the more important metrics for email marketers because it directly correlates

    with how successful campaigns are performing. Open rates are also the most direct way to evaluate

    the performance of your subject line.

    Calculating open rates: There are two different calculations for open rates. The disingenuous way is

    by taking the number of times an email is opened (which can be multiple times from one person) and

    then dividing it by the number of emails sent. Calculating open rates this way will inflate the end result

    and give an invalid measure.

    The more accurate way to calculate open rate percentage is to take the number of times an email is

    opened (once per person at most) and divide that by the number of emails sent.

    Why open rates are important: A good open rate is always something to aim for. It means your

    subject lines are working well.

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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

    6 Click-through rate

    The click-through rate is how many people clicked on links in your emails. Were there certain links

    that were clicked on more than others? Did you see a rise in traffic to your site? Were there more

    contacts initiated, referrals, etc.? These are all good things to keep an eye on after you have sent an

    email campaign, especially if website clicks are the goal of your email campaign. It also shows you that

    your content and design are working as they should.

    7 Spam reports

    Its important to measure spam reports because:

    If you see a sharp increase in the number of people reporting you as spam, most major email

    services will start blocking your IP address for all emails you try to send.

    A sudden increase in spam reports could also mean your unsubscribe link is too hard to find or

    perhaps missing altogether.

    Seeing an increase in spam reports might indicate youre sending too frequently, or that your

    content is missing the mark.

    You may also need to check your subject lines and content to make sure your wording, formatting

    or other factors are not triggering spam filters.

    As email marketing continues to evolve, the only way to keep up is to continually adapt and change

    as well. However, without monitoring and measuring the success of your email campaigns, you wont

    know or understand how to modify your approach if things arent working.

  • 33

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

    H A C K S T O I N C R E A S E O P E N R A T E S

    Here are nine simple hacks to get people to open your emails.

    Hack #1 Switch Your from Name

    Look at any message in your inbox and youll see three things: sender name, subject line and

    message preview. Thats not a whole lot to work with, so you need to make every character count.

    When you send emails to your past clients and potential customers, what do they look

    like when they get there? Are they coming from your company name or your own name?

    Hubspot discovered that emails coming from a person have both a higher open rate and

    click-through rate compared to emails sent from the company name.

    Hack #2 Get Personal

    Personalizing email subject lines with the recipients name is old news, but theres a reason

    its so common: it truly does work. Marketing Sherpa did a case study in which they A/B

    tested seven different email campaigns. For example:

    Email A: 6 Steps to Building Long-Lasting Client Relationships

    Email B: [First Name], 6 Steps to Building Long-Lasting Client Relationships

    The results were impressive. Email B, the one with the personalized email subject lines, had

    17.36% higher average click-through rates on all seven of the A/B tests they did.

    Hack #3 Know Your Length Limits

    50 characters (or fewer) is the general rule of thumb for subject line length. While you can,

    of course, use more, 50 has been proven to be the sweet spot for character count. Be aware

    that a lot of mobile email tools cut off subject lines at 25 characters, so make them count!

    Still not convinced? Just know this: 66 percent of all emails are now opened on mobile devices.

    Its crucial that you know how to craft the perfect email subject line for every context.

  • 34

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

    Hack #4 Stop Using 4-Letter Words

    The 4-letter word equivalents in the world of email marketing are words like free, help,

    percent off and reminder. Other no-no words include cash, quote and save. Using these

    words in your subject line can easily trigger a spam filter, which means your email will end

    up in junk mail folders instead of inboxes.

    But if youre a risk taker, Hubspot has been doing some work recently that suggests that spam

    filters might be more contextually aware than they used to be. In one of their tests, they tried a

    subject line with free as the first word. They had the email come from a person and reported

    not seeing any deliverability issues. They conclude that you should be wary of spam trigger

    words. Dont avoid them completely, but use them in a way that is non-spammy.

    Hack #5 Preheader Tweaks

    When you see an email in your inbox, the subject line and accompanying text that fill up

    that line are known as the preheader. The actual length varies by email client, but as an

    example, Gmail gives you 100 characters to work with. In other words, if your subject line is

    particularly long, you can forget about any preview text from the email showing up.

    To use this to your advantage, first, make sure that youre keeping your subject line at

    50 characters maximum. This gives you 50 characters to make a compelling case for the

    viewer to open your email. Make sure the subject line flows logically into the first lines of

    the email, too. You want everything to tell a story and prompt your reader to want to know

    more. Use calls to action to help trigger this response.

    Hack #6 Forget About the Best Days/Times to Send Emails

    Theres really no such thing as the best time to send emails. If that were the case,

    everyone in the world would use that day and time and, in turn, cause that magical

    combination to become the worst time to send emails.

  • 35

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

    The hack here is to find industry trends and use that information as a good starting point to

    begin experimenting. I found this collection of studies on the best times to send email, and

    while they all have differing results, there were a few consistent trends. Email open rates

    drop off on the weekends; emails sent Tuesday through Thursday will get the best open rates

    (but will also compete with the highest volume of emails sent); and early morning/late night

    sends have some interesting levels of engagement.

    But my favorite quote for this hack comes from a guy named DJ Waldow:

    Ive read a lot of research on the best day/time to send. Some people

    never send on Sunday because nobody checks email on the weekend. I

    know several people who have found a ton of success sending on Sunday.

    Ive also heard Wednesday mid-morning is the best time. Heres the deal.

    Your audience is not my audience. You have to test to find the optimal day

    and time for YOUR audience.

    The only way to find the ideal send time for your audience is to test a variety of day/time

    combinations until you find a winner.

    Hack #7 Make a Long-Term Content Investment

    Youve enticed someone to open your email. Youve grabbed their attention (temporarily) and

    you simply cannot afford to blow it. Did you know that bad content is a top reason why people

    unsubscribe from emails? Twenty-five percent, in fact. Just because you can get them in the

    door doesnt mean youll be able to get them to stay. Your content has to be worth their time

    and not a bait and switch.

    Good content isnt a bad thing to invest in. On the surface, the business benefits lead to brand

    loyalty and increased referral business. And from the standpoint of hacking your emails, the

    more often people open your emails, the higher theyll rank in that persons inbox. This is

    whats known as your inbox credibility.

  • 36

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

    Hack #8 Be Negative

    Why do you think tabloid magazines do so well? Or why its so easy to get sucked into

    Buzzfeed or news outlets for hours, almost by accident? Its because they are the kings of

    controversy. Dont be afraid to get a little negative with your preheader text.

    For example, I sent this email to a group of our newsletter subscribers and tried two different

    Subject lines. Guess which one had the higher open rate?

    Version A: 5 Content Marketing Tips to Help Your Business

    Version B: 5 Content Marketing Mistakes (and Why They Hurt Your Business)

    Both subject lines led readers to the same post, but version B, the one that had a little bit of

    negativity, was the clear winner.

    Hack #9 Numbered Lists

    Numbered lists let you know from the start that you can easily skim the headers and quickly

    consume the content in a few seconds. Were wired to like classification systems, things that

    are organized like stories, and knowing the quantified length of something before we begin

    reading. The New Yorker described this best, saying, In the current media environment,

    a list is perfectly designed for our brain. We are drawn to it intuitively, we process it more

    efficiently and we retain it with little effort.

    We dont suggest you mash up all nine of these email hacks into one big experiment. However,

    you should experiment. First and foremost, make sure that your email content is locked down.

    If youre not getting people to read your emails, then theres no point in sending. After that,

    give some thought to when you send your emails and build out a schedule to test various days

    and times. And lastly, when youre crafting your preheader text, always keep a 100-character

    count in mind and spread that evenly across the subject line and the first line of email copy.

    These hacks are all designed to take advantage of how the human brain works. And while

    that might be enough to capture your readers attention in three to four seconds, you are still

    a human, and they are too. Your emails need to maintain that human quality of a personal

    email that can be felt by both the sender and recipient. Be genuine.

  • 37

    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 I V

    The Next Step

    Building Relationships, Improving Your Bottom Line

    S E C T I O N I V

    The Next Step

  • 38

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

    1 How to build relationships using email marketing

    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

    customers, at least most of the time.

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

    to name a few. In industries like these, bombarding your customers with messages about buying new

    homes, financing and updating their policies especially if they have recently taken these actions with

    you becomes annoying and repetitive and could trigger unsubscribes.

    In industries with long sales cycles, the majority of your customers are not likely to be in the market

    for your services at any given time. Thus, you use email marketing to keep in touch and to help them

    until they are ready to do business again. You build trust with them by providing regular, 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 business in front of clients, in a non-obtrusive way. Then, when that person

    is ready to do business again, or refer a friend, your name is top of mind.

    Here are a few tips for nurturing relationships with email:

    P E R S O N A L I Z A T I O N : 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 clients situation (for instance, not sending a renewal notice to a customer who

    just renewed).

    C O M M U N I C A T E W I T H T H E M , N O T T O T H E M : Use a conversational tone. Just

    because youre sending an email to a large audience, it doesnt mean you cant write it like youre

    talking to a single person. Customers want to be communicated with, not to. Think of it as a dialogue

    instead of a monologue.

  • 39

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

    B E W E L C O M I N G : If all someone means to you is 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 youre sending to

    someone. If all you have to say to your email list involves you or your business, thats not really inviting

    someone to have a conversation with you. You wouldnt simply walk up to someone and ask them for

    business. Make your emails inviting.

    K E E P I T B R I E F : Why send a lengthy newsletter when a few paragraphs and sentences will do? Of

    course, there will be some emails that are longer than others, but make sure the length is appropriate

    to the message. If theyre longer, make it easy for readers to find what they want and get to the point.

    M A K E E M A I L S R E L E V A N T A N D P R O V I D E V A L U E : When someone signs up to get

    your emails, they want you to communicate something of value. Make the email worth their time.

    Plus, you already know your customers, and you probably know their interests and needs. Your emails

    should reflect this rather than being simply self-promotional.

    B E C O N S I S T E N T B U T N O T A N N O Y I N G : Finding the right cadence for your emails is

    definitely important. You want to keep your brand in front of your audience. Just dont overdo it.

    The whole idea behind building relationships through email is that the payoff doesnt have to be right

    then and there. Just sending an email doesnt necessarily result in instant business. And thats 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, theyll

    become voluntary marketers, recommending you to others.

  • 40

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

    2 How to use email to increase customer retention

    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/strategy (like a holiday card) to keep those relationships alive. Thats where email

    marketing can help.

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

    K E E P I N G Y O U T O P O F M I N D : Regular emails are key to maintaining your name and

    brand recognition with clients. The next time a customer is looking to do business, you dont want

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

    M A I N T A I N I N G A C O N V E R S A T I O N W I T H C U S T O M E R S , Y E A R - R O U N D :

    Email marketing that is timely and relevant to seasonal trends can act as a friendly reminder. Maybe

    its 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 its helpful and not about you, youre good to go!

    Either way, the more you can converse with your client base, instead of market to them, them more

    theyre going to appreciate hearing from you.

    P U T A F R I E N D L Y F A C E O N Y O U R B U S I N E S S : Whether youre a loan officer, realtor

    or insurance agent, it may be some time before your client needs to contact you again. In the

    meantime, doesnt it make sense to be a professional, trusted friend to your clients? Think of it as a

    way to make your customers continually happy to have done business with you.

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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

    3 How to use email for referrals

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

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

    events, youre already 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. Thats 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 theyll help your business grow.

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

    trust. Then, with the other 20 percent, you can ask for referrals or another action that benefits you.

    For instance:

    R U N A R E F E R R A L C O N T E S T: Dont abuse this option, but definitely reward customers who

    send referrals your way. You could do 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 iPad Air or a $500 Amazon gift card. Run a referral email contest one to four

    times a year where every referral someone sends you, they get an entry into the drawing.

  • 42

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

    Conclusion Email marketing can be an extremely useful, efficient and low-cost

    tool to help you promote your business. By helping, 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 wont be

    able to learn whats working and what you need to tweak to improve.

    Good luck!( A N D H A P P Y M O T O R I N G )

    200 East 6th Street, Suite 207 | Austin, TX 78701

    Phone: 512.782.9983 | Email: [email protected]