THE BLOG
07/14/2015 12:09 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Map Out Your Email Marketing Game Plan - Part One

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Map Out Your Email Marketing Game Plan
Part 1: Where Do I Start? A Step-by-Step Guide For the True Beginner

So you're interested in getting started with email marketing for your business. You've skimmed a few "email marketing for beginners" articles, but you still haven't fully grasped the concept or figured out exactly what to do. With this three-part series, I'll take you through the steps in thorough detail with everything from getting the first person to sign up for your list, to what to do once your email marketing audience grows from just a few family and friends into a few thousand enthusiasts.

If you're a beginner...

You probably feel like you don't have the time, money, or experience necessary to successfully build your email marketing program. You need to to give yourself more credit where credit is due. You've recognized the importance and value of email marketing so much so that you've begun researching how to do it properly. Props to you. All it takes to successfully use email marketing is a passion for the product or service you provide, a knowledge of the wants and needs of your consumers, and a guide (like this one) to get you on the right track.

The first step is to put an email sign-up form on your website or blog. Sign-up forms, simply put, are a place for people interested in your content to give you their email addresses. You will also want to ask for their name and possibly one other piece of information (like birthday) so that you have the ability to be more personal with them. A sign-up form is how you're going to get subscribers. Period. If you don't have an official website or blog, adding a form to your Facebook business page will work, too. If you're a brick and mortar business without an online presence, I strongly encourage you to put some content out for the world to see.

Remember, these are people, not just email addresses

Once you've secured a solid number of people as subscribers, make sure you are thinking of them as more than just email addresses. This is a pool of people who have made a conscious decision to consume email messages from you. These people (not email addresses) will become the building block for a meaningful and ongoing one-to-one relationship. No pressure.

Before you even venture out to entice people to sign up, you should already have an idea of what you're going to be sending to them. This is your business. Treat it as such and plan out your content in advance. By preparing some topics before building your audience, you are stockpiling messages that provide you the best chance to get your audience engaged and keep them engaged as you develop your program.

Offer a welcome & some incentives

So, what should you say? Logically, your first message to these people should be a welcome. They may have signed up for three other email lists that day and forgot about yours. That's life and this is often inevitable. So, make sure you say hello. Welcome them to the subscription and tell them a little bit about what they should be expecting in the emails you'll send. In other words, now is your chance to draw them in and get them to see your emails as exciting rather than a nuisance. Offering coupons or insider tips always helps to sweeten the deal.

Before sending out your welcome email to your audience, make sure to do a test run. Send a sample email to yourself, close friends, and family to see what everything looks like. Invite feedback from your testers so that you can make sure your intended audience will get the best possible version of your email. Draft a rough copy and then make a few different versions. Ask your friends and family which they prefer and why, while still keeping in mind who your audience will be. This should be a part of your planning stage.

The bottom line

Email marketing is a helpful, uncomplicated way to maintain an ongoing dialogue between you and your customers. With the simplicity and low price of current email marketing software, there should be nothing stopping you. As someone who's just getting started, your main goals right now are to figure out your audience, prepare and plan the content you'll send to them, get your sign-up form online, and send out your first welcome email.

Stay tuned for part two of this two week series, where we'll hone in on ways to grow your audience and how to elevate your email marketing program to its maximum potential.