How to Set Up Your List Right The First Time (or The Second)
This blog post is the second in a three-part series laying out the steps to successfully build your list using a solid foundation on which you can build. I’m going to just jump right in assuming you’ve followed along with the steps in the previous post. So, if you didn’t you will want to checkout the first part in the series and make sure you didn’t miss anything important.
Once you’ve identified your audience and their needs, you can get down to business and make your email campaigns a reality. It’s not hard, but it does require a little more planning on your part.
Make a Strategy
The types of campaigns you’ll be running will guide your choice of technology to handle your mailing list – so make sure you’ve thought through what you need to do over the next six months to one year, at least. What are the goals you actually hope to achieve, and how do you make those a reality? Some of the campaign types to think about include:
Every time you update your blog, you should send an email to your list that either pushes them to your blog entry or just includes the whole entry in the actual email – along with a strong call to action.
With an email newsletter, you can talk about whatever you have going on – it’s like a compilation of your latest news. Send these at a regular interval, like once a week or once a month. If users know when to expect them, they seem less like spam and more like a magazine subscription.
Direct emails address one specific offer, such as a new product or a sale. Any time you create a major event online, you should broadcast it to your list with a direct email. It’s not a bad idea to send two of these – one with some advance, and one immediately before the event, in case they’ve forgotten about it.
These are emails that are directly related to some action on the part of your user – for instance, purchasing a product on your site. A transactional email should summarize what just happened and what to expect in terms of next steps.
A drip campaign is a series of emails that are automatically “dripped” to your user at a pre-determined interval. The “drip” is typically started when they sign up, and they receive the different stages of the campaign on a schedule – maybe it’s once a day, once a week, or once a month. The first email is typically a welcome email thanking them for signing up and setting their expectations for the rest of the campaign. If you are creating a drip campaign for a course or an information product, these typically go out every day or every week for a specified period of time.
Map Out the Details
Once you’ve worked out your strategy – which should probably include more than one of these types of campaigns – you can select an email service that fits your needs. But there are a few more considerations to work through, first.
For one, how many lists are you planning to have? It’s possible to start out with one list, but if you want to run multiple email campaigns, it might be better to have several lists targeted to different types of users. Think through your user personas and whether your users will feel spammed if they receive multiple types of messaging via one channel.
One of the benefits of having multiple lists is that you can always merge them for bigger promotions. Just be careful – don’t send your users anything they haven’t agreed to. If you want to send a message to all your lists, you also want to make sure you remove any duplicates first. Sending multiple copies of the same message is another great way to end up in the spam bucket.
You can also segment a list, if you want to work in the reverse direction and reach out only to very specific customers. Segmentation allows you click here to create a sub-list based on specific criteria – for instance, recent purchasers, first-time buyers or lapsed purchasers.
Choose Your Technology
Once you know what your needs are, you can select the mail service that’s right for you. Mad Mimi, Mailchimp and AWeber are all very popular with small businesses, but it never hurts to research thoroughly and make sure you’ve got exactly the right product to fit your needs.
Automation – letting your campaign run itself based on criteria like order history or triggers like specific customer interactions – is another major consideration. Drip and Hatchbuck are popular solutions that allow for seamless automation of entire campaigns.
Some of the things to consider when selecting an email service:
- Number of contacts
- Number of emails per month
- Number of lists allowed
- Number of shared account users
- Ability to import existing contacts without reconfirmation via opt-in
- Sending speed
- How easy it is to customize the look of forms
- Reporting capabilities
Once you’ve got all these issues nailed down, you’ll be ready for the next blog post in the series, which will show you how to analyze your statistics and test which of your campaigns perform best and increase your conversions.
How do you plan out your list building? Post any questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.