Starting out with email
If you’re starting a new business and worried you can’t do “emailcommunications” yourself – you totally can.
To help you get started I’ve jotted down a few questions Iregularly get asked from people who’re just starting out things like platformselection, how to get started with set-up and design.
I’ve worked with many email platforms over the last 20+years I’ve been in Marketing, some costing over £250k per year to free oneslike Mailchimp – the industry can make things feel overly complicated, but itdoesn’t need to be.
Start simple, take one step at a time and you can check“email marketing” off your list of things to do.
But there are so many agencies and professionalsdedicated to this, it must be difficult, can I do it myself?
Times have changed from when you used to have to have dedicatedCustomer Relationship Management (CRM) software loaded on your laptop, linkedto complicated databases if you wanted to create any sort of personalisation.
It seems crazy now that I felt lucky that I chose tocomplete a few extra Information Systems papers at University in the late 90s (Ilearnt a bit of HTML, built databases and websites from scratch), as it gave mea sort of superpower to use these incredibly complicated, non-user friendly,expensive bits of software to build some pretty simple email flows.
A business would have to have teams of people along with anagency working on a single email. Now there are loads of user friendly softwareoptions to choose from – all of the complexity of building databases and customintegrations can be removed allowing you to singlehandedly do it yourself.
Obviously, I’d be doing myself, communication specialistsand digital agencies a disservice to say we’re never required. However ifyou’re starting out – rather than waiting until you have everything ready tobrief an agency, just make a start.
Use specialists later on to improve your conversion rates,they’ll help you spruce up the design and copy – but for now,
80% of something is better than100% of nothing
Which platform should I choose?
If you’re starting a new business and agonising over which CRM/email platform to choose, don’t worry, this is a revolving door decision - you canchange your mind later on.
Don’t worry so much about getting it right, the importantthing is to get started – with the time you invest reading comparison reviews,checking out features etc – you could have made a start already gainingvaluable insights, new subscribers etc.
Gone are the days where the CRM provider could hold yourdata to ransom (it used to be notoriously difficult to get your data out of asystem) – a simple search on “how toexport database from Mailchimp into XYZ software” will give you step by stepinstructions.
If you picked something now that no longer meets your needs,it is inexpensive to switch to something else.
A deliberately over simplified guide to get you started:
· If you have Hubspot for all of your other things= use Hubspot CRM
· eCommerce business with a platform like Shopify= use Klayvio
· All other businesses = use Mailchimp
I would typically advise avoiding the “free email tools”that may come included with your website host like WIX or Go Daddy, they don’ttend to be as easy to use or feature rich.
With software generally you’re safe going with a companywhere they are single minded about the problem they’re solving and their softwareisn’t trying to do too many other things (ie an accounting package just doesaccounting stuff, Mailchimp just does email stuff).
My Facebook feed is filled with courses and offers for “emailflows” and conversion templates, where do I start?
Don’t worry if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the thingsyou don’t know yet, your two-step process for getting things done:
· Step 1: Stop googling things
· Step 2: Make a start
Start simple and build things out from there. Your new emailtool will likely have ready-made templates and flows that help guide you.
Note: you may need to upgrade from the ‘free mailchimp’account if you start creating Customer Journey automations that contain morethan one step. If you simply need to automate a ‘Welcome email’ when someone signsup to your email list, that is included in the free option.
Make a start with just four emails – steppingstones alongyour customers purchase journey:
1) Welcome / Discovery:
o Really simple, when someone joins as a subscriber– say hello, introduce yourself and tell them what they should expect from youremail communications
o For e-commerce businesses this is linked to thebehaviour on your website:
§ You should have at least 1 abandoned basketemail. Start there and add others later like abandoned browse is triggered whensomeone re-visits your website
o If you’re providing services, perhaps this is anautomated email that is scheduled to send 2 weeks after the initial contactwith more details about your packages etc.
o Confirmation of purchase: let them know what to expect next
o Order shipped: don’t underestimate the importance of a well displayed order and tracking number, this really simpledetail will reduce anxiety and inbound customer service queries.
o Check in a few days / weeks later and ask for a review.
Once you’ve got these simple emails in place it is easy to add more emails in a chain.
It is time well spent regularly reviewing your conversion communications especially if you’re an e-commerce business.
Should I do a newsletter?
Newsletters are brilliant ways to keep your customers engaged and informed, but:
The world is not waiting for me to create a weekly newsletter, I don’t have the capacity and I doubt there is interest. Think carefully about the reason you want to create a regular communication, do you have time for a weekly/ monthly edition, is this something your customers/prospects want or expect?
· Start with purpose / why – what value are you delivering to your customer/ prospects
· What is your capacity – you should be consistent, realistically how often can you pull something together
· Your audience – how are they currently engaging with you / your content. If you think of email as an extension of your currentchannels like Instagram or LinkedIn – where are you prospects / customers hanging out. If you’re not sure, ask them.
There are enough plates spinning when you’re first starting out. It’s OK not to have a carefully thought-out content plan when you’re just starting out – my advice, don’t rush into something and overcommit yourself because you feel you should have a newsletter.
I am rubbish at design & copy writing, who can help me?
Great news, you don’t need to start from a blank canvas.
Two places for inspiration:
1) The software will very likely have ready made templates(you may need to upgrade to use)
2) Scroll through your inbox for emails that take have caught your eye – look at the types of words they use and think what is itabout the design that takes you fancy.
If you’re new to design, starting with something like Canva can provide a bit of inspiration along with guidelines for design.
Another option for design is using a service like Fivvr or Upwork to create email banners etc.
Now, I’m not suggesting investing in branding and great graphic design isn’t a worthwhile investment. It infinitely is.
When you’re starting out – don’t let this become a stumbling block, using your simple logo is fine for now. Create and launch first, improve later.
Measuring Success - What about testing subject lines ©?
Do you need to test the subject line and mess around with versions of copy / images etc - the answer really depends on the size of your emailing list.
You may have come across some advice saying you need to do “Av B testing”, typically unless you have thousands on your list, it isn’t going to be worth your time & statistically with a small sample size it isn’t going to be so relevant.
“A v B testing” = you start by splitting a target group into 2, you run ½ with subject line A, and the remaining with subject line B, you work out which performs best – and for the remaining group you select the winning subject line (you can test millions of things like copy, images, layout etc).
At this stage, go with your gut – change the subject line over time and see how that impacts your Open Rates.
“Open Rates” = this is the % of people that open your email.
“Click through rates” = this is the % of people that clicked on something in your email
There are many things that can help improve your Open and Click through rates, but for now, make a start and you’ll start gathering valuable insights about what your audience is interested in just by looking at what they are opening and clicking on.
Hopefully this has given you enough information to convince you that you can do it yourself, and it doesn’t need to be perfect.
I’ll create some tips and videos to help you on your way once you’ve set up a Mailchimp or Klayvio account.
For now, 80% of something is better than 100% of nothing. Make a start, tweak it later.