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Simple Steps to Successful Email Marketing
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By Beth Nagengast

We’ve all heard the buzz about email marketing and how cost-efficient and easy it is to do. Email marketing helps businesses see instant sales from existing customers, but more importantly, it maintains and builds long-lasting, loyal relationships - which are the core of most successful businesses.

If you’re already marketing via email, excellent! This article, the first of a two-part series, will provide useful tips to improve the results of your email campaigns and ideas to build long-term relationships with loyal customers

For those of you who haven’t started email marketing, the time to start is now! You’ll learn how to do it efficiently and effectively. The goal is two-fold: To do it the right way with the right tools.

The right way is sending compelling emails to customers and prospects that want to hear from you and have given you permission to contact them.

The right tools are at your fingertips and easy enough for anyone to use – as long as you have an email account, an Internet connection and a Windows or Mac OS computer.

There are ten steps to successful email marketing. We will discuss first six in this piece and the rest later. Here are the ten:

Step 1: Consolidating Your Names
Step 2: Build Your List of Email Addresses
Step 3: Develop Your Email Campaign Mix
Step 4: Write Your Emails
Step 5: Choose Your Recipients
Step 6: Send Your Email Blast
Step 7: Process Opt-Outs
Step 8: Process Bounced Emails
Step 9: Follow Up Step 10: Refine and Repeat

Consolidating Your Names: This step is all about gathering names and getting them into an easily accessible, centralized location. Can you really have all your names in one place? Yes, you can, and it’s not hard!

There are a few ways that you can consolidate your names into one place. To make it as simple as possible, I recommend that you download and install one of the software programs available from Filemaker and other companies.

If you’re lucky enough to have your names already entered into Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Entourage, Palm Desktop, Intuit QuickBooks or another software program, you can minimize the tedious task of data entry by exporting your contact information from these programs and importing it into these programs.

If all your names are on paper forms or in your trusty Rolodex, this is the part where you (or your teenager) start typing.

Build Your List of Email Addresses: Building your own list of current customers, past customers, and prospects (versus buying names and addresses) is the best way to start an effective e-mail marketing list

You now have your existing names in a database. But up until now, you haven’t had much need for email addresses, so chances are that you have a big blank in the email address field for many of your customers.

What you want to do now is fill in those empty fields, in addition to adding new names and email addresses. Here are some ideas to get your started:

• Use your website, storefront, front desk, and every phone call as an opportunity to gather permission to email your customers. You want to provide something to which your current and potential customers will say, “Yes, I give you permission to send me email." A simple clipboard on your front counter or form on your website, that says “Sign up here to receive discount coupons via email!” or “Sign up here to get our free Newsletter via email!” will get you going.

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Beth Nagengast is the Product Marketing Manager for FileMaker Inc.
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