Let me ask you a couple of simple but important questions: how are you using email marketing in your business, and how effective have your email marketing efforts been? If your answers are anywhere near “no” and “not very”, you need to read this article!

In today’s marketing climate where social media is often considered king, the power of email marketing is being overlooked by many vegan entrepreneurs and business owners. As a retailer (on or offline), you can’t afford this oversight. If you’re not already using email marketing as a major part of your marketing mix, you should be.

But — here’s the but — it’s critical that you do email marketing right. With overloaded inboxes bogging us all down, you want to make sure that your emails are hitting their target, and not just ending up in junk mail folders. But how do you do that? Here are some key tips:

Use it as a communication tool, not a delivery system.

Instead of thinking of your email as the delivery system for your newsletter, consider using it as a communication tool, like you do with friends and colleagues.

If you met someone you wanted to nurture a relationship with at a networking event, you might send them a follow-up email, saying how great it was to meet them. Then you might send another email a few weeks later touching base and asking how things are going, providing them with an update on what you’ve been working on. Imagine how these emails would feel — conversational.

This is the feeling you want to create with your email marketing, but that doesn’t mean you have to email each person on your list individually. However, you can segment your list into people with similar needs, then compose an email that would be appropriate for that group, asking them how their projects and lives are going, and providing them with links to information that can help them.

These emails may be designed HTML or plain text, but either way they should feel personal and conversational. Email is a way for you to build on your relationships with potential customers, so treat it less like a broadcasting tool and more like a step-by-step process to bring you and your potential customers closer.

Find yourself a great email marketing tool.

Using the right email tool will take you beyond the basics of just sending out email — email marketing means so much more than that! It means thinking about email strategically, and considering how it can help you meet or exceed one (or more) of your business goals. For example, if you want to increase sales from your existing customers, a 3-part re-engagement email strategy might be just the ticket to help.

Not only can email marketing directly affect your bottom line, it can also help you build steps throughout your sales process to identify more opportunities for sales. This can translate into increased traffic, conversations, repeat business and referrals. Used correctly email is one of the most diverse tools for creating and assisting in establishing sales.

But this doesn’t happen overnight. You need to work on how you email, when you email, what you say in emails, and who you email. Don’t underestimate the dedication this requires, but know that the results your efforts will yield can be tremendously profitable. When you have a direct line to your customers you can bring great value to the table — you are no longer just selling a product or service, but you become a brand that your customers love.

A good email marketing tool can make this all SO much easier. It will help you stay organized, enabling you to save time through automation, track how successful your emails are (which helps you understand what you can do better), and much more. For example, many email marketing tools allow you to do A-B testing. This is an opportunity to change one aspect of your email to see if it generates more opens, clicks or sales.

The most common A-B test I use involves subject lines. Our email marketing tool allows me to email about 40% of our list with 20% getting one subject line and the other 20% getting the other subject line. The group that yields the greatest open rate is the winning subject line, then the system sends the remaining 60% of the list the email with the winning subject line.

A few of my favourite email tools are Mailchimp, convertkit and Drip, but there are many different tools out there. Note that due to compliance laws, it’s in your best interest to stop sending emails from your inbox, which is another good thing about making use of an email marketing tool.

Connect the dots.

One of the most useful aspects of email marketing is that it can connect all of your marketing efforts — provide the gel, so to speak. This is key in helping you to stay in touch with all your past, current and future clients or customers and building those longer-term relationships and networks.

Take every opportunity you can to sign people up to your mailing list: if you are speaking at a local event, ask the audience to join your mailing list, so you can build on the conversation; if you do a cooking demonstration, ask people to join your mailing list so you can let them know about upcoming classes. Whatever promotion or marketing you are doing should ALWAYS give people the option to join your mailing list so you can contact them and keep a conversation going, as well as keeping them up-to-date on your services and offerings. Include an option on your website for people to join your mailing list — make it easy for them to come back by inviting them via email, rather than waiting for them to discover your site again.

Imagine you are launching a new product or service. Instead of doing a ton of work to develop an idea, hoping your potential customers like it, what if you could use email marketing to gather feedback on every stage of the development process?

For example, if you’re working on a new package design for a product, you could send an email to your list asking them to vote for their favorite. Even better, you could ask them to complete a survey so you can determine what’s more important to them: local sourcing, zero waste, recyclable materials or upcycling.

When customers are part of the development process you are more likely to create a product that meets your customers’ needs. And the more people who participate in the process, the more people will purchase the product — not just because they participated, but because they will see that you are listening to them, and that your customers are important to your company.

Keep it on your own terms.

Once someone is on your mailing list, you have a direct line of communication with them, and you can email them whenever you like. This might sounds like a no-brainer; however, I bring it up because this direct line of communication is an important benefit to consider as you evaluate email marketing vs. your other marketing tools. Channels like social media change their algorithms all the time, so those you were able to reach last week aren’t accessible to you anymore. When you aren’t able to communicate with people on your own terms (when you want and how often you want), it can degrade your impact and the value of the tool.

Email marketing done well goes far beyond the basics of sending a newsletter when you get a spare minute. When you get serious about including email marketing as a key part of your marketing strategy, it can help you to generate valuable dialogue and interactions with your clients and customers so you can establish lasting relationships, increasing interest in your business, and the sales that come with that.

TAKE ACTION

Think honestly about how you are using email marketing in your business now. Are there ways that you can improve? Choose one thing to do in the coming month to improve your approach to email marketing. If you are new to email marketing that might be just investigating a couple of the tools and deciding which one is a good fit for you. If you are using email marketing already, it might be about strategies to build your list, or tweak your emails so they are more impactful for your business.

This article is part of the Vegan Mainstream Essentials Guide, Marketing Madness. Download all the articles in this collection, here:

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