E-mail marketing is an important facet of most online marketing campaigns. It is one of the few methods of low-cost marketing that can drive a huge return on investment if done properly. The beauty of e-mail marketing is that it is quite easy to start, and there are a lot of software solutions on the market with very affordable prices (some are even free).
Email marketing and CAN-SPAM compliance
Before you start your e-mail marketing campaign, it is a very important to understand about CAN-SPAM. CAN-SPAM is a law passed by the U.S. government that sets specific requirements for marketing through e-mail.
In short, it requires you to identify your e-mail with your legal name and physical address of the company. For most commercial mailers, it is a small paragraph at the bottom of their e-mails to happen, but there are some companies that offer this information elsewhere on the page. It the address is visible, then it is legal.
The next requirement is that the “From” email must be a real email address you own.
The third condition is that the subject line of the e-mail must be correct. You just can’t use a misleading subject line.
Finally and most importantly, there must be a way for people to opt-out from your mailing list, and this must be clearly visible on every e-mail you send out. This can be as simple as a text like “respond to this email if you do not want to receive any more emails from us”, or could be something more complex like a text link, wherein the reader is given a cancellation link on your site. Each method is acceptable as long as the reader can see the method clearly in your e-mail.
Using e-mail marketing software
E-mail marketing should not cost thousands of dollars to start; in fact, there are several programs that are free and relatively easy to use. Most web hosting companies will even have a free e-mail to manage lists of any kind automatically through your hosting control panel. However, if necessary, there are many paid email software out there like AWeber, which is one of the most popular e-mail list management software. For $20 a month, you can have a very good solution to meet your e-mail marketing needs. Paid subscription of AWeber gives you a lot of advanced features that are not offered for free.
If you go with an email management software, you must create a template for your e-mail. You can use a simple HTML editor like FrontPage to design a professional email template, or better still, go for MS Word in Office 2007 onwards.
Promoting your newsletter
Now that you have set up your e-mail software and also have a good email template ready, the next step is to start promoting your newsletter. Getting people to subscribe to your newsletter is usually very simple – it’s free and can be done easily if you know what you’re doing. A proven method is to link your website from forums; especially linking your signup page would be more helpful. Unless you are spamming or posting useless stuff on the forum, there’s a good chance that people will click on your links to check out your site.
Another good method is to leave comments on related blogs. If you are publishing constructive criticism on popular blogs, then you should also take as bonus some free traffic to your website.
Last but not the least, get your website listed in free online directories. The directories will usually list your website under an appropriate category, which can bring some traffic to your site. A good resource is the Yahoo directory which is visited by thousands of people each day, searching for something or the other. You may be listed for free on the Yahoo directory, but a much faster and easier way is to pay the premium fee of $300 per year. Yes, this is little steep, but it may be worth it. A directory like Yahoo also makes your site rank little higher in search engines, which in turn will drive more targeted traffic to your website.