Welcome to our new weekly podcast segment with Gene Marks.

Hey everybody. This is Gene Marks and welcome to The Hartford, Small Biz Ahead podcast this week. Guys I want to talk about email marketing. Email marketing was once declared dead and now it is really more popular than ever. And I wanted to share my thoughts with you based on some email marketing experts that I’ve recently been talking to about sort of the best practices for doing email. First of all, just to make sure that we are clear in 2020, according to one research firm called Statistica, there was about 306 billion emails sent and received every day around the world. And that number is projected to increase to 376 billion within the next few years. I mean, it really comes as little surprise to most anyone running a business. I mean, when I look at different research and marketing firms and analyze this stuff, you know, they say that many, many small businesses rely on email as their main way of communicating.

I mean, there used to be a time where people were thinking like Facebook messenger and text messaging and WhatsApp would be like the primary means of communication. And although those are powerful ways to communicate, it’s really email. An email marketing service said that two thirds of small businesses use email marketing to reach their customers. So listen, it’s a really critical marketing tool and let’s let’s face it. There’s still a lot of confusion about using it. So, you know, it’s 2021 now and maybe you’re listening to this in 2022. So, you know, it’s pretty recent. Let me, let me share with you just some, some of my thoughts on email as to make the best use of it. Okay. So for one, you don’t want to send hundreds or thousands of emails from your company’s email server or your rate over your, you know, from your company’s email platform like outlook or Gmail, cause that’s a quick way to get canceled by a Microsoft or Google or get your internet service provider really angry.

So if you are sending out hundreds of thousands of emails, you really want to be making use of a bulk email service, and I’m sure you’re familiar with some of the popular ones, constant contact MailChimp, Emma, I also like one called a Weber as well. There’s a bunch of them that are out there. Those guys, those platforms they’re their primary job is to make sure that your email gets delivered to the people that you were trying to get it in their, in their inbox. And, you know, they provide templates and other assistance for sending out email campaigns. They provide help with making sure your emails aren’t going to wind up in somebody’s spam folder, but really the, you know, their job is to get them out there and listen, the best ones of these, they will test you. They will ask you about your opt in rules and how you’re maintaining your data.

The most popular ones like Constant Vontact, they don’t allow you to send emails out on their service to like an info ad or a sales ad address. They want to make sure that your emails going out are legit and they will shut you down. If they think that there is any problem or you are even remotely thought of sending out spam now, not only does that keep you honest, but it has another really big impact. It allows their emails to get through the major email services out there. The, the Hotmails, the Gmails, the, you know, the other services like it, they know that the servers that are owned by these well-known email campaigns, software, bulk email services, like Constant Contact or MailChimp, they know that they put their users through some due diligence. And so they let the emails to those servers generally go through.

So they’re less inclined to block messages. So the bottom line is this pick a good, legitimate, genuine well-known mainstream email, bulk email marketing service. Again, I mentioned Constant Contact, MailChimp, Weber, Emma, others are really good services to consider there are others out there do your research. Once you have a good service and you abide by their rules, take advantage of their features and functionality. And you’ll also find that your emails will get through more so to their recipients than if you use a less well-known service. Right? So that’s number one. Number two has to do with content. Listen, I mean, nobody wants to get a sales message in their inbox so your contents, your emails themselves should always be short and they should be mostly non-promotional. Okay. So, you know, your community, the people that are getting your emails, they want information.

That’s going to help them. I mean, that information could be about your products, but it should also include maybe thought leadership or insights or advice, maybe two or three articles in an email with links back to a more detailed blog entry that you have written. You just want, you don’t want your email marketing to be like, buy my stuff, buy my stuff, buy my stuff. You know what I mean? That is not what end-users want to be getting. Okay. So if you do that, you’re going to find that your email is ultimately going to die. So you don’t give them the whole kit and caboodle in that one, email, you know, what their appetite peak their interests, and then say, learn more by having a big juicy button for clicking and get them back to your website as well. Okay. Also when it comes to content, your subject line is, is hugely important.

I mean, I learned this myself just by, as a writer and the different places that I write for. It’s all about the subject line. I’m not talking to be clickbait. I’m not allowed to do clickbait anymore in some of the platforms that I write for including Small Biz Ahead, but you know what, your emails, your emails. So if you want to be a little click baity, you really can. I mean, you certainly don’t want to have an email subject line that says that your newsletter from my company, I mean, who cares? Who’s going to open that email. It’s not very enticing. You know, so what you want to do is you want to have some type of a subject line that really does motivate somebody to read that email, and it’s gotta be eye catching. You don’t want it to be misleading, but like, things like here are three ways to fix this problem.

Or, you know, if you’re doing this, you could be making a mistake, you know, and you’re thinking like, oh my god, I don’t want to make a mistake. You know, I used to get for months at a newsletter, an email, every month from a company that makes umbrellas and the subject line said, umbrella company newsletter. I won’t give you the name of the guy, but it was like newsletter from umbrella company. I never read any of those newsletters. Cause I’m like, that’s, I have too many other things to read. Now, if the email came and said something with a catchy subject line, like, you know, three reasons why your umbrella may give you cancer, something like that. And assuming that the article was legit, then it would be more enticing to read that email. So you really want to focus on that subject line.

My advice go buzzfeed.com. I mean, they are like the Kings of catchy awesome headlines. Whenever you read the New York post also has some really great headlines as well, learn from the people that write headlines for a living and then take some of those headline magic and use it in your own emails. Okay. Now, you know, good email campaigns, effective email campaigns. They always have good metrics. You know, now the major, you know, services are going to provide those metrics for you. So that’s a good thing, but let me give you some advice about metrics. Yeah. You’ve got to track metrics in your emails. You want to know if people are actually reading them. Okay. Don’t worry about the open metric. It’s misleading in my opinion, because a lot of the email software that’s out there like Gmail, for example, allows users to preview their emails without them even opening it.

And they can just look at the first few lines of an email. Well, you know, when you preview an email, they’re not really reading it, but a lot of the email services cause they they’re, they only have so much they can track. They count that as being opened and that’s not, that’s not really necessarily correct. So I don’t think you’re really concerned with how many people are opening your emails. I think what you’re really concerned with is how many people are clicking on things in your emails and how many emails are being bounced. I mean, when emails get bounced, it means they didn’t meet, reach their intended recipients. So that should be investigated, you want to have good clean email lists, but when recipients are clicking on the links that you provide, because they want to read more of an article or get more information from an ad that shows interests, you know, and you know, you want to find out from you from all the reports who is clicking and who’s following through because in the end click rates mean that people have an interest in what you’re selling or what you’re talking about.

Some metrics just to, you know, the average click rate, according to constant contact is about 11.3%. And the average bounce rate is about 9.4%. So if your numbers are above or below those, you know, those averages certainly something that you definitely want to be looking into. Okay. How about the right time of day to send an email? I mean, people ask this all the time. Now listen, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent with universities around the world to do research on all sorts of things about human behavior over the decades behind us. And here’s one thing that all these universities can agree on. Most people are asleep between the hours of midnight and 6:00 AM. So don’t send your emails overnight like that people are generally not going to be reading them. Right? Usually I have always told my clients that the best time to send an emails between 10:00 AM and three o’clock in the afternoon Eastern time.

But you know what a lot of that’s changing a lot of email consultants and marketing experts say basically, it’s really when they’re being opened by your audience. So you want to track that a lot of times people can see if, you know, when, when emails are being clicked on, you can track the time of day when that’s happening. And that will tell you something, it also depends on your industry. You know, I mean, there are some industries that are growing and changing and there are so many things that are going on that you might want to be emailing that list more frequently or less frequently generally people say, you know, send it at the time of day that, that, you know, is what, when you think your audience is going to open it and you know, enough. And the only way you’re going to know that is by testing it out over a period of time, getting metrics from your email service provider and, and figuring that out on your own.

And as far as how often you’re sending emails, I mean, you want to make sure that you’re sending them as often so that you’re not annoying the recipient. And that depends on your list. So let me talk about lists, okay. Back in the day, it used to be where, hey man, I’m going to send out a blast email to everybody in my database. People don’t do that anymore. Hopefully you’re keeping a good database of your customers and prospects and community. And hopefully you’re keeping it in a good customer relationship management system, a CRM system, like a Zoho or Microsoft dynamics or a Salesforce or any number, one of the good ones that are out there when you want to segment your data there. And you really want to be tracking people. I mean, you know, you can have multiple lists for your emails. You don’t send out maybe just one email a month to everybody in your database.

You might be sending out 5, 6, 8 emails a month to you all those different lists because listen, it’s okay. If you only have a hundred people on your email list, but 98 people are reading the emails that you send out. That’s good. So if you have 10,000 and only 98, people are reading it that’s bad. So you want to make sure that your emails you’re going to the people that are most likely to read them. They may be customers of certain products or customers that might be interested in certain products or prospects that are in a certain way, or maybe just cold prospects that you want to just keep in touch with. Those lists will, will then determine how often that you are sending those emails. If you’ve got a list of good solid customers that need to be up-to-date on your products, you’re probably going to be emailing them pretty frequently.

If you’ve got another list of non-customers, maybe they’re a prospect they’re out there. They’re kind of cold, but there they are. Maybe you’re just sending an email to them once every quarter without getting on their nerves. So you’ve got to determine based on the list that you have, how often each of those lists are going to be getting it based on how important you think those emails are going to be final thoughts for you on email marketing and using email services. No, you might not want to hear this and the email services don’t like to tell you this, but you’re probably going to need some help. I mean, having effective email marketing campaigns takes a lot of work. It’s creating the content, it’s segmenting all of the data and maintaining that data. It’s coming up with good templates that are, that are good to see.

It’s being creative to come up with good subject lines. And then when you’re sending them out, it’s also a matter of having the metrics and tracking and testing and making sure that they’re going to the right people and with the right frequency and that as the right type of information in it to see who’s clicking and who’s opening well, you know, and, and, and also, you know, how many are bounce backs to cleaning up your list? It takes time. So you’re probably going to need some help from the outside, which means that you really should be budgeting, not just for the monthly cost of the email service, but probably a few hours a week, maybe it’s a marketing student from a local university, or maybe it’s somebody with more experience, but I got to tell you something, you really want to have a, you know, a freelancer or, or, or somebody that’s assisting you in doing all of this, because it it’s like everything else in this world.

It takes attention and you’re going to get out of it what you put into it. You gotta put something more into it, because email campaigns and email marketing are really effective when they’re consistent and they’re regular, and people are used to getting them. You will see people responding when that happens. But the only way you’re going to make that happen is really by having somebody dedicated and who’s in charge of getting it done. So those are my thoughts on email marketing. As we reach into the second half of 2021, uh, these will probably be pretty good thoughts for the next year or two, but who knows things are going to be changing. And I’m sure as things change, I’ll be updating you on that as well. So thanks for listening everybody. My name is Gene Marks. You’ve listened to this podcast on Small Biz Ahead. Listen, if you need any more advice, topics, content help in running your business. Visit us at smallbizahead.com. Again, my name is Gene Marks. I look forward to speaking with you next week. Take care.

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