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In our recent article, I introduced the three broad objectives for e-mail marketing.  Listen very carefully: almost every business can benefit from all three of these strategies.  Indeed, so long as your customers and/or potential customers have an e-mail address, then e-mail marketing is a viable strategy for you.  In this article, I have described the best way to approach each strategy, followed by a summary of numerous essential tactics that you must employ in order to get maximum results with e-mail marketing.

Most businesses have the e-mail addresses of their customers or with a little coordinated effort could acquire them (please ensure that the business has permission to use the e-mail address for customer communications… it generally helps to make it very clear that you will not share or sell their details to a third party, as people are increasingly conscious of spam).  One of the major reasons business leaders cite for not e-mailing customers is because customers do not want to receive e-mails from them.

However, this is not exactly true; customers do not want to receive boring e-mails or overt sales messages.  On the contrary, they like to receive interesting, entertaining, helpful, useful or novel e-mails that add value to their lives.  Hence ensure that all of your messages fulfil this objective and your customers will appreciate your e-mails; in fact they will start to look forward to receiving them.  For instance, this is similar to the format for social media promotion.

You should develop a schedule of customer marketing e-mails with set e-mails being sent on set dates.  Unfortunately, there are no exact rules as to the number of e-mails; but so long as the e-mails are valuable, between once a week and once a month is a fair balance.

Remember that your objective is to build a relationship with your customers, so that they (1) will never consider using another provider, (2) will be made aware of your full range of services available and (3) will recommend others to use your services.

If your business model operates on a contract basis, you do not need to make any sales promotions.  But if you do not, you need to encourage customers to purchase from you.  You can do this via your e-mails, however you need to be more subtle or only make overt sales messages occasionally (I would advise only doing this 3 or 4 times a year, and so long as this is mixed with other valuable content, most customers will not mind).

Broadly, the same rules apply to prospect nurturing e-mails.  With this group you generally have less trust and awareness, so it may be necessary to spend more time building trust, awareness, credibility and recognition with the group.  Also, because they have not used your services, you will generally need to work harder in order to stimulate an enquiry or sale.  In order to achieve this, it is generally best not to increase the number of sales messages, but rather make the offers more compelling, using more attractive offers such as loss leaders or free trials.  Remember, the first sale will always be the most difficult to make.

Do everything you can to make the prospect compelled to give your business that first opportunity.  Because you have followed my previously provided guidance and provide a brilliant suite of products or services supported by great customer care, you only need the first sale in order to gain a customer for life.  More widely, do not forget to gain permission to add every potential prospect or referral partner to your prospect mailing list.

Using e-mails to generate new business enquiries and/or sales is something of a moot point in online marketing.  We will look at this next week!

Guest Post By Damon Millar, who is a business growth expert who runs our Mastermind groups.

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