5 Things to Do When Starting an Email Marketing Program

June 3, 2011

Guest post by Eric Groves, Senior Vice President, Strategy, Corporate Development, and Innovation, Constant Contact

As a freelancer, it’s important to stay top of mind with your clients. After all, when they have work that needs to be done, you want your name to be the first one they think of. With all the options available to do this and the limited time you have to devote to it, you need to be able to quickly leverage the tools that will have the most impact. Email marketing continues to be one of the most effective communications channels so if you’re just starting out, here are 5 ways to help you get set up for success:

1.    Create a high-quality, permission-based list

The secret to any successful email marketing program is having a list composed of only people who want to hear from you. Otherwise, the people on the list won’t open your messages or click on the links contained within. To build a high-quality list, add a Join My Mailing List box to your website, promote your list on social media sites, tell people about it when you meet them at events and ask if they want to join, include links to your signup form on invoices … any time you come in contact with a client, ask if they are signed up to your mailing list.

2.    Develop a content strategy

Once you have a list, the next thing to do is decide what you’re going to send those people. Tips for success in your field? Recent work you’ve done? Interesting content you’re reading that others might enjoy and learn from? Whatever you choose, don’t make the content all about you and don’t make it just a sales pitch. Your newsletter should be helpful, worth reading, and contain real benefit for your subscribers. Use your email program to position yourself as a real expert and a solid, hard working professional.

3.    Integrate social media

Are you making it easy for readers to connect with you and share your valuable content on social media? Include links to your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles so you can be found. Then direct your readers there by asking provocative questions and encouraging response. More importantly, make sure your newsletter is shareable, so your readers can post your issues to their networks, extending your reach in the process.

4.    Incorporate feedback

In addition to social media, provide other ways for readers to let you know what they think of your newsletter. Include an email address or phone number that people can use to contact you. Provide a link to an ongoing survey. However you choose to collect feedback, be sure to tell your readers that you want them to share it with you. And then make sure you learn from what you’re told.

5.    Learn from your metrics

After you send each issue of your newsletter, you’ll have valuable data that will tell you what’s working and what’s not. For example, your click-through data will inform you of what content is most interesting to readers (make sure you include links so people have something to click on). Continue to provide what’s working, and hold back on content that isn’t generating clicks. If your open rate is low, you could try crafting more compelling, enticing subject lines that will make people want to learn more. The more you can deliver what your subscribers want, the better your chances of gaining more work in the future.

Following these steps will ensure that the foundation of your email marketing program is strong, and primed for growth. But don’t just put everything on autopilot. Keep growing and watching your performance so you can continue to improve and meet the needs of your subscribers.

Click here to get started with your own email marketing program. And to learn more about email marketing best practices, visit Constant Contact’s Learning Center.

about the author

FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.