This article was written by my friend Danelle Brown of Queen Bee Marketing. I have added my comments relating to the promotional product biz. My comments are in burgundy.

Email marketing used to be the only online method a business owner had to keep in touch with their clients and potential clients. When social media came along and made things easier, email marketing started to get somewhat of a bad rap. However, everyone should keep in mind – and this is the one thing I tell all my clients – email is never going anywhere. It is also the thing you have total control over, meaning you own your list – you do not own Facebook. It is imperative that you continue to keep in touch via email. Even if your email is not officially “opened”, the chances are it is seen anyway in the preview section of most people’s email accounts. Seeing your name keeps you top of mind. But how does a business owner make the most of their email marketing? Here are some helpful tips that will assist you in getting the most out of your email marketing.

1.Send more than just a monthly newsletter
Most email programs do not limit the amount of times you can reach out to your list in a month. So why not mix it up a bit? You can use your software to welcome new clients each month, send appointment reminders, birthday greetings, holiday wishes or even special events that your company is having. Think outside of email: what would you reach out to your clients and send them if you were mailing something via snail mail? The sky is the limit on thoughtful emails that could lead to your next sale. With all the products we offer, you can never run out of things to send- specials, new products, case histories, new suppliers, successful promotions, supplier flip through catalogs and statistics!!

2. Segment Your Lists
This is especially true if you are very specific with certain emails. For example, the topic of your blog you are promoting may be targeted to a specific group of people. Take a technology company for example. Maybe they are giving tips on something that is Windows related. That company should have at least two lists: one for Windows users and one for Mac users. That way you are sharing relevant content to your list and not annoying some of your clients with information they don’t care about. Agreed Danielle! You should have "ID Status or some other code within your database so you can send special enticements to prospects or accounts you want to reactive. You should segment them into the type of industry so you can send similar messages to similar businesses. 

2. Utilize the Autoresponder Feature

This is the most under-utilized feature of most email programs. Typically there is a thank you email once someone signs up to be on your list and that is it. Take the time to set up several follow up emails. For instance if the first one is a welcome, the second auto-responder could go out a week or two later asking a specific question related to why they signed up. For example if you were selling a product, you could set up several auto-responders to go out to make sure the customer is satisfied or to see if they have any questions. Perhaps even asking for feedback can be an option. This keeps you top of mind, as well as provides good customer service. Again, very true! I call it drip marketing. Send one email, then another depending on how or IF they responded. One example, I do a "check in" each year on every product sold. Sending the first email to inquire if they need that item again, was that for a one-time event or did we need to look for a new product this year? Then a follow up a few days later, that automatically goes out saying something to the effect of "I hope I haven't heard from you because you're busy and business is booming!".

4. Make sure it is mobile friendly
More and more people check their email on mobile devices. I have seen stats that range anywhere from 50% up to 80% on my clients’ reports that show mobile devices are how the emails are being opened and read. With that in mind, you want to make sure you select a mobile friendly template, or if you are making your own make sure it is easily read on a mobile device. We are all guilty of not reading an entire email if it is cumbersome and just moving on from frustration. If it is hard to read, you will lose the attention of your audience. This is vitally important nowadays- and applies to YOUR website as well. Get that corrected right away if not! 

5. Re-engage the users that did not open
I know that Constant Contact provides detailed reports on who opened and who didn’t open your email campaign. You can run a report and select all the unopened email addresses, change the subject line to see if that helps to get their attention, and send it again. The important thing is to try. People get a lot of email, so it is important to try sending it again to see if it helps your open rate – which hopefully leads to more sales! I use an amazing system that rates all activity like opens, links clicked and scores each activity. If you don't get  response, yes, send again- BUT THEN CALL THEM! Especially if they are a past client! They may have opened on their cell phone and that might not be recorded. Also, if you get someone who opens it several times- call them. Inquire if they got the email. They might just have been distracted and happy you called to get that off their list! Don't forget- the PHONE STILL WORKS- and is your best option besides face to face to build your customer relationship!  

6. Actually use it!
This one seems simple, but it is sadly true. Everyone knows they need to send emails, but they get bogged down with what to put in them, not enjoying the process, or a myriad of excuses of why they don’t have time to get it done. Let me be clear – if you are not emailing your audience you are missing multiple opportunities to connect with them. Email is a MUST. So if you need help getting it done, then find help. Agreed! So many people, including myself get busy doing other things. It's great to be busy writing up orders, but we always have to keep our pipelines full! Whatever you use- USE IT! 
In full disclosure, I am a Constant Contact fan. I have been a faithful user since 2007. I have seen a lot of changes in the way the email programs work in the last nine years. But one thing remains the same – people still check their email, and people are definitely influenced by great subject lines and dramatic images. So stop putting your email marketing on the back burner and make the most of the most precious asset your business has – your list.

So  tell me about your email plan. What system do you use and why?

ME NOW- I switched from Act! and Swiftpage after 20+ years to Hatchbuck because of better tracking, LIVE REPORTING and many other features. I'm not their representative but would be happy to point you in the right direction of getting that set up. In JUST ONE MONTH, the system paid for itself! I had a consultant set it up and transfer my accounts into the new database. All I can say is Hatchbuck is amazing! A real CRM system that will help your Promotional Product Biz GROW- and that's what I'm all about!!

So  tell me about your email plan. What system do you use and why?