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Beginners’ Techniques for Email Marketing

If you don’t have much experience with email marketing in professional services, it’s important to start with the basics. Master the fundamentals of a sturdy campaign and you’ll have a sturdy foundation once it’s time to move on to more advanced techniques. 

So how do you get started? First, you’ll need to decide exactly what you’re setting out to do. This blog post is part one of a series where we will go through the different levels of email marketing techniques. 

Setting goals and finding topics

 First, it is important to develop specific goals and a clear vision of what you want to gain from email marketing. This will give your strategy direction, helping you navigate your approach and connect with your audience.

Once you understand your goals, you can identify the right email content to support them. In other words, once you know why you’re talking to your audience, you can figure out the right things to say.

In addition, make sure to align your email content with the rest of your digital marketing efforts. Everything you send ought to be relevant to your email audience and consistent with your brand messaging.  Your emails may focus on:

  • Your firm’s content

This may include the release of guides, eBooks, and whitepapers, or upcoming events like webinars and speaking engagements. Similarly, you might invite your audience to subscribe to your blog or read case studies and profiles on your website.

  • News and trends

Email content may focus on breaking news and trends, both within your firm and the industry as a whole. Keep your audience up-to-date on major, relevant developments in your organization and the marketplace. 

  • Hard offers

At the appropriate stage in the buying process, you may offer your audience closer engagements such as complimentary consultations or reviews.
 

Once you’ve nailed down the fundamentals of your content, ensuring consistency with the rest of your marketing efforts, it can be very useful to take a data-driven approach. You can conduct keyword research to find search terms and topics of interest to your audience, or see which topics perform well on your existing platforms by looking at social media and Google Analytics.

For further insight on relevant topics, you might consult your sales and business development team for questions and objections that arise frequently from prospects. Stay up-to-date on what’s trending in the news and on social media, and keep track of marketplace trends through industry websites, tradeshows, and conferences. 

Whatever content types and topics you choose, it’s crucial that you include a call-to-action in your emails. This prominent, aesthetically appealing message may urge your audience to download a piece of content, get in touch to schedule a consultation, or click through to your website. Whatever action users take, it should encourage further engagement – and make sure that you can measure its success through marketing analytics.

Creating your calendar

How often should you email your list? You don’t want to contact your audience so often that they unsubscribe out of annoyance, but you don’t want them to forget they ever signed up for your emails, either.

 There’s no precise “Goldilocks” frequency. Context is key: the right frequency for your campaign will be dictated by factors including your particular audience and the type of content you send. But the following guidelines are best practices that apply to any professional services firm: 

  • Be consistent and predictable.
    Always send emails on the same days. This builds a familiar rhythm – audiences like to know what to expect and when to expect it.
  • Keep your word.
    Email as often as you promised when people signed up. If they subscribed to a weekly newsletter, email them weekly.
  • Know your capabilities.
    Determine how often you can send out emails based on your available resources – and try to be realistic. 
     

Consistency and sustainability are essential. In order to achieve both, plan out your campaigns in advance. Make sure your resources are in place so you have time to properly craft and refine topics, copy, and design. And as you build out your calendar, consider the emails you’re sending both individually and as a group. Are they varied enough to keep your subscribers engaged and educated? Do they align with your overall marketing goals over time? These are questions you’ll need to revisit regularly. 

Crafting subject lines

Once you’ve got the right content, a detailed calendar, and software to power your campaign, you’re finally ready to get down to emailing your list. But first, you’ll need to write a subject line.

For most of us, this is a familiar challenge. You’ve probably spent a few minutes pondering the precise subject line to use for a tricky or important email in your personal life. Moreover, we all receive a barrage of emails everyday, all clamoring for our attention. Happily, this means we have some context to consider what works and what doesn’t. 

Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and think about what kinds of subject lines you’re most likely to open. Consider the sender of the email in addition to the subject line – would it be most appropriate if this message came from a named individual, a particular team, or the firm as a whole?

In the subject line itself, take a straightforward approach, avoiding gimmicks and sales-oriented pitches or posturing. Not only will many readers tune out when a subject line looks too much like a hard sell, but words like “free,” “help,” “reminder,” and “click here” often get emails flagged as spam by email providers. Try to demonstrate value to readers by indicating the benefit they’ll receive by opening and reading the email. Be descriptive, honest, and concise, trying to stay under 50 characters. Typically, it’s best to maintain an even tone, avoiding exclamation points and all-caps.

Along with the language you use, think about how readers are viewing your emails. Many will be reading on mobile devices, meaning their inboxes will likely preview fewer characters for the subject line and body text. This only compounds the need to achieve maximum descriptive impact in the shortest space possible. 

As email marketing grows more sophisticated, marketers are gaining new tools to test for the most effective subject lines.

Stay tuned for part two of this email marketing series, where we will explore more advanced techniques like split A/B testing and offer strategies.

Ready to get started? Download our Email Marketing Guide for more tips and tricks as you begin your email marketing efforts.

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Katie Sanner Katie’s professional background is as wide as her smile. From advertising and design to professional AEC marketing experience, she has experienced marketing from both sides of the table. Katie has worked at Arnold Worldwide, where she was a Creative Manager for clients such as Amtrak, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Choice Hotels. Later, she spent several years in the AEC industry, including Deltek and marketing a Washington DC Top 25 Engineering Firm.

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