For a lot of us, doing something new is scary.

It could be that we fear the unknown, a fear of failing or that we fear we won’t know how to do something.

Regardless of the source, many of us won’t ever try a new thing as we succumb to our fears.

When it comes to email marketing, several fears or impediments may come into play. So, let’s address them. But first, let’s take a look at why you should even be doing email marketing in the first place. If you made it this far, you’re at least curious.

The Case For Email Marketing

It’s projected that there will be 2.9 billion email users worldwide by 2019. That’s quite the large audience.

Additionally, 105 billion emails are sent daily, with that number expected to increase to 246 billion by 2020.

If the numbers aren’t convincing enough, here are several more reasons you need to be doing email marketing:

It’s Affordable. Hands down, email marketing is one of the most, if not the most, cost-effective marketing solutions available to businesses today.

It’s Fast. You can create and send your first email in under thirty minutes. You can reach thousands (or more!) of customers and leads in less time than it takes to watch an episode of Game of Thrones. Sending the right message will even inspire your subscribers to quickly engage with your campaign and act upon your call to action.

It’s Focused. Few people enjoy feeling like they’re being marketing to. Email marketing allows you to segment your lists into targeted opportunities which allows you to address the needs and wants of your subscribers and provide them with value. That makes for a happy, engaged audience.

It’s Simple. Anyone can succeed with email marketing, no matter their experience. Thanks to email templates and drag and drop email builders, as well as other easy-to-implement tools such as A/B Testing and List Segmentation, the learning curve for email marketing is lower than ever before. Plus, real-time reporting shows you your successes and areas for improvement. When your strategy is properly executed, your campaigns will contribute to managing themselves while freeing you up to plan the next move.

It Works. A well-planned email campaign will work to drive traffic to your website, increase sales and create ongoing engagement that leads to loyal customers. In fact, for every $1 spent on email marketing, the Return on Investment is $42 earned. Other marketing opportunities simply don’t see those results, all while creating and building brand reputation.

So, now you know why you should be doing email marketing. Now, what’s stopping you?

Overcoming Our Fears: Getting Started with Email Marketing

Fear of Not Knowing Where to Get Started

In the almost decade that I have been working in the email marketing industry, there is one statement that I hear all too frequently from business owners:

“We’re not ready for email marketing yet.”

However, the real reason they’re not doing email marketing yet is that they don’t know what to do or afraid they’ll do the wrong thing.

The truth is, any business, even before they have officially opened their doors (either at a brick and mortar physical location or on the web), should have an email marketing account.

Why?

It All Starts with a List

An email list is the single most important marketing asset to any business.

It’s more important than social media followers and a presence on those sites. After all, those sites could go away one day, and all your hard work would be erased along with your followers on that site.

Your list of contacts endures.

Plus, you can start growing your list even before you company officially launches. It’s a good idea to place a signup form on your website and Facebook page. Tell people to signup to get updates from the company to begin growing excitement.

That reason for that is twofold. On the one hand, it helps you build hype leading up to your launch date. It also helps you hit the ground running once you’re open for business.

Upload Your List

Many companies have a list of contacts, even if they are new to email marketing.

For some, it’s the list of customers with whom you’ve already established a relationship. For others, it’s the leads you’re already nurturing with one-off basic emails or phone calls. It could even be just the friends and family members who you can test your early strategies on.

Take what you have to work with and upload it to your email marketing account. Based on the amount of data you have on your list, you may even be able to begin some segmentation.

At the very least, it’ll give you your start to email marketing. You have to start somewhere, and even sending to a small audience will help you learn what works.

Create a Signup Form

After uploading any existing contacts you may have already had, a signup form is going to be your new best friend.

According to the Nielsen Norman Group, when asked to opt-in to receive updates for a company, 90% chose to receive an email newsletter. Only 10% elected to get updates via Facebook.

This is how your list will grow. From there, you expand your reach, follow-up with leads and build your brand–all while doing nothing more than placing a lead capturing form in the places that people interested in your business may visit.

So what goes into a great signup form?

  • Keep It Simple, Stupid. You don’t want anything on your list that will give someone pause before signing up. That means keep it short by not asking for too much information. Do you need more than the email address? Can you get that information or qualify your leads in another way? In most cases, the answer is yes.
  • Set clear expectations for the subscriber. This is important for a couple of reasons. First, it helps convince people to sign up. If they know they’re going to get deals from you or helpful information once a month, they won’t be worried about getting their inboxes bombarded. It also helps you attract the kind of subscribers you want and ones who won’t quickly unsubscribe.
  • Create a strong CTA. It should make your site visitors or social followers feel like they simply have to sign up to hear from you and that they have to act now.
    • Make sure the button is large enough to be easily noticed
    • Again, the button must stand out. Traditionally, red buttons work best, and green is the second most effective.
    • Your CTA copy should not be longer than 40 characters.
    • Use first-person language such as “me” or “my” to help potential subscribers relate better.

Now that you know what makes up a great signup form, it’s also important to understand where you should put them.

Your homepage is the obvious place to start. Some will place it right smack dab above the fold, as the hero image at the top of their page. These are people whose business relies on capturing email addresses.

by Regina signup form

You can’t miss this signup form on the homepage for by Regina. It helps that they’re offering something for signing up. Any incentive is always helpful.

Others may relegate their signup form to a sidebar or footer on the page. Make sure it’s on the top of your sidebar. The further down the page it gets, the fewer subscribers you’ll receive. Yes, the footer is all the way at the bottom of your page. However, if someone gets that far, they’re interested in what you’re doing. That makes for better quality subscribers in most cases.

Casper signup form

A company like Casper knows you’re not on their website to sign up for their emails. That’s why it makes sense for them to reserve their signup form for their footer. The “Free bedtime reading” copy is very on brand for them.

If you want to demand attention, use a pop-up signup form. A website visitor will not be able to miss your signup form when it pops directly into their sightlines.

TOMS signup form

You can’t ignore these savings from TOMS when their signup form pops up in front of your face. Saying “Join Us” is another nice touch. It sounds like you have less on the line to sign up. It sounds more like your helping them in their cause of donating shoes to those in need.

Aside from your homepage, here are a few other places you should put a signup form:

  • Your blog. It can even be a separate list from your main list. These people may just want to subscribe to receive email updates when you post new content on the blog.
  • Facebook page. Your social media followers aren’t always your email subscribers or website visitors. Change that.
  • About Us page. For many businesses, the About Us page is among the most visited on their website. Take advantage of the eyeballs on the page!
  • That little bar across the top of your site. You’ve probably seen it on some sites you frequent. There are tools that make it easy. Try Hello Bar or ViperBar.

SPF Records and DKIM

The phrase SPF Records sounds like it means I have to show proof to my overbearing mother that I wore sunscreen at the beach yesterday. DKIM sounds intimidating as well.

They don’t need to be!

While these two steps in getting started with email marketing are on the technical side, there are easy to follow instructions on how to do them. But first, let’s understand them.

SPF Records

SPF stands for Sender Policy Framework. If you’re like me, that doesn’t mean anything. In fact, it makes it more confusing.

Simply put, SPF Records allow ISPs and inbox clients to trust the authenticity of your emails.

Still lost?

Say someone knocks on your door. You look through the peephole to see who it is. SPF Records are the peephole of your email campaigns.

One of the most common tricks that spammers run is a phishing scam. They design an email to look like it’s from your bank and use it to gain access to your passwords or other sensitive data. Establishing your SPF Records means the ISP can identify the email campaigns you’re sending. It ensures the best chance of delivery of your email campaigns.

To establish your SPF records, you’ll do so with your DNS Manager. If you’re unsure of what a DNS Manager is, you’re not alone. If you’ve purchased a domain name and hosting, you have access to a DNS manager. If you don’t, whoever runs your website does. Ask them for help.

The SPF record for yourwebdomain.com should go in your DNS manager something like this:

yourwebdomain.com IN TXT “v=spf1 a mx ip4:1.2.3.4 include:thirdpartyespdomain.com -all”

In this example, 1.2.3.4 = the IP Address of your mail server or 3rd party ESP, like Benchmark Email. Also, thirdpartyespdomain.com = the domain of the 3rd party ESP, such as Benchmark Email, or their relay mail server’s domain name. Your ESP will give you this information.

Here’s a very helpful FAQ that will help you establish SPF Records with various domain hosts.

Additionally, you can get help with your SPF Records on these sites:

Once you’ve finished establishing your SPF Records, it’s time to test it. You can do so with either of these sites:

If you’re still lost or confused, you can reach out to the support with your domain host or your ESP. Both will have plenty of resources to help you out. We cannot emphasize enough how important this step is to getting started with email marketing on the right foot. If you need help, just ask!

DKIM

DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) is another intimidating sounding phrase, but one which is another easy step in setting yourself up for good email delivery from the start.

What DKIM does, is grants an organization the responsibility for an email being delivered, which may pertain to your own business or the ESP you’re using … or both!

Any ESP will automatically authenticate your emails with DKIM. That’s good news!

However, you can take it up a notch and enable a DKIM CName, which gives you double authentication. That means your emails are authenticated as coming from your business, sent through your ESP. This lets the ISPs identify you as the sender and builds your sender reputation with the help of your ESP as your co-signer.

This is what you’ll need:

  • CNAME RECORD FOR DKIM: bmdeda._domainkey.yourdomain.net
  • VALUE: bmdeda._domainkey.bmsend.com

Here is a very helpful FAQ to assist you with DKIM and various domain hosting companies.

For even more on what you can do to improve your email deliverability, check out our guide The Deliverability Formula: 5 Steps to Reach the Inbox.

Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card

For all of January, we’re running a retweet contest. All you have to do is RT the tweet below to be entered to win.

We want to inspire our readers to overcome their fears, and we’ve committed to conquering our fears as well. For each RT milestone we hit, another Benchmark employee will overcome one of their fears. Join in on the fun!

Are you ready for a smarter way to engage with your customers?

Benchmark helps you do email marketing the practical way. Create an ongoing relationship with your subscribers that leads to increased sales and happier customers.

Content & Social Networking Manager

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