Dear Design Doctor
I want to send an email to existing and potential clients to launch my website. I want it to be colourful with images that you see as soon as you click to open the email. I also want to have a link to my website to click onto.
Do you know if I need to have any special program to create this kind of email? And how would I send it out to avoid it going into spam folders?
‘This is a great idea! I think email marketing is one of the most important and cost-effective ways for small design and craft businesses to stay in touch with their clients and contacts.
It’s not about selling, it is about following up with invites for exhibitions or shows, but also for regular newsletters or news updates such as a new website, new collection or new project.
I would strongly suggest that you start approaching and planning your email marketing seriously from the beginning.
Do not use your regular Windows Mail (or other equivalent) for this, as it won’t like sending lots of emails at once (and therefore categorise them as ‘spam’).
Please please please don’t send an email to lots of people and ‘cc’ them instead of ‘bc’ them. If you don’t blind copy (bc) them then all your recipients will see all the other email addresses you have send them to too! I see many people do this on a regular basis, and it makes you look pretty stupid. At best getting an email with lots of other addresses attached is annoying, at worst this will show your entire database to everybody …
(Plus it is actually illegal as this doesn’t comply with the ‘due care’ you should take of private information in line with the Data Protection Act – see below)
11 steps to get started with email marketing
1. Use a professional email marketing software provider
The most popular are MailChimp, ConstantContact or AWeber.
A big advantage is that MailChimp is free to use if you have less than 2,000 subscribers. (We have recently moved our own newsletter list from AWeber to MailChimp as we find it far more user-friendly to use, with better designed templates.)
2.Create a database
When you sign up to any of these providers you will firstly need to start creating a legal database. To keep in line with the spam laws in the US this will mean that you have to import your existing database, send them all an email to sign up for your email list, and only then can you actually start emailing them. This sounds harder than it is (as long as you have got all your data formatted in one place), as the software will take you step-by-step through this process.
If you want to boost your database you might want to read this blog post.
3. Create your first email, newsletter or invite
There are lots of templates to choose from (some worse than others!). And you can add your logo or images, colours, choose from different fonts etc. Really up to you!
I strongly suggest that you keep it simple, and that you focus more on good images than on loads and loads of text. You are a creative and visual person, and that’s what your audience will be interested in too.
4. Regular contact to create & improve your profile
Your (regular) email can be one of the most important aspects of creating and improving your profile and brand.
Plan the look and content headings of your email carefully, and repeat the same structure in the future to improve your brand recognition. To build your brand it is crucial that you create a consistency in the look and feel of all your promotional material. Have a look how well Ekta Kaul does that in the email above.
I suggest you send out 6 – 10 emails out per year: probably one every month and then more frequently in your selling period (this is for most designer makers in November and early December)
If you want to learn more about how to start creating your brand click here.
5. Make it personal
Make your email or newsletter interesting for your audience! Give the stories behind your products and business, show them what your passions and talents are.
Address your email and address to the recipient’s first name, e.g. Dear Carla.
Make sure that the email comes from a person, and not from a business name. It makes it a lot more personal.
At the bottom of your email I would always include your name, business name, website (with a clickable link!), tagline, phone numbers, twitter etc.
It also has been proven by lots of comparative research that you will get a lot more people buying from you if you include a portrait of yourself in the email. (It’s about building trust!)
6. Avoid the spam folder
To be honest you can’t entirely avoid this (as it often depends on the receiver’s settings), but there are a couple of things that can help you.
Don’t use capital letters or exclamation marks in your subject line, and also avoid words such as ‘free’, ‘special offer’, ‘sexy’ etc.
The email marketing programme will probably give you a spam ranking that can help you to minimise the likelihood of ending up in the spam folder.
7. Your subject line is crucial: delete or open?
Use a good headline in your subject line to increase the likelihood dramatically of recipients actually opening your email.
Keep it short, make it personal, make it relevant to your clients and audience.
‘Newsletter Summer 2014’ is boring! Ask questions, add a bit of intrigue!
If you want to learn how to write good headlines that get opened then check out Copyblogger and our Business Club members can watch this webinar with Tamsin Fox – Davies on Enewsletter tips & tricks.
8. How to make sure that my email gets read?
You can only maximise the opportunities, but there are a couple of things that can help:
- Use a nice, short inviting subject line
- Send your email at a time when it’s more likely that your email will be read (see below)
- Send your emails regularly (e.g. monthly) or timely (e.g. before Valentine’s Day or Christmas) so that people are more likely to be looking for gifts or your products.
- Think more ‘personal’ and ‘invitation to’ then ‘buy from me now now now!) – people like getting invitations, but they don’t like being sold to! If you overdo it then you will get lots of people dropping off your list.
9. Make it visual
Keep the text of your email fairly short and to the point. Use headers and bullet points to make it more appealing to read.
Use plenty of images, and limit the amount of texts.
10. Drive traffic to your website
Newsletters and emails can be one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your website. Instead of wasting loads of time and effort utilise pictures and texts for various social media. If you have written a great blog post then let people know about it. If you just have launched a new product or collection then tweet about it, and send an email.
You can include clickable links to your website or to specific pages on your website or others.
11. Your timing is essential
Don’t put all this effort in and then get it wrong by sending your email at the wrong time.
Recently I worked with a client who had worked for months on her website. She was really keen to let everybody know, so she sent the email to announce her new site on a Friday at 5pm …
That’s totally wasting all your time and effort!
I suggest that you send your email just before lunch time during a midweek day. The software will enable you to send the email exactly at the time you want it to go (so you can prepare a series of emails in advance if you are busy with a launch or if you want to continue being in touch while away on holiday!).
There is even software that can help you to determine the exact times for you that are the most likely times that people open emails!
HELP! Where do I learn all these things?!
You can learn how to do all these things (and much more!) through the tutorials of the email marketing programmes themselves. They provide step-by-step videos on ‘how to do’ any of these, as well as FAQ tutorials, or you can contact them directly. Have some fun learning how it works, but don’t go overboard!
How to make the most of email marketing?
After you have send your email you can check out the statistical information and find out exactly how many people opened your email, which clickable links they clicked on, what time they opened them etc. You can even send a follow up email specifically to people who opened a particular link for example.
I would strongly suggest that you add a registration box for your database on your website home page. Check out the tutorials of your email marketing provider. It’s not that difficult to do, but you might need to ask a web designer or developer to help you with this. Really worthwhile investment if you are serious about promoting yourself regularly to your clients and contact.
Sending regular invites or updates about new exhibitions, collections, new clients or projects is really one of the most important, effective, and low-cost marketing techniques you can use. Stay in touch with people regularly in a friendly way.
And don’t forget the snail mail!
Don’t just rely on email! Emails can be very useful and cost-effective as a marketing and communication tool, but one of the most powerful marketing methods is to actually send a personal letter, post card or invite to a small selected group of your clients.
I recently got two hand-written cards from designers to invite me to their show during London Design Festival – and I made the effort … because they had done so to by sending me a personal invite.
Sending a personal birthday card, Christmas card or just a ‘Thank You’ card to clients is extremely effective if done genuinely.
Just think about when was the last time you got something nice in the post?! You are probably more likely to remember that, then the last email you got!
The small print: you must comply with the Data Protection Act!
The DPA governs the use of personal information by businesses and other organisations. If you use personal information, such as client’s names and addresses, then you will need to comply with the Act.
The Act states, for example, how businesses need to store and process personal information, and if a client or somebody else has a complaint about excessive use of data (e.g. spam) than this is where they can find your records.
Even as a very small business, if you store personal data or keep a database then it is very likely that you will need to register your business with the Information Commissioner’s Office and pay a (small!) annual renewal fee.
Make sure you are compliant as it is a legal offense if you don’t.