As a marketer, you no doubt have heard of email marketing. You may even have used it yourself to good effect. If you’re curious about trying out a similar strategy but with snail mail, then this article is for you.
What is Email Marketing & How Does it Work?
Put yourself in your subscriber’s shoes for a moment. What exactly would you be interested in receiving from an email marketing campaign? The answer may vary from informative blog posts to discounts or product information. When designing your strategy, consider your target audience and the kind of content they find valuable. If you can’t think of any specific interest groups or demographics, consider broadening your horizons. That way you’ll have a greater chance of reaching someone.
Now, let’s rewind the clock to a few years back when marketing emails were only accessible to AOL users. In 2010, Gmail introduced a feature known as mail merge. With this feature, you can combine email addresses from one list into a single message, thus saving you the effort of having to craft individual emails to each subscriber. You can use this same feature to send a single email to your entire list, which is then distributed to each recipient by an auto-responder. Essentially, with mail merge, you’re allowing your IT department to handle the heavy lifting for you.
Does This Mean I Can’t Use My Existing Lists?
Many marketers have put in the hard work to build valuable lists of qualified email subscribers. These lists typically contain names and email addresses of people who have demonstrated an interest in the products or services you offer. While you don’t have to throw away your valuable list of contacts, you do need to prepare for the fact that you may not get the response you want when you send your mass email.
If you can’t afford to lose subscribers due to bad email marketing, then don’t be afraid to try a new approach. As we’ve established, the success of your campaign depends on a number of key factors, one of which is the quality of the list you use. If you want to improve your odds of success, then you must first consider the makeup of your list.
The Pros & Cons of Using Mail Merge
One of the primary reasons you should consider using mail merge is the ease with which it can be implemented. You don’t necessarily need a large marketing team to get the job done. The downsides are minimal, at least from an organizational standpoint. You need to be aware that if one person on your list decides to opt-out, then you may not receive some of the emails you distribute. Also, you need to be sure that your email software of choice has this feature, as many commercial email services don’t. Finally, you can’t use this feature if you use a third-party email marketing provider, as they typically disable this functionality.
How Do I Use Mail Merge?
Since we already covered the basics of mail merge, let’s dive into how to actually use it. The first step is to log into your email account and find the message you want to use as a template. This could be a general announcement or a pitch for a specific product. If you can’t find the exact one you want, use the search bar to your advantage. You can type in terms you think might produce the results you’re looking for and find the perfect message without having to wade through a lot of garbage.
Once you located the perfect message, read it through to verify that it’s indeed what you’re looking for. Take note of any changes you might need to make to make the message more compelling. Depending on how large your email list is, you may need to make some minor tweaks. Once you’re satisfied with the content of your message, click the gear button located at the top right corner of the screen. This will bring up a menu with several options, one of which is “Edit”. Choose “Edit” and a small window will open next to your text. From here, you can select which parts you want to use and how you want to use them. You can add a picture, add a video or just copy and paste your text directly into the message. Once you made your selection, click “Save” at the top right corner of the window. This will save your template so you can continue using it in the future.
For this example, we’re going to use the General Motors website to create our email. If you’re not familiar, the General Motors website is a marketplace where you can buy or sell virtually any car. Since we’re interested in email marketing, let’s click on the “Contact Us” tab at the top of the page. Here, we’ll see a variety of ways to contact the company. One of the options is email, so we’ll click on that and get sent to a form asking us to enter our email address. If we want to use mail merge to send an email to our list of subscribers, we need to start by inputting our own email address into the “To” field. Once we hit “Send”, we’ll see whether or not our email was processed successfully. If you get a strange message from Gmail telling you that the email address is invalid, use a different email address. When you use the same one over and over again, the system may think it’s a spammer and block your email. Don’t worry too much about getting blocked. Instead, enter a new email address and try sending the campaign again. Once we verified that our email address was indeed valid, we could click on the “Get Started” button at the bottom right corner of the page. This will take us to a login page for Google+. Since we aren’t logged in, let’s click on the “SIGN UP” button at the top right corner of the page. When we signed up with Google+, we gained access to a variety of tools. One of those tools is called “My Businesses”. This is where we can access all of the data associated with our Google+ profile, including our email addresses. Let’s click on the “+” next to our email address and see the various places we can integrate our email marketing campaign with Google+.
Since we’re interested in marketing for General Motors, let’s click on the “Create Content Marketing Plan” button at the top of the page. This will take us to a page with lots of useful information. We can add a new project, choose a template and customize it with our own text and a few pictures. Once we hit “Save” at the top right corner of the page, we’ll be brought back to our dashboard. Let’s navigate to “Marketing Tools” and under the heading “Campaigns”, we’ll see a tab labeled “Email Marketing”. Here, we can choose the template we just made and start adding our own addresses. We don’t need the entire list, so let’s keep it at 500. If we want to send this email to our entire list of subscribers, we’ll click on the “Add More” button at the bottom of the page and get a drop-down menu with lots of email addresses. Simply copy and paste your email addresses into the space provided and when you’re happy with the list, click “Send”.
When our email was sent to our list of subscribers, we needed to verify whether or not they actually received it. Luckily, we have a few tricks up our sleeve. One of those tricks is called “List View” and is accessible by clicking on the “i” next to “Email Marketing” in our dashboard.
If we click on the “i” next to our email marketing campaign, we’ll see a list of all the emails we sent out. To the left, we have the option to click on a particular email and get more information about that particular email. For example, if we click on the email marked “1”, we’ll see a copy of the email along with the date it was sent and the number of clicks this particular email received. Since we used mail merge to send this email, we can see that it was actually sent to 500 subscribers and only received 22 clicks.