Maybe you think email marketing is just for online businesses that ship products to customers. The truth is that email marketing, or if the word “marketing” makes you squeamish, email “communications,” when done right, can make a huge difference in your business. If you’re reading this, whether you’re a buyer, supplier, or re-wholesaler there are benefits to keeping in touch with your customers this way, the biggest of which is that you’ll remain top of mind when they need more plants, help with a project, or a landscape designed for their new house. Here are the basics of creating an email program.
Select an email service provider (ESP)
Your ESP is the program that will collect email addresses for you and through which you’ll send emails to hundreds of contacts at a time. No more bulk bcc’ing through your outlook or your gmail account (which isn’t effective, efficient, or desired by “office” type email programs). You can build one email and send it to different groups or segments at one time. The ESP will also help you manage your list by allowing your contacts to unsubscribe with one click if they don’t want to be on the list. The least expensive, easiest to use ESP is MailChimp. Constant Contact is another popular choice. Choose one and sign up.
Set up your ESP
Don’t be scared of this part! All ESPs have great tutorials to explain how to set them up. At a minimum you will:
- Change the text on your signup form page and confirmation email.
- Customize one of the email templates with your company logo and colors
- Add your postal mailing address to the account (to comply with federal CAN-SPAM laws
- Upload email addresses of customers or clients you’ve emailed within the last year.
Add opt-in forms to website & social media
You can grow your email list by asking clients if you may add them to your list (opt in to your list). You’ll also want to add an opt-in form to your website. Common locations for email signup forms are the footer and the sidebar. If you’re really serious about your program you will add it to your homepage somewhere prominent. Always include the following information with your opt in form:
- Type of information you send
- Frequency you’ll email
Build your editorial calendar
The key to a successful email program is consistency. To stay consistent, build a calendar with the date of the email send, topic of email, and some notes about what you want to include. Then, mark your calendar to batch produce emails and leave them in draft for last minute additions, or mark your calendar to work on emails a week before they’re scheduled to send. What do you want to write about? Keep in mind that your main objective is to solve customer problems. Help them save money or time (with your products and services) or improve their lives (with your designs and installations, tips and tools).
Here are some good topics for our industry:
- Availability lists
- Design tips
- New plants/ good-looking plants
- Plants to solve specific customer problems
- Custom order information
- New product or hardscape features/products
- How-to content
Always include a CTA (call to action). Suppliers, you can encourage buyers to check out your offerings on LandscapeHub. Buyers, ask your clients to reply with questions about their landscapes.
Build your first email and send it!
These are the parts of your emails that you’ll need to customize:
- From line & Email Address: Customers should recognize this as you. You should have an email@example.com to send email from. You’ll set this once for your list/account.
- Subject line: The headline for your email. It should be provocative to get people to click and open it, but it also needs to be relevant to the content inside the email.
- Pre-header text: This text shows up in the email box and should give a sneak peek at what is inside.
- View in Browser Link: So they can share it online or see it if their email program is messing things up.
- Header Image: Make this your logo and link it to your website.
- Body: The main email content
- Footer: The bottom of the email, which has several components.Social Share links: So people can share the email in their Facebook or Twitter feeds.
- Unsubscribe link: Required to comply with CAN-SPAM laws and usually provided by the email service provider.
- Reminder: Brief bit of text reminding people how they ended up on your email list. This is automatically inserted, but you can usually edit it.
- Postal Mailing Address: Required to comply with CAN-SPAM laws.
Create a maximum of three to four content blocks for your emails. You don’t need fancy graphics. In fact, it’s better to build your email from pictures and text because text on graphics doesn’t scale well on mobile, and can become really tiny when people are reading emails on their phones. Use buttons to encourage readers to click through to your website or the LandscapeHub website to browse.Always send yourself a test of the email and click through all of the links before you send the email to your whole list.
Your email list is your “bank”
It is worth it to take the time to develop an email program and to build your list because emails will constantly push people toward your products and services on a schedule that your customers have agreed to. They opted in that they wanted to hear from you, so they’ll be much more receptive to your message. It’s a great way to efficiently keep everyone informed about new products and services and to ask for business. Once you start a program, you’ll wonder how you lived without it!