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Email Marketing Basics

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    Using MailChimp with Drupal 7
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    Email Marketing Basics Series Sponsored by MailChimp
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    Before we go ahead and hit Send on our first campaign,
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    I think it's important to talk a little bit about email marketing best practices—
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    or some of the basics.
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    Now, I'm by no means an email marketing expert,
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    so if you are, and you probably already know this stuff,
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    feel free to skip ahead to the next tutorial
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    where we will hit Send on our first campaign.
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    However, if you're new to email marketing,
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    here's a couple of things that I think are important to keep in mind.
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    In this tutorial, I'm going to talk about
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    some email marketing basics, including doing things like making a plan,
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    and getting to know your audience before you click Send.
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    Some tips to keep in mind when you're crafting your emails
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    and creating your mailing list in order to help prevent from being
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    flagged as a spammer,
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    some additional things that you might want to do
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    before you click Send, like proofreading, for example.
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    And finally, once you have sent out your first campaign,
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    or any successive campaigns,
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    how do you know whether or not that campaign was successful?
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    So, the first thing that you're going to want to do
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    maybe even before you start creating a mailing list,
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    but definitely before you hit Send on your first campaign, is make a plan.
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    Who is your audience?
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    Define your audience, and who you intend to send this email to.
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    Knowing who this audience is will inform
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    everything else about what you do;
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    the design of your email, the content, you name it.
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    If you can't tell me who your audience is,
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    honestly, I'm going to argue you probably don't need to have an email campaign in the first place.
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    Once you've defined your audience, take some time to figure out
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    what it is you want to say to them. Are you marketing a product to them?
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    Do you want to inform them about things that are going on in your store?
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    Are you just keeping them up to date
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    with the latest happenings in some news or context, maybe the Drupal weekly newsletter
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    or the Drupalize.Me newsletter, for example, which alerts people to new content
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    on our site on a weekly basis.
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    Figure out what it is you're going to tell people
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    and why you're telling them that.
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    Related to figuring out what you want to say to people
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    and why you're sending them an email,
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    when you do decide to send an email,
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    make sure you make it worthwhile.
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    Here's the deal: everybody gets a lot of email in their inbox on a daily basis already.
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    If you want them to read your email and not just skip over it,
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    and eventually unsubscribe from your mailing list,
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    make sure that you're sending to the right people by defining your audience,
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    and once you've done that, make sure that what you send them is worthwhile for them.
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    One tip that I have heard and I like is,
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    treat the people that are subscribed to your mailing list like VIPs.
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    Give them access to special benefits on your site,
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    let them know about things first, make it worthwhile for them
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    to be a member of your mailing list.
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    Keep your emails short and sweet.
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    Also related to that fact that everyone gets a lot of email already.
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    Nobody wants to get one more really long newsletter
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    that maybe is targeted to them or maybe not,
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    and the information might be worthwhile, and then it's really long and you have
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    to read through the whole thing to find out.
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    Keep it to the point. Make it so that people can scan and find the information that they're looking for.
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    Or risk your email getting deleted or even worse yet, people unsubscribing.
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    Finally, once you've been able to define your audience,
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    one of the things you might want to think about
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    is determining what time of day is the best to send an email to them,
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    and how often you might want to be in contact.
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    You want to send things often enough that they don't forget about you.
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    But you also don't want to send them so often that it's annoying.
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    Of course, frequency is going to depend on what it is you're communicating.
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    If you're an ice cream store and you're sending people flavor of the day updates,
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    they're going to want to hear about those daily.
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    But if you're something like maybe Drupalize.Me
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    where you're only releasing new content on a weekly basis at this time,
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    maybe it makes more sense to just send that out once a week.
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    And once you know your audience and who is reading it,
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    when are they likely sitting at their computer?
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    When are they likely to read this? Wednesday afternoon, or Friday?
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    If you're sending them business-related information,
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    sending it on a work day in the morning might make more sense than
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    if you're sending them updates about happy hours in the town that they live in,
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    which might make more sense towards the end of the day on Friday
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    right before everybody gets ready to head out for happy hour.
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    Don't be a spammer.
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    These are some tips that you should keep in mind when you're sending out email campaigns
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    in order to make sure that people don't unsubscribe
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    or flag you as spam.
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    This is especially important in today's world
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    where we've got email clients like Gmail
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    which make it really easy for someone to just click the "this person is a spammer" button,
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    and if Gmail starts to flag you as spam,
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    not only is that one person going to not see your email anymore
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    because it's going to their junk,
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    but it's also going to start to impact other people's ability to see your email as well.
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    So, don't be a spammer.
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    One thing that you can do to help alleviate that problem
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    is to make sure that you get permission from people
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    before you send someone an email.
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    Now, where this comes into play most likely
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    is if you've already got a list of email addresses.
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    Before you just import them into your MailChimp mailing list,
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    make sure you know that the people that you're about to send something to
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    want to hear from you.
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    In the case of people signing up for your mailing list,
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    if you're allowing them to opt in, or if there's an option for them to opt out, even,
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    they're having to perform the task
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    of signing up for the mailing list, so they know that they've done so.
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    Basically, you just don't want to send unsolicited email to people
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    where you're more likely to be flagged as spam.
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    If you're going to put advertisements or sponsorship, or whatever the case may be
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    inside of your newsletter or your email campaigns,
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    make sure that the advertisements you're sending
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    are relevant to the people you are sending them to.
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    If it's not, you're drastically increasing your chances of being flagged as spam.
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    Another thing you can do, and actually, MailChimp helps with this a lot
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    by in some ways forcing you to do this is make it clear to people who you are.
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    Include as much information as you can
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    about yourself and your organization so that when someone's reading an email that you sent,
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    they see in the footer or in the header
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    somewhere, this came from Drupalize.Me.
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    This came from an actual business,
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    I remember who they are, I remember signing up for this list.
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    Make sure that it's clear who you are and why you're sending that email.
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    So those are some tips to make sure that you're less likely to get flagged as spam
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    when your email arrives in someone's inbox.
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    Once you've written the content for your email and you know who you're going to send it to,
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    here's a couple of other things you should make sure and do before you click that Send button.
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    First, send yourself a preview of the email.
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    Tools like MailChimp make it really easy
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    to send an actual email preview to yourself
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    so you can see what it's going to look like.
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    Once you've got that preview,
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    make sure you proofread it. In fact, I highly recommend having someone else proofread it as well, if possible.
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    Once you send an email out,
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    you can't edit it, you can't recall an email that you sent
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    and is in somebody's inbox now to fix a typo, or fix a link.
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    So make sure that you take the time to proofread
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    that content, and verify that all of the links are correct.
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    I have had a couple of occasions where I've received
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    email newsletters and go to click on a link and the link is broken, and it doesn't lead to anywhere.
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    And this is problematic, because there is no way for the person who sent it
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    to go back and fix that problem.
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    So try to avoid making these mistakes by sending yourself a preview
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    and proofing everything before you click Send on your campaign.
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    Once the campaign's been sent
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    and delivered, and people start reading it
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    and interacting with the material that you sent them,
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    how do you know whether or not your campaign was successful?
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    MailChimp makes this easier to try to figure out.
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    They provide a lot of statistics and analytical data that allows us
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    to measure the performance of an entire mailing list or an individual campaign.
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    Some of the things to keep in mind are click-throughs.
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    When you send links in an email, do people follow those links back to your site?
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    Which ones do they follow, and how long after you send it do you keep getting clicks from that email?
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    What trends does this reveal about your subscribers,
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    and how can you use this information to further refine your definition of audience?
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    You can also see your unsubscribe rate.
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    Watch for things like if your rate spikes after a specific campaign went out,
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    so all of a sudden you have a lot of unsubscribers.
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    Consider if it has something to do with the content you sent.
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    Is there anything that you can do to
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    mitigate this in the future.
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    You can measure bounces,
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    which allows you to see sort of
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    how many bad email addresses you have in your list.
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    There's a couple of different kinds of bounces,
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    and MailChimp will measure both of these for you.
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    There is hard bounces which is really the ones that we're most interested in,
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    which is indication that the email address
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    doesn't exist anymore.
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    So if that email address doesn't exist and you get a bounce,
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    be proactive and remove them from your mailing list.
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    This will help reduce your chances of being marked as spam by systems like Gmail as well.
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    After you send an email campaign, do you get traffic spikes?
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    Similar to click-throughs, do you get a bunch of people
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    that are suddenly visiting the content that you emailed them about?
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    If you do, that's a really good indicator that you are sending the right content.
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    If you get a lot of people opening the email
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    and then following the links through to your website,
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    at which point you get traffic spikes, that's a good thing.
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    Another thing you can do by looking at your website's analytics
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    is get a sense of what time of day
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    people might be interested in reading your email.
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    Did they open the email and then follow the links all around a specific time of day?
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    Spikes will indicate that.
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    So as a quick recap,
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    before you hit Send on that first email campaign,
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    or any of them that you send, really,
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    take the time to make sure you make a plan.
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    Write it down, who's your audience? What are you sending them and why are you sending it to them?
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    Make the effort to make sure that you do everything you can
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    to make sure you're not flagged as being a spammer or junk email.
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    The more frequently that you're flagged as a spammer,
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    the more likely this is going to affect other people on your mailing list as well.
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    Email can't be edited once it's sent.
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    So take the time to review the email before you send it.
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    Send yourself a proof, have people proofread it for you,
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    and especially make sure all of your links work.
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    Finally, after you've sent an email campaign
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    and a week's gone by or a few days have gone by,
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    use the analytics that tools like MailChimp provide you
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    in order to measure success and improve the content of your email over time.
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    If you keep those things in mind, once you're ready to click Send,
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    it'll really help to make sure that you're sending people the right content
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    and you're sending the content to the right people,
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    which is going to increase your chances of success.

Email Marketing Basics

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Before you start sending email newsletters to your mailing list, it's a good idea to have a plan, set some goals, and understand what you're trying to accomplish. In this tutorial, you'll get a quick primer on email marketing and the things you can do to ensure your campaigns are successful.

I’m not an email marketing expert by any stretch of the imagination. But there are lots of suggestions in here that will help you further your own research into creating successful campaigns, as well as some good ideas about where to start. If you’ve never planned an email marketing campaign, then this tutorial is for you. If you’re an experienced veteran, there may be some good refreshers in here. You can also skip ahead to the next tutorial and start sending emails.

Further your learning

  • List three things you should do as part of the copy editing/review process every time you send a campaign.
  • What are some things you can do to prevent your emails from being labeled as SPAM?
  • Further exploration: Write a draft set of guidelines for you or your team to follow when preparing to send a new email marketing campaign.

Series Sponsored by MailChimp

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