by Allison Hester, Editor of Pressure Cleaning Contractor Magazine
Email marketing is an inexpensive way for contract cleaners to reach current clients and potential customers.
With the growth of smart phones, customers no longer have to be in front of their computers to get your messages. In fact, 70 percent (or more) of smart phone users check their email throughout the day on their phones.
With the growth of email marketing services such as Constant Contact (which is what I use) and Mail Chimp, email marketing is a fairly easy and inexpensive option. In fact, research shows that email marketing can cost 20 times less than a direct mail campaign with the same results.
For instance, Constant Contact (www.constantcontact.com) has a free 60-day trial, assuming your list is 100 names or less. The price varies based on the number of names you have in your lists, but it’s still reasonable. Here at PCC we pay $50 per month to mail to our list of around 5,000 names. And we can send as many emails as we want each month.
Additionally, these programs allow you to:
- Create easy-to-use templates
- Build and reinforce brand identity
- Manage multiple lists
- Track results – helping your figure out what works and what doesn’t
- Obey the SPAM laws
Start with Your List to Avoid Spam Reports
Nobody likes SPAM. However, email marketing is not SPAM. It is delivering a message to an interested audience and providing them with information they deem valuable.
SPAM is actually against the law. It takes as little as two spam reports per 1000 emails to get in trouble with the search engines, so it’s imperative that you build your list wisely. Also, using email marketing services can actually reduce your SPAM reports because they are generally allowed by search engines.
Building a list begins by gathering names with every potential customer you come into contact with. When building a list, keep these things in mind:
- Are you asking for their permission as well as their contact information?
- Are you clearly describing your email frequency and content?
- Are you sending a welcome or confirmation email?
- Are you using permission and subscription reminders to stay current?
TIP: When collecting email information from customers, offer something in exchange – e.g., a discount – but make it available on their NEXT purchase.
Of course, if you’re looking for new contacts, you may need to use purchased lists, donated lists or build your own lists from data you gather on your own. Just keep in mind you are more likely to be seen as SPAM when you use unsolicited email addresses. Make sure you provide an opt-out/unsubscribe option in your emails (again, it’s a simple button to click when creating through an email marketing service, and it’s the law!)
Then, make your message valuable!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Before we talk about how to write your email, I’ve got to take a moment and talk about photos. Photos are powerful in the pressure cleaning industry. However, the default setting for email programs blocks photos and graphics, requiring readers to click to view the photos. DO NOT send a message that is primarily graphics and photos, especially without a caption, and don’t make your photos too big. Include captions so your readers will want to see the photos.
Now on to content. The ultimate goal of your email, of course, is to sell. However, experts recommend not only including promotions and sales material, but also information that doesn’t promote anything.
Potential email ideas include:
- Sharing your expertise
- Using facts & testimonials
- Giving guidance and directions
- Offering discounts and coupons
- Offering VIP Status
- Holding contests and giveaways (check regulations before deciding to do this!)
When writing your email copy, make it easy to read and limit how much you write. Keep your emails concise. If you have larger amounts of information to share, put them on your website. Other suggestions include:
- Use bullets or summaries
- Link directly to the information
- Give instructions if necessary
- Try to fit the email on one sheet of paper when printed
Also, call your audience to take action. Tell them what to do. “Click here.” “Print this.” “Contact us.”
Finally, keep your subject line between 30 and 40 characters, and include the benefit to open the email right away. Also, to limit your chances of getting caught in the SPAM filters, there are certain subject line words to avoid. The ones most likely to be used by the pressure washing industry are included at the end of this article.
Also, email marketing programs let you run a spam check to see if there’s anything in your email that the spam filters may not like. Use it!
Testing Your Emails
I have been using Constant Contact for almost a year now. While it is fairly easy to learn, it can get a bit “wonky” at times – meaning it does some weird stuff. In a few instances, my preview of the emails looked fine, but when I sent them out, items had moved around or changed. I learned the hard way that you should ALWAYS send a test email to yourself before sending to the masses. Then proof that email carefully and test all the links as well.
One of the great things about email marketing programs is that you can track the results, sort of. The programs will tell you the number of opens as well as whom those opens are, when they were opened, and who clicked on which links. However, for various reasons, not all the opens and clicks will necessarily show up. Still this can significantly help you know who read your email, who clicked on what, and who you might want to follow up with using another sales tactic.
Another great thing about the tracking information is that you can test your emails. You can actually send two separate emails to two different groups and see if one gets more responses if you word it differently, or if you send it at a different time of the week. Only change one element each time though so you’ll have a better understanding of what appears to be working.
Market researchers have found that historically, emails tend to be read more when sent on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. This is not always the case, but it might be a good place to begin.
Finally, keep in mind that email marketing – just like any marketing program – can take some time before you begin seeing results. Marketing research shows that on average it takes seven “touches” to make a sale. Repeat customers spend 67 percent more than first-time customers, and after 10 purchases, repeat customers have already referred up to seven people. So be sure to focus your efforts on repeat customers as well as new customers.
As always, I am available by email to answer questions or offer suggestions about your company’s email marketing programs. My writing/design services are available as well for a very reasonable fee.
Subject Line Words to Avoid
$$$ 100% free Ad Affordable Amazing Cash bonus Cheap Compare rates Compete for your business Free Free gift Free info Free leads Free offer Free preview Guarantee
Increase sales Increase traffic Incredible deal Info you requested Information you requested Limited time offer No investment Obligation Opportunity Order Now Prices Promise you Save $ Search engine listings Thousands Unsubscribe