There was a time not too long ago when email started to seem passé. But all of that went out the door when fantastic technology companies recently started popping up and began conducting wildly successful email marketing campaigns as the foundation of their business growth. People have started truly relying on their email more than ever before often checking it periodically throughout the day. Now that there is a captive audience, here are some tips for home improvement contractors on creating an email marketing program for your contracting business.
Use an Email Marketing Service
If you don’t already have a system in place for conducting a marketing email campaign with elegant graphics and integrated analytics, I would suggest using MailChimp. It’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers a month, easy to use and offers lots of nice features like social media tracking, an iPhone app, and beautiful design templates.
By using MailChimp you can easily manage your campaigns by tracking who opened and clicked, how many times your email was forwarded, overall return on investment (ROI) and more. It’s hard to beat free. And it’s easy to use for the most technophobic contractors.
Build an Email List of Homeowners
Now that you have set up a way to deliver your messages to the masses, how do you go about compiling a list of emails to include? Firstly, everyone is a potential customer. So consider starting with a list of homeowners who have contacted you about a home improvement project. Add to that any past homeowners who have hired you and also any homeowners to whom you gave a free estimate. Also, gather all emails you’ve received through your website’s contact form. Don’t forget to include any leads you received from CraftJack in the past.
You’ve got a good listed started but there is one more step that is important to your companies reputation, and that’s permission. Your first email to your newly compiled list should be the announcement of your new occasional email updates giving them the opportunity to opt out. Consider including an incentive for staying with you, noting periodic coupons to anyone who receives your emails.
Ok, now this part is important. You can’t start mass emailing all of these people newsletters because that would be spam. Again, send them a ONE-TIME email asking them to opt in to your newsletter. Once they opt-in you can continue to mail them updates.
Also, be sure to add an opt-in checkbox to your contact and estimate request forms (something like “subscribe to our newsletter for a special promotion.”)
Send at the Right Time
For best results, it’s important that you’re sending your emails at the right time. Send them at the wrong moment, and you risk being sent to the trash folder without second thought.
Research shows that the best days to send are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Two o’clock in the afternoon seems to be a sweet spot time-wise. So just remember: mid-week, mid-day!
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to be sitting at your computer waiting to hit send. You can easily schedule your emails to be sent at a designated time with services like MailChimp. Even basic email accounts through Google allow you to schedule your messages to be sent at a later time.
Optimize for Mobile Devices
Mobile opens account for nearly 50% of all email opens. This means that your emails need to be optimized for mobile devices like smart phones. Some easy ways to do this include:
- Utilize a one-column template
- Make the call-of-action obvious
- Bump up your font size
If you’re curious as to mobile-friendliness of your emails, send yourself a test and adjust as necessary before sending it out to your leads.
Content is Key
When crafting an email you hope many will read, good quality content is the number one factor to consider. Quality over quantity should always be a rule you live by. Better to have a brief message where every word is pure gold, than to go on and on in detail about things that might lead a recipient to trash the email before reading because of the lengthy content. Brevity is all too often an oversight these days with the advent of digital blogging and self proclaimed social media gurus. Think about how often you delete emails without reading them based on the amount of content. A good rule of thumb to live by is that if you have to scroll the window down twice, it’s too long.
Keep in mind how often you email as well. A good number to stick to is 1-2 times a month. Give your audience a reason to read your emails. Good graphics and photos from recently competed jobs go a long away in making a positive impression and will demonstrate your skills first hand. Other links you might include are to your online blog, your company website, Facebook page, YouTube videos and information on your referral program.
Show ’em what you’ve got. You’ve worked hard for it.
(Flickr photo by ahappyjaffee)