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A marketing strategy will help you identify your best customers, understand their needs and implement the most effective marketing methods.

The internet has transformed business marketing. No matter what you do, the internet is likely to be at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Social media is firmly established as a marketing tool. Having a presence opens up new lines of communication with existing and potential customers.

Good advertising puts the right marketing message in front of the right people at the right time, raising awareness of your business.

Customer care is at the heart of all successful companies. It can help you develop customer loyalty and improve relationships with your customers.

Sales bring in the money that enables your business to survive and grow. Your sales strategy will be driven by your sales objectives.

Market research exists to guide your business decisions by giving you insight into your market, competitors, products, marketing and your customers.

Direct marketing can be a highly successful way to generate sales from existing and new customers. Find out how to target them in the best way.

Exhibitions and events are valuable for businesses because they allow face-to-face communication and offer opportunities for networking.

PR

Favourable media coverage can bring a range of business benefits. But how do you attract the attention of editors, broadcasters and journalists?

Building an email marketing list - checklist

A quality in-house email-marketing list is essential if you contact customers via email. But how do you put such a list together? Tim Watson outlines the steps to take when building an email marketing list.

  • Quantify the value of an email address. If you identify how much an email address is worth to your business, you can set a budget for increasing the size of your database.
  • Set objectives for building an email marketing list. Be selective: what sort of people do you want on your list? How many of them? When do you need your marketing list to be ready? Think about quality, not just quantity - a large list of the wrong people is of no value. A smaller amount of well-targeted data is of higher value.
  • Never miss a chance to get customers to sign up. Think of every point where you have contact with a customer and how you can add a request for email permission into the process. Customer touch points include all contact by sales personnel, telesales, transactional emails, your website home page, the online transaction process, in-store flyers, till receipts, exhibitions, printed correspondence, training events, conferences, direct mail, user groups, blog postings, social networking contact pages, and your corporate standard email signature or footer.
  • Remember that more stringent data protection laws come into force in May 2018. Maintaining quality records and being sure to always get explicit opt-in to marketing communications, starting now, will help your business comply in full.
  • Educate all client-facing staff on the purpose and value of email address collection. This is especially necessary for staff involved in data inputting processes, as they need to understand the value and need for accuracy. An email address mistyped is a lost opportunity.
  • Ensure the 'Subscribe' form on your home page is easy to find. Don't stick it down in the bottom right where nobody looks. Better still, include a subscription form on many or all pages, not just your home page.
  • Ask for the minimum of information at the time of sign up. Consider asking just for the email address on a first stage form, and once this is given go on to ask for a few more details. But still keep it short and avoid asking for sensitive information. The strategy should be to collect more data over time as the relationship builds.
  • Explain the benefits of subscribing. Why sign up for your emails, as opposed to the thousands of others available? Explain what you will do with the email address (including how you'll process it in line with data protection rules), and give an indication of how often you will email. Consider offering user-selected email frequency - daily, weekly or monthly.
  • State your privacy policy clearly. Put it right next to the submit button on our subscription form. Make your policy one of not sharing or selling the data you collect.
  • Use incentives to encourage people to subscribe. Your mantra should be 'free, win or save'. This could be a report about your product, a special offer or a competition entry, for example. By making the incentive related to your product or service, it will improve the relevance of your subscribers. For example , if you run a competition to win the latest iPod, but your business sells antique furniture, you will get people subscribing who simply want the iPod and are not interested in becoming customers.
  • Don't trick people into giving you permission to email them. An example would be a form with linked terms and conditions in which the fifth paragraph states that by completing the form permission is being given to receive your regular emails. It may be legal currently (although that will change when the new data protection regulations come in), but it's not sensible or an effective way to build a quality list.
  • If you need sensitive information, explain why it's needed. If possible, use ways to reduce the level of sensitivity. Most people are more comfortable giving an age range than a date of birth, or a salary range rather than their actual salary.
  • Include a 'recommend a friend' process in your e-marketing. Offering an incentive to both the recommender and their friend will increase its use.
  • A viral campaign is an email campaign made up of a quick fun activity, such as an online game or other type of entertainment. They should always feature an easy way for someone to forward to a friend and spread the word.
  • Avoid third party data. This is typically of low quality and can harm your reputation and reduce the number of emails successfully delivered - and may not comply with data protection law.
  • Don't be aggressive when asking for permission to email. For example, don't use a pop-up window the moment someone hits your home page. People will need to read something about you before they will consider giving an email address.

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