By Erin Myers, OutboundEngine
Who’s handling your email marketing? If you’re a business owner and you mentally raised a hand when asked that question, this post is for you.
Your time is everything, and an extra hour in your day means an additional 20 hours each month, assuming you keep a five-day workweek. It's estimated that one hour of a small-business owner's time is valued at $273. That means if you win back an hour a day by outsourcing tasks like email and social media marketing, you keep $5,460-worth of your valuable time each month.
Could you use an extra 20 hours in your month to get some things accomplished? Maybe even take some time for yourself? We thought so. And that’s the goal of this post – to give you some simple tools to significantly reduce the time you spend managing your small business's email marketing.
If you're handling your own email marketing, then you already know that the four biggest time-sucks are…
- Planning a calendar.
- Coordinating sends.
- Writing engaging content.
- Sourcing images.
And to market effectively, you have to do these things. Let's focus on tools that will save you time on your email marketing.
1. Planning a Calendar
Draft your email marketing plan a couple months early so you're not feeling pressure to throw something together when it's time to send. Having your email sends prepared one month in advance is a solid, achievable goal to aim for.
So where to begin? First grab a calendar and decide on your send dates. What's reasonable for you: once a week, every other week, or even once a month? Mark your send dates down and make the time to draft your emails in advance.
2. Coordinating Sends
Remember that you want your emails to go out regularly, but not so often that it overwhelms your contact list. For example, six per week is overboard. Not only will you burn out, but you also risk irritating your customers. And then there's the other side of the spectrum – five per year will make you forgettable. OutboundEngine sends emails twice monthly; we find this to be the ideal schedule to deliver the best results to our customers.
If you finish the drafts in advance, you can schedule them to send automatically at a future date. Boomerang is a handy Gmail extension that allows you to schedule an email to send at the time you choose.
After you have a calendar mapped out, it’s time to start thinking about what kind of content to put in those emails.
3. Writing Engaging Content
Do you ever sit down to write an email newsletter and come up blank?
It happens to the best of us. In fact, a majority of marketers do not have enough time to produce the amount of engaging content they need to fill their email marketing and blog deadlines. Coming up with a consistent flow of ideas can be a true struggle.
Or maybe you're one of those people with an overflow of ideas but no time to execute them. If any of these are true for you, hiring a third party to write your content could save you a lot of time spent staring at that dreaded blank screen.
When it comes to outsourcing your content, you have some options. Services like Contently and Scripted will work with you to identify your target audience, generate ideas, and write content for you for a price. To determine how much that cost will be, you’ll have to speak to one of their content strategists on a phone call.
OutboundEngine spends a good chunk of its days creating custom content for the email newsletter campaigns for clients. We also manage and execute everything from planning and scheduling to distribution and analytics that measure the success of each campaign.
If you're set on doing it yourself but just need some inspiration, the following tools will help get your creativity flowing.
Blog Content Generator will help you brainstorm by playing a game of keyword Mad Libs with the topics you want to write about. Entering “real estate,” “winter,” and “homes” got the following results:
Buzzsumo is a fantastic tool to see which topics related to your business get the most attention.
Searching “insurance” on Buzzsumo yields a bunch of search results for highly shared articles related to the insurance industry. You can get some ideas there. And after you have some great ideas, it's time to find equally great images to complement them.
4. Sourcing Images
Finding (or taking) a professional quality photo that captures the essence of your email content can be pretty tricky. But it doesn’t have to be. Today there are plenty of third-party image sourcing sites to search and pull images from. And as an added bonus, a lot of them are free.
Find a site that's easily searchable so you can check out your options and download the photo you're looking for without spending too much time. You can find images relevant to your business by searching for specific keywords related to the topic you’re emailing about.
Here are a few sites you can use:
- Dreamstime has a free searchable section that's updated often. To access the photos, you're required to create a free account.
- Free Images hosts thousands of, well, free images searchable by category. There is a sign-up process to access the images, but there's a huge gallery to choose from.
- Free Range Stock requires a free registration. In return you’ll have access to their free high-quality, high-resolution stock photos.
Of course, there are dozens of sites and options out there, but because these three are free for commercial use with large searchable galleries, they will be useful for a small-business owner.
An email marketing campaign has many moving pieces and requires even more attention to detail. Use some of these time-saving tools to make your life easier. Alternatively, consider outsourcing your email marketing entirely. Email automation builds customer relationships by combining the power of consumer data, great content, and software. It allows you to have continued presence in your clients and prospects’ inboxes without having to do all of the work yourself. We handle all of these things (and more) for our customers so they can focus on doing what they do best: running their business.
About the Author
Erin Myers is the content marketing manager at OutboundEngine. She's passionate about tracking the latest trends in social media and marketing to help business owners build relationships and reach new customers online.