How to Start An Email Marketing Campaign: A Guide for Contractors
Email Marketing: Getting Started
To successfully market your contracting business, you’ll need a solid understanding of email marketing basics. Email offers one of the most cost-effective, easy-to-manage, engaging marketing platforms available. From a business owner’s perspective, this means low risk and high ROI.
So what do you need to know about email marketing basics?
Building an Email Contact List
Marketing means nothing unless someone sees it. Building a solid email contact list provides a foundation for all future marketing efforts. As you build your list, it will fill with both existing and potential customers. Once you’ve learned how to create your email list, it’s time to create emails.
Creating engaging email content
Email content includes any written copy, as well as graphics or images displayed. This content allows you to grab your audience’s attention, maintain that attention, and ultimately convert them to or maintain them as customers. But how do you know if your content can accomplish this? Knowing what content to create stems from analyzing your data.
Analyzing email results
After sending out a few email marketing campaigns, you’ll collect data. How many people opened your email? Did anyone click through links in your email? The answers to these questions determine how effective your content is. Once you have this information, you can change your email content accordingly.
How to Build an Email List
To build an email list, you first need to consider your potential audience. Who will use your service? Who doesn’t use your service but could in the future? Who already used your service but could use it again? Listing out your audience and determining who they are will give you a jumpstart on all of your future marketing efforts.
Audiences have access to more information than ever before, which means they know what to expect when opting in to emails. You should deliver meaningful content that keeps them from unsubscribing. Consider what it would take for you to hand over your email address.
Email List Building: Current Customers
Start your list with current customers. These people already know who you are and have engaged with your service. This increases your odds of gaining permission to send them marketing emails. So how do you get them to join your email list? Just ask. When customers engage with your service, whether it’s on your website or in person, you want to ask them along the way if they’re interested in signing up for your emails.
When it comes to existing customers, you need to understand why they enjoy using your service. As a contractor, your customers might enjoy the free tips and tricks you provide them. In this case, you could offer them access to helpful information in exchange for their contact information. Maybe your customers simply prefer working with a local business owner. In this case, appeal to their desire for local support. Your message could say, “Sign up for our emails to continue supporting your local contractor.” It’s important to know why they enjoy working with you and include that messaging in the ask.
How to Create an Email List of Potential Customers
Potential customers require a little extra effort. After all, how likely are you to give your contact information to a stranger? You can entice potential customers to join your email list through incentives, signup forms, forwards from other customers, and more.
Incentives remain a popular email collection tool because they work. Whether you provide a discount on a customer’s first service or offer free tips, incentives exist to encourage a desired behavior. Incentives can convince “on-the-fence” customers to take just that one step closer to your service. Then, you can provide engaging, informative content that could convince them to actually purchase your product or service.
Directly encourage customers to join your email list with a signup form on your website. When a potential customer lands on your website, the form should appear. As they interact with your site and gain interest, the signup form lets them interact with your service without buying anything. This allows you to continue warming up these leads through engaging email content.
Use your existing contacts to build your email list as well. Simply include verbiage encouraging your contacts to forward your marketing emails to anyone with similar interests. Think of this approach as a modern take on word-of-mouth.
Use Your Website to Your Advantage
As mentioned above, a signup form on your website can generate contacts. However, your website can accomplish so much more than that. Perhaps you decide to use a downloadable PDF of your best tips and tricks as an incentive for email signups. This can exist as its own signup form on your website.
Just as the content of your emails matters, the content of your signup forms matters. Does one page of your website discuss pricing options? The content of the signup form on this page should coordinate with that language. For example, it could say, “Sign up for emails and learn about upcoming discounts.” If the content of the page discusses the services you provide, the signup form could say, “Sign up for emails to learn more about our contracting services.”
Keep in mind that you could have different signup forms on different pages. The rhetoric in your signup form should coordinate with the content on the web page. You might have a different signup form on each page of your website. Focus your content on staying relevant and adding value.
However you entice customers to signup for emails, you must always remain honest in your marketing tactics. If you promised a PDF, you need to deliver that PDF. If you promised emails with information about your services, you need to deliver informative emails. Not delivering on your promises typically results in unsubscribes or SPAM reports. Neither of these benefits your business.
How to Create High-Performing Email Content
You may pat yourself on the back for building a solid email marketing list, but then comes time to maintain it. Think of email signups the same way you would an in-store purchase. When a customer hands over their contact information, it holds value the same way money does. In this regard, you need to provide your customer with the item they intended to purchase. From an email signup perspective, the product is rich email content.
Create Relevant Content
Consider the last email list you unsubscribed from. Why did you unsubscribe? You most likely didn’t find the content relevant anymore. It all starts with the first email you send after a customer signs up. Whether you offered a discount or information about your service, you need to send out a welcome email.
Because the customer will expect this email right after signing up, you have an opportunity to really show what you have to offer. This email should contain a welcome message, your offer from the signup form, and extra information bragging about your service. You now have the chance to show off your business and create excitement.
Then, you’ll need to create an ongoing stream of email content for your audience. For a contracting business, reach out to your followers about once a month. You’ll stay top of mind without overwhelming their inboxes.
But what should the content in these monthly emails look like? Consider why your audience signed up in the first place. They didn’t sign up for you to sell to them in every email. They signed up to receive valuable information. You should use these emails to build a trusting relationship with your customers. By providing them with high-value information, such as tips and product reviews, your audience will view you as knowledgeable and trustworthy. Email provides the space to build rapport.
You should also consider your brand personality when creating email content. As a small business, use a personable, friendly approach in your marketing efforts. Use a conversational tone when writing emails. Also, show the face behind the email. Include your name in the emails. Audiences prefer engaging with emails coming from a real person.
Be Visually Engaging
The content of your emails should extend beyond the words you write. Email marketing includes designing emails that show off your brand logo, colors, and personality. The design helps your email become instantly recognizable even before the recipient begins to read. While you don’t need professional graphic designer skills to create visually appealing emails, you always need to consider what it looks like to the reader.
Always Use a CTA
Your CTA, or call to action, tells your audience what to do at the end of the email. While you don’t want to tell them to buy your product in every email, you should provide them with an action to take. If you provide a PDF download, your CTA could be, “Click here to download our top five home construction tips.” Maybe you provided them with DIY project instructions. In this case, your CTA could be, “Share photos of your project with us on social media.”
You simply want to provide your followers with something to do. The more they interact with your content, the stronger your relationship will become. As the rapport builds, you’ll move one step closer to converting them into customers who purchase your product or service.
Personalize Your Emails
Two significant components for email personalization exist. First, you can add your customer’s name to the content of the email, as well as the subject line. Doing so creates a more personal, friendly tone instead of a salesy one. You’ll increase your open and click-through rates by taking this easy extra step when writing email content.
Second, you can segment your audience. You likely want to provide different information to individual homeowners versus commercial business owners. Think about the ways your customers differentiate. Segment your audience based on these differences and send each group distinct email content that reflects what they find valuable. When you segment your audience, you create a streamlined process for sending relevant content.
Analyze Your Email Results
The more emails you send, the more data you’ll collect. You’ll analyze open rates, click through rates, spam reports, industry averages, and more. From this data, you’ll learn what your audience likes—and what they don’t like.
When a member of your audience opens an email you send, it increases your number of opens. The number of opens divided by how many emails you sent will provide you with the open rate. You want to tackle this data first because no matter what your email content looks like, none of it matters if the audience doesn’t open the email to view it.
So what influences your open rate? Subject lines make or break how many people open your marketing email. Subject lines should be short, direct, and give your audience a sneak peek of what the email contains. Take a look at your own inbox. Which emails catch your eye? Which emails do you want to open? Look at these subject lines and consider how you could create an equally catchy subject for your marketing emails.
Once you’ve sent a few emails out, you’ll have a collection of open rate data. Analyze which emails had the highest open rates. Take note of the subject lines attached to these high-open emails. Use them as a template for future subject lines. In the long term, this will help you continuously increase your open rate and reach more of your audience.
When a member of your audience clicks on a link within your email, it increases your number of clicks. The number of clicks divided by how many emails you sent will provide you with the click-through rate. This data tells you whether or not your audience enjoyed your content enough to take action.
So what influences click-through rate? Once a member of your audience opens your email, they’ll read the content you’ve written. If you followed the tips provided here, you included a CTA in your email. The content, combined with the CTA, has the goal of generating a click.
Concise, engaging, and relevant content creates clicks. While you learned about creating engaging and relevant content above, you also need to consider how much content you include in an email. The further down your audience scrolls, the less interested they become. Remember, a large portion of your audience views your emails on a cell phone. Provide as much interesting information as possible in as few words as possible.
You may find this difficult at first. As you gain experience creating marketing emails, analyze your click-through rate. Which emails generated the highest rate? Pay special attention to the length and subject matter of these emails. They represent the content your audience wants to engage with. Use these high performing emails as the template for future content, and your click-through rate should increase over time.
Spam reports represent the uglier side of email marketing. Some companies unethically send emails to audiences who didn’t sign up for marketing communications. For this reason, everyone has the option to report emails as spam. You can avoid spam reports by creating an email list of genuinely interested customers and only sending relevant content.
However, you can’t control how every audience member reacts to your content. When someone reports your emails as spam, it adds to your spam report. Pay attention to the subject lines you write. Ensure that you’re following best practices.
Consider a subject line that says, “SALE TODAY CLICK HERE TO SAVE $$$.” Using all caps, salesy language, and symbols will result in higher spam reports. Now, consider a subject line that says, “15% Off Customer Loyalty Sale.” In email marketing, you grab attention by adding value—not by being big and flashy.
Your bounce rate represents failed delivery, which means that you included an email address that never went to someone’s inbox. This failure shouldn’t present a big issue as long as you practice ethical email list-building. However, your audience may not have typed their email address correctly when opting in. You can avoid this by requiring email verification during the signup process.
While many factors can cause emails to bounce, you need to clean your email list to control your bounce rate. After sending out marketing emails, clean out the emails that bounced. You gain nothing from sending emails that won’t deliver. Keeping a clean recipient list allows you to generate the most accurate data possible.
As you collect data, you may wonder what it all means. You’ll have a list of percentages, but how do you know if they’re good or bad? Email marketing benchmarks exist as a whole and are based on industry. Once you have this data, compare it to your own. At first, your emails may not perform as well as you’d like. But having this information empowers you to implement the above-mentioned best practices. Over time, you’ll improve your email content and reach the goals you’ve set based on this data.
Tools for Email Marketing
At this point, you might wonder how you’ll manage all of these different components. The good news? A lot of affordable tools exist to help make email marketing a little easier. You want to utilize email software and a CRM (customer relationship management).
CRM simply refers to how you store and manage your list of contacts. Depending on what system you use, you’ll also have the ability to learn a lot about your customers. A CRM system will track what communications you’ve had with a customer, what purchases a customer has made with you, and what marketing pieces you’ve sent to them. Do you remember the audience segmentation we mentioned earlier? Your CRM can provide a lot of the information you’ll use to do this.
Many different brands of email software exist. Email software provides an easy-to-use platform for creating and sending professional, branded email content for small businesses. These programs track data based on your audience’s activity. Also, most email programs allow you to connect your social media profiles for convenient, cross-channel marketing campaigns.
What Is Constant Contact?
Constant Contact provides business owners with a simple approach to email marketing. Many similar programs exist, but as a small business, take action and simply begin using one. Constant Contact offers many features for enhancing your campaigns. While these can intimidate a beginner, start simple, and over time, you’ll find which features you’d like to learn more about.
How to Use Constant Contact
Once you’ve created an account with Constant Contact, you’ll be ready to upload your audience. Get that data uploaded, whether you use a CRM or simply have a spreadsheet with contact information. Now, you’re ready to send emails.
So what should you send? Remember, you want to add value to your audience’s inbox, not spam. What does your audience want to know? Have conversations with your employees. They can offer insights into your audience’s questions and concerns. After all, they interact with your customers more than anyone. Take advantage of the knowledge they gain from these conversations.
Once you’ve decided what content to include, you can build your email message inside Constant Contact. From there, you can schedule your email to deliver on a specific date at a particular time. While best practices for email send times exist, you want to keep track of what days and times work best for your specific audience. Again, you’ll want to keep track of this data.
Constant Contact also provides tools to prevent your business from violating spam laws. While you don’t need to do much to take advantage of this, you can rest easy knowing that Constant Contacts opt-in tools play a significant role in keeping your marketing on the right side of the law.
Constant Contact Tips and Tricks
Some features exist in Constant Contact that you’ll want to take advantage of. Imagine that you’ve sent an email, but it had a low open rate. Constant Contact provides a simple check box to “Resend to Non-Openers.” Take advantage of this, and you’ll learn even more about optimal email send times for your audience.
When choosing a day to send marketing emails, you’ll want to begin with general best practices. For days of the week, you should send on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Picture your own inbox. On Monday, you probably spend most of the day simply cleaning it out and looking for the super-important emails. You probably don’t pay much attention to marketing content. Then on Friday, you’re too focused on the weekend to pay attention to marketing emails in your inbox.
When choosing a send time for marketing emails, a few ideal times exist. You could send outside of typical business hours and focus on early mornings or late at night. Think of people looking at their phones as soon as they wake up or right before going to sleep at night. You should send around 6 a.m. or 8 p.m.
If you choose to send at an ideal time during the workday, you want to send at a less busy time. When first showing up at work, most people spend the first hour of their day cleaning out a full inbox. By the last hour of the workday, most people wrap up projects and focus on leaving for the day. You should send around 10 a.m. or 2 p.m.
You’ll also want to utilize Constant Contacts ability to link to your social media accounts. Once you schedule your email, Constant Contact can also send that same content to your social pages. This creates a cohesive message across all of your platforms and saves you time.
Home Builder Email Marketing
By now, you’ve learned the basics of email marketing. But you might wonder, “How does this apply to me as a contractor?” You might think of major consumer brands or retail stores when you think of marketing campaigns. However, your contracting business has more in common with these than you might think. No matter what business you own, you have a product to sell.
When selling your product, you want to get into a features and benefits mindset. Doing so will help you view your contracting business as a product available for purchase. Let’s run through a hypothetical situation.
A new homeowner, Chris, has a few DIY projects they will want to tackle on their own. They’ve conducted research on DIY projects, the cost of different projects, and contractors in their area. From this research, they found your website. Although Chris originally isn’t planning to hire a contractor, they found the information on your website useful and signed up to receive emails with tips for DIY home projects.
After completing a small renovation, however, Chris begins to feel overwhelmed. While one renovation felt like something they could handle, completing an entire list of projects has proven too burdensome for this new homeowner. Chris has gained a new understanding of the time and stress involved in doing renovations—and doing them well. After utilizing some of your company’s DIY PDFs, Chris reaches out to you for a quote and, finding it reasonable, decides to use your company for their next project.
What features and benefits did your new customer Chris recognize in this scenario? When they visited your website and signed up for marketing emails, this customer recognized the following features: your industry knowledge and industry experience. Although Chris didn’t initially purchase your service, your content planted a seed of brand awareness.
Once the customer used a different service–in this case, Chris’s DIY approach was your competition—they remembered your contracting business through your marketing emails. At this point, the customer has recognized the following benefits of your company: that you are efficient and perform knowledgeable work that would save them time and stress.
Through your marketing emails, you demonstrated your expertise, and you gently planted reminders. So when it came time to make a decision, the customer knew exactly who to call—all thanks to your emails.
Building the Mailing List of Construction Companies
As with any industry, contractors and construction companies will find unique characteristics when building an email marketing contact list. You must consider every possible customer you may have. Homeowners, commercially owned apartment complexes, and small business owners represent a few.
Ultimately, you need to reflect on your location and the potential customers that exist nearby. As a contractor, any building represents a potential customer. It’s up to you to narrow each target audience down into segments and determine whether or not they’d use your service.
Email Templates for Contractors
As you dive into email marketing, you may find yourself coming up short of ideas for content. Begin your email journey strategically by creating a few email templates based on your industry. Remember when we mentioned adding value to your email content? List your valuable content ideas as a starting point. Here’s a few to get started with:
- DIY Tips
- Product Reviews and Recommendations
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Industry Trends
As an industry professional, you should easily find subcategories to discuss within each of these umbrella topics. Remember, concise email content performs well, so the more you can narrow these topics, the better. Once you have a narrowed list of topics, you can begin crafting your emails.
If you choose to build your emails in Constant Contact, you’ll have access to template designs that will make your emails look even more professional. Once you choose a template, you should adjust the visual to match your brand colors and logo. Doing this will make your emails instantly recognizable to your audience.
With Relentless Digital, we’ll help you begin the process of building contact lists, sending email marketing, and more. Our team of experts will offer a guiding hand as you explore email marketing for your company.
Are you interested in learning more about email marketing for your contracting business? Call us at Relentless Digital today at (262) 393-4241 to schedule a consultation with our team. Let our knowledge of email marketing for contractors help lead you to success!