Planning your Email Marketing Campaign Before you get started actually creating your email campaign and designing the layout of your email, you first need to think about the purpose of the campaign and what you are trying to achieve. The types of things we need to include:

  • What am I trying to achieve? — This is where you think about the purpose and goals of your email marketing You may have a long-term goal, whereby you want to communicate with your customers on a regular basis to keep them informed of the latest offers, new services you have added to the hotel, and so on.
  • Who do I want to target? — identify who you want to send the email to. Your existing customers, such as, families or couples who have stayed with you before. You may even want to split up all your e-mail subscribers to groups and tailor communication based on the group.
  • How will I get people to subscribe to my mailing list? — By law you have to get specific permission from people to send them a marketing email. This is sometimes referred to as an “opt-in” and there are many ways you can get people to subscribe (or opt-in) to your mailing list. For example, you could have a sign-up form on your home page so that people can subscribe to your newsletter.
  • How frequently will I send these emails? — How frequently you send out your emails will depend on their type and purpose. For example, you may send out special offer and promotional emails as and when they are available, whereas you may send out a newsletter once a month. But try and keep the number of promotional communication’s to a minimum (1-2 a month) as too many emails could potentially annoy and alienate your subscribers causing them to unsubscribe.
  • Calls to action — This is what you want to get the reader to do once they have read your When designing your email you need to lay out exactly what you want the recipients of your email to do, and design it to make that path clear and easy to follow. For example, don't distract with too many links or offers, and make not only the call to action clear but also what recipients can expect when they click through. This can be as simple as "Click here for a 20% discount on your next weekend trip". For more information on calls to action, see the section in the guide “Getting the Most from your Website” which is part of this series of guides.

E-mail Marketing has evolved, moving from simple one-way messages and auto-responders (now referred to as e-mail 1.0) to a much more sophisticated way of communicating with your customers referred to as e-mail 2.0. It's an advancement in technology, entrepreneurs now have the ability to tailor the messages they send based on their customers' interests, preferences and purchase history - and targeted e-mails yield greater results.

With all the capabilities now available in e-mail marketing systems, there are a few basic things we need to know about e-mail marketing to build deeper relationships with your customers to increase revenues, grow your business and get ahead of your competition.

Here are seven steps to creating and launching a successful E-Mail Marketing 2.0 Campaign.

1. Choose the Right E-mail Marketing Software System

CRM systems can range from simple database models to more complex systems that include sales force management, shopping carts, affiliate programs and e-mail behavior campaigns. Infusionsoft offers complete CRM capabilities, which include not only database and campaign management but also offer information on interest, preference and purchase behaviors so that you can tailor your message and campaigns. Other systems, such as Mail Chimp , Constant Contact and AWeber offer more basic e-mail database and campaign management services. Decide what capabilities you want and use a checklist to compare systems. Most e-mail programs have training and free support to guide you through the learning process.

2. Build a List

Even if you only have 10 e-mail addresses, you need to start somewhere. Add those to your database. Once you have your list started, make sure that you launch a campaign to keep in touch and in front of your contacts without overwhelming their inbox. I suggest two e-mails per month maximum. It's not about e-mail quantity; it's about quality.

3. Set up Contact Information Capture Forms

It's easy to add forms to your website or blog to allow visitors to give you their contact information, such as e-mail address, name and phone number.

4. Decide What You Want to Accomplish

Before you launch your first campaign, you need to decide what it is that you want to accomplish. Do you want to deepen the quality of relationships, take your list through the sales cycle, educate them? Why are you sending your e-mails? Set clear goals before you send your first e-mail, and build your messages and campaign around those goals.

5. Set up Auto-respond E-mails

Set up at least six e-mails that will automatically release on the dates and times you choose to send out to your list. Keep them short, simple and to the point. Do not make them "sales pitchy"; use auto-respond e-mails to educate and build relationships, and the rest will follow. Make sure that each auto-respond e-mail has several links for more information; this is how you will gauge their interest and determine how to keep marketing to them.

6. Add Triggers to E-mails

Here's an example of a trigger: Your client clicks on a link in one of the e-mails you sent her about your product or service. As soon as she clicks on that link, it automatically triggers the release of a message sending her information about a similar product or service based on the original link. Triggers are used to send clients into a new sales cycle based on topic.

7. Monitor Results

Once per month, look at reporting (metrics) to see which e-mails are more effective and have a higher rate of opening as well as click-through. Use the lessons learned to build your next campaign. It's important to know how your list is responding to the e-mails that you send. If you aren't getting a good click-through response, the problem is either the quality of your message or the topic. Test a few e-mails with your top customers to see what they respond to and what they don't respond to (one common test is to send the same message with several different subject lines to see what your list favors). Offer recipients a discount on services for their time.

Not only has e-mail technology and software evolved, but the way people use it to communicate has changed how entrepreneurs and small-business owners market and grow their businesses. E- mail 2.0 marketing is an effective way to increase relationships, response rates and conversions through smart, targeted communication.