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Defense Contractors: 5 Steps to Developing an Email Marketing Plan

Defense contractors who are smart about email marketing can build awareness and preference, and generate cost-effective leads and inquiries.

Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing tactics available.  In an Ad Effectiveness Survey commissioned by Forbes Media, email and e-newsletter marketing is the second most effective tool for acquiring customers (after search engine optimization).

What's the catch? Some planning is required.

Not to worry: developing an email marketing plan doesn't have to be hard, it just hast to be done. The basics of developing an email marketing plan are outlined in a whitepaper from email marketing service MailChimp.

For a defense contractor to have a successful email marketing effort, here is my summary of the 5 key planning steps:

Step 1: Define Your Readers. Who would you most like to be reading your emails? Is it defense procurement officers? The end users of your product? Other defense contractors?

You may determine that you have multiple, somewhat different groups of readers for whom you can develop different email campaigns.

Step 2: Determine Your Purpose. Ask these 3 questions:

  1. What does this audience want to hear from me?
  2. What useful information can I provide to this audience?
  3. What do I want to accomplish with my email marketing?

Remember that your readers are not as interested in your company or product as you are. Make sure to provide information that will help them fulfill their mission. It's OK to talk about your company or product, but only as it relates to how it can help the reader. And keep it short.  If you have a lengthy piece in a newsletter, provide just a summary and a link to the full article.

Step 3: Outline Your Goals. That which can be measured can be improved! Spend some time thinking about the true goal of your email marketing campaign. Is it to increase subscribers? To encourage whitepaper downloads from your website? To generate  inquiries or product demonstrations?  Once you have a written goal, determine how you can 1) achieve it and, 2) measure it.

Step 4: Determine Your Frequency. Think about what frequency makes sense for your audience and your content. An email once a month might make the most sense for most defense contractors. If you send the email more frequently, your readers might feel overwhelmed and opt out. Conversely, if you don't send an email for long periods of time your readers may forget that they opted in to receive the email, and report you as a spammer.

Step 5: Create a Timeline. Make an annual timeline with specific deadlines and proposed topics for each email.

Click here to download a copy of MailChimp's "How to Create an Email Marketing Plan," or view the SlideShare presentation below.

The Principal and Founder of Artillery, Douglas Burdett is a former artillery officer and Madison Avenue ad man. He also hosts The Marketing Book Podcast, where he interviews authors every week about the latest in modern marketing and sales.

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