I get it, as a painting contractor email marketing is the last thing on your mind.
But did you know that email marketing has the highest ROI of all digital marketing mediums? With an average ROI of 42:1 (that’s 4200%) there is no reason your painting business shouldn’t be investing time into this marketing strategy.
In this article, I’m going to review the benefits of outbound email marketing, what kind of results you should expect as a painting business owner, and the steps you need to take to set up your first email marketing campaign.
First, let’s start with a simple question…
How do painting contractors get clients?
The two primary methods contractors use to get clients are inbound and outbound marketing. Inbound marketing refers to advertising and content marketing, anything that gets customers coming to you. Outbound marketing is any method of proactively reaching out to prospects, such as email marketing and cold calling.
Inbound marketing has its place, but it can be time-consuming and expensive. In comparison, outbound marketing is less sexy, but the return on investment can be huge.
Why email marketing?
Like a phone number, it’s a safe assumption that most everyone who will engage you for business has an email address. The benefit of email marketing is it’s less invasive than phone calls or text messages, it’s easy to set up, and did I mention it’s extremely profitable?
Let’s talk numbers.
What results does email marketing produce?
On average we see a 2% conversion rate (closed jobs) for email marketing campaigns we run for other painting contractors. For best results, we recommend a mailing list of at least 100 contacts.
Here’s what that looks like in the real world:
Let’s say your primary lead source is a contact form on your website, and you receive around 5o submissions a month. In just two short months you have built a sustainable mailing list.
Consider this — most email marketing providers are free for the first 1000 monthly emails/contacts. That’s A LOT of emails/contacts for most contractors. So, to get started you’re just looking at a time investment, a few hours at most.
Results will depend on the quality of your email list. For instance, if you acquired 100 emails through your website they are more likely to convert compared to leads obtained using third-party services, which we’ll dive into next.
So after investing a few hours of your time you could have a sustainable marketing list that generates another 1-2 jobs a month.
Where do you start?
How to get started with email marketing
Before you can start sending emails, you need to build a mailing list. We recommend using MailChimp for its easy-to-use interface and at the time of writing this article, they have a free plan that allows you to send 10,000 emails/month.
Start by building your email list
Most painting contractors we engage do not have a mailing list. This makes sense given that email marketing is an underutilized channel in the painting industry. Fortunately capturing emails is easy, but it can take time.
Let’s review the two primary methods of capturing new contacts:
Any contacts you capture yourself are considered a first-party contact. These are the best leads as they have established buyer intent by providing their contact information, they are familiar with your business, and they are exclusive to you.
The best way to obtain these leads is by utilizing the tools at your disposal — your website.
MailChimp makes this easy. Simply create a contact form on their platform and embed on your website. The contact form will function as any other contact form would, but it will automatically add contacts to your mailing list.
While we recommend against it, you can use data aggregators to quickly build a relevant mailing list. This option expedites the process, but you’re purchasing leads that others in your industry have likely tapped into as well. Also, these contacts are cold, they’re completely unaware of your business so you can expect conversion rates to be lower.
For residential leads, we have found success with Leads Please. We simply target new homeowners and define our relevant demographics and typically for under $100 we can have a new list of 250+ qualified contacts, which is more than enough to get started on a new email campaign!
For commercial leads we recommend Coldlytics. They have extremely targeted lists, fast turnaround times, and they even verify email addresses before delivery.
Create your email template
Find an email template that fits your logo and color scheme. For best results, keep it simple.
Every template is made up of a header, body, and footer. The header and footer can remain the same across all of the emails you send. So after your template is customized you’re only responsible for adding a few lines of content to the body to click send!
Personalize your emails using separate campaigns
For best results, we recommend starting with two email campaigns: one for leads/prospects, and one for past customers.
This is critical for customizing your messaging. The emails you send need to be as personalized as possible, and in many cases, you may only have an email address to work with. So how do you personalize an email without knowing the recipient’s first name? Segmentation.
Segmenting your contacts into two buckets allows you to speak to your audience in a way that will encourage opens and clicks.
Bucket #1: Leads and prospects
This one is obvious, simply create a campaign that triggers each month with a promotion or incentive. Tailor your promotions to the time of year or industry trends. Other examples include:
Introductory offers for popular services
Bucket #2: Past customers
Customers you have already served will likely buy from you again, but more importantly, they serve as a great referral source. We found results in offering a referral incentive, either a monetary dollar amount or a discount on future services for every closed job they send. Other examples include:
Happy Birthday emails are a great way to stay in touch
Trending interior design inspiration
New service offerings — customers love being “in the know”
Trending colors or color recommendation services
Project ideas that complement past jobs
Complementary service offerings, such as a free pressure wash with any project over $XXXX dollars
Free annual touch-ups
How to avoid the dreaded SPAM folder
Email warmup is a practice of sending emails slowly at first to ensure they hit your recipient’s inbox and not their SPAM folder. There are several factors that contribute to inbox placement, but just a few play a significant role.
Age of your domain name: If you recently purchased a domain name you will have trouble reaching inboxes at scale for the first 6-12 months. Most email providers, such as Gmail and Outlook, use domain age as a weighted factor when determining which emails are automatically marked as SPAM.
Frequency of emails: How often you send will determine how likely your emails land in a junk mail folder. We recommend sending no more than once a week, but at least once a month, especially in the beginning. Consistency is key!
Quality of your mailing list: The emails you capture are not always valid. You may have been provided a fake email or the address could have been mistyped. In any event, sending to bad email addresses can result in the blacklisting of your domain. Fortunately, there’s an easy and inexpensive way to mitigate this. Simply upload your email list to NeverBounce and they’ll confirm which emails are valid and which are unreachable.
If you’re starting from scratch simply start sending to your mailing list immediately, even if it’s just to one or two recipients.
If you have a large, established mailing list you will need to use a third-party email warmup service first. We like Warmbox for its simple interface and its ability to integrate with several email service providers.
Send at the right time for best results
There are several schools of thought when it comes to the best time of day or the best day of the week to send emails for optimal engagement.
For instance, you wouldn’t want to send emails on a Morning morning as this is the busiest day of the week for most. The same applies to Friday afternoons, your audience is likely occupied and your business is the last thing on their mind.
For best results send mid-week on Wednesday or Thursday first thing in the morning.
Measure your results
There is no point in marketing if you’re not going to measure the results. Nearly every email service provider records data and measures the results of your email campaigns, use this data!
You measure the success of your email marketing efforts using the following metrics:
Test your subject lines and messaging
In addition to measuring results, most email providers also provide tools for testing different subject lines and email copy. Use these tools to make slight tweaks to your content, then measure the results. Implement the winning variation for future communications until you have achieved the desired results.
Email is the perfect way to reach your customers and get new painting jobs with little-to-no monetary investment. Most painting contractors overlook this form of outbound marketing, so use this to your advantage and dominate your local market!