How To Hire A VA To Manage Your E-Mail Inbox And Marketing Campaigns
Personal and business communications have been made incredibly simple since the introduction of e-mail. Everyone uses it and it’s completely free to use as long as you have an Internet connection.
The incredible wide spread use has enabled businesses to keep in touch with clients and vendors very easily, but it also means that you can become overwhelmed with emails on a daily basis.
Keeping on top of your email inbox can be a tough and distracting challenge.
And you also don’t want to ignore using email as a marketing channel to reach new and existing customers.
When you keep track of the amount of time you spend on email on a weekly basis you will quickly find that many hours every day are spent on such tedious admin tasks. And getting an email marketing campaign set up for success takes some special technical skills as well.
Fortunately there is an excellent solution for you to take advantage of. With the help of a dedicated email management and marketing VA you can not only save yourself a load of time, but also ensure far better success in keeping in touch with your client base.
On this page you’ll find out exactly how you can achieve all this. If you’d rather talk to someone about hiring a Virtual Assistant directly, then contact Outsource Workers today for free help and advice on the best approaches.
E-mail For Communication
The very first email was sent as far back as 1971, but it wasn’t until the rise of the Internet that it started becoming popular. Right around 1996/97 there were numerous services popping up including Hotmail, which were free to sign up and use.
Almost immediately it became a communication method used by millions of people around the world to stay in touch and send messages. At the time, SMS messages abroad were still very expensive, and of course limited to 160 characters.
The same was the case for businesses where email was deployed first in large corporations to make communication between colleagues in different locations a lot easier and faster. Certainly faster and more effective than using Fax.
Nowadays, there are several alternatives to email (more on this further down) that bring instant communication to the next level. But chances are that email will remain in place for personal and business communication for years to come.
The important thing to understand though is that it’s not a method without its downsides.
So what exactly is the appeal with e-mails, and is it as flawless as it seems?
- Everybody Uses Email
This makes it one of the most effective ways to get information to people without having to check if they use a specific messaging service. It’s one of the main downsides with all instant messaging apps available.
- Fast And Easy
Writing up an email is quick and takes practically no skill. As long as you have someone’s email address and you can type, then you’re able to send emails.
- Ideal For Reaching Lots Of People
When you need to get a message out to a lot of people in one go, then email is an extremely efficient way to do so. Sending takes a matter of seconds, and the identical message can be sent to any size group of people.
- Can Be Sent And Received From Anywhere
Whether you’re on your laptop at an airport or using your phone during your daily commute, with Internet access practically everywhere you won’t struggle to keep up to date.
- Not Secure With Basic Set Up
When you send an email and it’s not encrypted, then basically anyone can intercept it. There are very effective encryption methods, but this requires set up on both your end and the recipient’s.
- Spam Is A Problem
Spam is not only a nuisance, but also a serious problem when you get overwhelmed with it. Most email client apps now have pretty good filters built in, but you still need to sporadically check that nothing important has been marked as spam.
- Slow Form Of Communication
Yes, when you hit send the recipient will be able to read the message within just a few second, even if they’re halfway around the world. But as a form of communicating through a string of questions and answers, it is not very effective. For that type of communication instant messaging is far superior.
- Information Overload
Even when you have decent spam filters and automatically filter emails into topics and folders, you will quickly find yourself reading and responding to hundreds of emails each day.
When you’re running a business, chances are that you are overwhelmed with emails from clients, vendors, staff and various spam and legitimate marketing sources.
Keeping on top such an overflowing inbox can take hours of valuable time.
But there are some simple things you can do to manage this more effectively.
Managing Your Inbox
Dealing with an overflowing inbox can be a huge challenge. And the longer you have put it off the more difficult the task will become.
If you’ve ever tried getting on top of it you’ll know how distracting the vast majority of the emails are. You could be receiving hundreds of emails each week, but only a few of them actually need your attention.
With all the advertising, newsletters and people just adding you to email conversations for your information it’s difficult to figure out which ones to focus on. Here are some helpful tips to make the entire task easier and partially automated.
All email applications these days have filters. These allow you put emails from certain people into different folders. It’s not something you would do all in one go, but as you see more emails come in from the same person, you can add the sender to a filter and collect the emails in a specific folder.
This immediately puts some order to all your emails and you have much better oversight of whose been contacting you.
One extremely helpful trick to use is to create a filter for all emails that include “unsubscribe” into a folder called newsletters.
You could be signed up to dozens of these, and they generally are not a high priority. You’ll be amazed at how much less noise there is in your inbox with this one folder.
The next step is to then prioritise your emails.
Now that you have incoming mail going into specific folders you can prioritise them. You might find that certain clients are very important and should be given immediate attention. For these you could set filters that colour code them, or you can just set up a high priority folder for the most important contacts.
What this does is pre-order all your incoming emails. Once you have dealt with the highest priority ones you can then move down the order as your time allows.
In the above filtering step we introduced the trick of having all newsletters go to one inbox. When you have the time to check some of these out, they will all be sitting there.
But one thing you should do on a monthly bass is check which newsletters you never even opened.
Here’s what to do with them…
Open up one of them, scroll to the bottom and hit the unsubscribe link. If you’ve gone a month without paying attention to them, then chances are you never will.
And if the information in them was a specific news item, then a month later it’s not going to be relevant.
Set Aside Certain Times
People have got so used to accessing email wherever they are that they have started using it almost like a form of instant messaging. But for such communications it’s extremely inefficient.
So, the best thing you can do is use it as a form of communication to either reach several people in one go, or to send longer pieces of information and attachments. It should never be used as a tool for anything extremely urgent.
Therefore, you should designate certain times of the day to check your email.
This means getting into the habit of not automatically pushing emails to your computer, phone or tablet, but rather checking them at a certain time; ideally manually so that it’s done when you’re in the frame of mind for it.
Don’t let email disrupt your other tasks.
Create Auto Responses For Common Questions
How often have you looked at an email and said to yourself: “I’ve answered this hundreds of times!”
This could be from customers, vendors or staff and with enough of these coming in on a daily basis the time you spend answering them will add up.
One thing you should definitely be doing is keeping a text file or digital sticky note on your computer with the answer so that you can just copy and paste them.
But there are some faster options available.
Using Email Client Apps
One of the most commonly used email client apps is Outlook. Chances are though that you’re not using it to its full capacity with many features hidden away.
One such feature is the canned response which can be set up in a matter of seconds. The feature you’re looking for is called Quick Parts and can be set up by highlighting part of an email and then using the Insert menu to save the text as a Quick Part.
This basically keeps the text snippet stored for you to access at any time to enter into an email. It might only save a minute here and there but it all adds up.
Most other applications have very similar features that help you quickly access your canned responses.
Using Inbox Management Tools
The above tip still involves some manual processing even if that’s a lot quicker than typing your responses each time. But there are many different email management tools available that allow you to fully automate these responses.
Essentially they allow you to specify certain phrases, and if an email contains one or more of them then an automatic response is sent back. For example, if you constantly get asked what photographer to use for listings, then you can create an auto response that answers that question.
It does take some fine tuning, but over time this will save you a ton of admin work.
Hiring A VA To Manage Your Inbox
If technical and semi-automated solutions don’t seem like the right option for you then there is a great decision you can make: hire a Virtual Assistant to take care of your inbox.
This is essentially like having a secretary sorting your post and screening incoming phone calls. If you had to do it yourself you’d be tied up for hours a day. And the same can be done for you inbox.
Here are the main benefits you get:
Start Your Day With Organisation
By hiring a VA in the Philippines you can take advantage of the slight time difference. When you get into work in the morning your VA will have been able to spend a few hours sorting through your emails and listing them out in priority order.
You can even have them respond to certain queries on your behalf with canned responses or confirming appointment times. You will essentially arrive into work and have all your priority emails ready to be dealt with enabling you to be far more focused on the productive work that will bring in more revenue.
Provide A More Personal Touch
A VA will also be able to provide a more personal touch to your responses. As good as automation tools are, it can look a bit unprofessional if they pick up on a question and then respond immediately with something that maybe only partially answers the question.
By having a human learn how to respond to certain inquiries including scheduling appointments you can make sure that it always has a personal touch that people will appreciate a lot more.
Save A Lot Of Time
Most importantly though, you will save a ton of time. On our homepage we provide a section on how to work out what tasks take up most of your time. Chances are that sorting your email inbox is one of the most time consuming tasks on your list. And it’s definitely not a Dollar productive task.
You can use our hiring guide on the homepage to go through the process of finding and hiring a VA. Or you can contact Outsource Workers today and let our team take care of finding the right VA for managing your inbox. In less than 2 weeks you could be set up and ready to save endless hours trying to get your emails under control.
Alternatives To Email
We’ve already mentioned a few times that email has become a tool that it was never meant for and is highly ineffective at.
Too many people tend to use email as a sort of instant messaging where conversations are attempted. Worse yet, you can get sucked into communications that are trying to solve a problem.
The reason this is so inefficient is that it’s not quite instant enough. And if you have a smart email client which automatically creates lists of related emails, you’ll still struggle to keep track of who wrote what and in what context.
Fortunately, there have been a lot of new tools that are becoming very good options as alternatives for or additions to email.
Instant messaging has its origins in the world of SMS. These simple text messages have been around since the 90s where on the early mobile phones of the day you were able to key in messages and send them to friends.
The length was limited to 160 characters, but you could have a simple conversation and make arrangements to meet up.
Since then things have drastically changed. With apps like Skype, WhatsApp, Viber and iMessage you have a huge selection to choose from.
You can easily set up groups of people and messages are ordered in a way that makes it easy to follow the conversation. The main downside is that different platforms cannot communicate with each other.
Unlike email, this means the recipient of your message has to be using the same app.
Cloud Based Tools
In the last few years there has been a huge amount of development in the world of cloud based tools for communication. One of the most popular tools is Slack which allows for a very simple way to create a better communications platform.
It does require all participants to work on the same platform, but for a team of staff that is easily achieved. Private and group conversations can be easily set up, and everything from links to attachments are shared in an instant.
Most businesses that have adopted this platform have never looked back and significantly increased productivity through simpler and more effective communication channels.
E-mail For Marketing
Far too many businesses don’t take full advantage of all the emails they collect from vendors and clients. And hardly any have active campaigns targeted at getting new potential clients to sign up to a newsletter.
Of all the digital marketing tools available, including social media and search advertising, nothing is as cheap and effective as marketing to a list of people who have already shared their email address with you.
Let’s find out why this is the case:
Powerful Email Lists
There are several ways to build up a list of emails. First of all, you will regularly be given email addresses by new clients and vendors to send them some info. When that happens, you can always ask if it’s OK to add them to your email list for occasional updates.
The important thing is that you don’t want to bombard people with emails as that will just annoy them and could potentially cost you sales.
The second method is to ask for people’s email addresses on your website in exchange for a newsletter or other free information. The information has to be valuable and relevant to your readers for them to hand over their email.
In both these ways you can quickly create a list of hundreds or even thousands of email addresses. And once you have them in an automated system, then you can very effectively reach out to them to provide information about your services.
Best of all, it’s a…
Very Cheap Form Of Marketing
We’ll discuss the tools you need in the next part. But for relatively small email lists your investment in the right tools will be very low and in some cases even free.
It will take some time and effort to set up, but at Outsource Workers we have you covered for that too. With the help of a dedicated email marketing VA you can be quickly up and running with an effective campaign.
When you compare the costs of maintaining and running an email list and compare them to other forms of marketing, the cost will always stand out.
For literally a few Dollars you can send out regular updates to your client and vendor list.
Simple And Effective Tools
The two most popular tools available for managing email lists are MailChimp and Aweber. For small lists under 2,000 subscribers MailChimp is the best option as it’s free for up to 12,000 emails per month.
Aweber does have some more powerful tools built in, but if you’re just starting out, then why not take advantage of a free tool.
Now, you could try and send emails to your list from your email client, but it’s a pain to manage and keep track of.
The above tools will allow you to schedule emails, manage subscriptions, and even test different emails and subjects for parts of your list.
From a marketing perspective you will have powerful insights into what types of emails work best and ultimately lead to new clients and more sales.
Reach Out To Existing Clients For Up And Cross Sells
One of the most important things to keep track of in marketing is the cost of sales. When you run a cold marketing campaign through social media, pay per click or traditional channels like print and radio, those costs are likely going to be the highest you will encounter.
That doesn’t mean they are bad forms of marketing; it’s just something to be aware of.
On the other hand, one of the cheapest ways to get new sales is through up or cross selling to your existing clients.
And here is why it’s such a great way to boost sales.
Why Is This Important
Your existing clients, even if they have only purchased once, already have a relationship with you. And as long as there was no problem with the transactions, they will know what they can expect from you.
From a sales process point of view you’re already a good bit further ahead because there is trust and previous communication. You don’t have to start from scratch to build up rapport and trust, but can focus much more on the other services you might want to sell.
Inform Clients About Other Services
A typical example for the real estate industry would be getting in contact with an investor client who has bought a property through you before.
You can easily reach out to them about a new letting and/or maintenance service that you’re offering.
They know you and your business and will be far more susceptible to hearing what you have to offer. This means you don’t have to convince them that you’re the right business for them, but rather that your service is what they need.
From a sales perspective that is a huge advantage and will always result in far higher conversion rates.
Test Your Email Outreach Campaigns
Now, you can reach out to past clients individually, but a far more efficient way to do this is by taking advantage of your email list.
The above mentioned tools will allow you to very easily make emails look personalised rather than just a blanket email campaign.
The important thing to keep in mind is to create different groups within your email list. You don’t want to be sending an email about a service for investors to someone who sold their family home with you.
Instead, you should be tailoring your emails as closely as possible to the type of clients you have.
By reaching out in this way you will make sure that you stay in contact with people you’ve done business with before. They become aware of other services you have and this form of marketing will help you to build more brand awareness.
Create A Regular Newsletter
Beyond collecting email addresses from clients and vendors you do business with, you should be looking for ways to get the email addresses from other potential clients.
The single best way to do this is to create a regular newsletter and get people who visit your website or social media platforms to sign up to it.
Along with your calls to action to get in contact with you, signing up to an email newsletter should be a prominent feature on all your online platforms. In order to make this successful you’ll need to keep 3 things in mind:
- A clear call to action to sign up
- Provide valuable information not just sales pitch
- Don’t bombard people with emails
The end result is that you will…
Grow Your Email List
As long as you keep the above in mind and you experiment a little with the details, you will start growing your email list.
The more people you can get to your website and interested in your newsletter the better. Your email list will become a core asset for your marketing campaigns, and as discussed above, it will work out as one of the cheapest ways to reach potential clients.
Even if the people signing up are not immediately ready to pay for your services, they will become accustomed to your name and that is one of the most important factors for the following reason.
Create Brand Awareness
Having your business become synonymous with your service is something that takes time and effort. In the past this could even have taken several generations of a family to really get established.
But when people in your service area think of real estate and associate that to your business name, then you really create a competitive edge over your competition.
Traditional forms of marketing like TV, radio and print media were the most obvious way to do this, but modern online and social media technology have made it possible to get your name out there at a much lower cost.
Using your email list for brand awareness is an ideal solution. Not everyone that signs up to your newsletter will immediately turn into a client. But over time they will recognise your name and ideally associate you with solid advice.
And if you really master such campaigns then you’ll even find people on your newsletter sharing them with friends and family.
And all this will make you stand out as an expert.
Build Reputation As An Expert
The ultimate goal is to become known as an expert who is willing to provide valuable information for free.
Your actual sales pitch should be secondary in your email campaigns, and should always appear after you provide something that your readers will be interested in.
The difficulty lies in figuring out what to send out, but there are some simple tricks you can use.
Provide Valuable Information
When it comes to setting up successful email marketing campaigns it’s important to note 2 things.
First of all, you have to provide valuable information. If it’s just copy and paste information from other sources that can be easily found, then you could actually do your reputation more damage than good.
Secondly, this information should always be given away for free. People are paying you by handing over their email address and that is a valuable asset.
Ideally the information you give away is something that people have to pay for anywhere else. People love free stuff and will keep taking it in as long as it’s valuable.
Create News Summaries
These days people get overwhelmed with news stories and will often turn a blind eye even on important information they might need.
This is certainly the case in the real estate industry, but there is a great way to deal with it.
Chances are that you’re regularly keeping track of news stories for your area; whether that’s new construction projects or census data being released.
What you can do with all this is to keep a journal of interesting and important news stories that you read. Then, once a week create a summary email of all those stories.
One or two paragraphs for each one is enough, along with a link to the original story.
This way your readers will be able to keep up-to-date without having to constantly monitor their news feeds.
Identify What People Are Looking For
There are two ways to approach this.
First of all, there are tools including Google’s keyword planner that allow you to research what people are actually searching for online.
By starting at a very high level, you can narrow things down to specific topics and then create an email on that topic.
The second way is to use Google trends to identify hot topics. If you’re one of the first people to give away information on something that is trending right now, then you can really place yourself as an expert on the latest news.
Give Away The Information For Free
We already mentioned this, but it’s so important that we’ve made it a separate subsection. When it comes to your newsletter, you want to be giving it away for free. Your payment is the email address that people will hand over.
Ultimately, your aim is to gain revenue from the services you offer, by gradually building trust with your readers and getting brand recognition.
People will be far more likely to pay for your service if you’ve already provided them with a ton of free information.
If all of the planning and execution sounds time consuming to you, then you’re absolutely right. It does take careful planning and execution, but it’s also an ideal task to outsource to a Virtual Assistant.
Contact One of our team at Outsource Workers today for free advice on how to get set up as quickly and effectively as possible.
Hidden Benefits Of Email Lists
Along with the low marketing cost and the relative ease of implementation, there are a few hidden benefits that are really worth mentioning.
Just on their own, they aren’t hugely valuable, bit when you bundle it all together, then you can create a huge marketing advantage over your competition.
Identify Better Leads
When it comes to marketing, it’s always difficult to figure out how to best reach your ideal client. The more targeted you can be, the higher the return on investment.
When it comes to your email list, these are people who have already shown some amount of interest in your business. Either as previous clients and vendors, or as subscribers to your newsletter.
They know who you are, and have received regular updates that they value. This makes them more than a warm prospect and an extremely valuable asset.
Faster Sales Process
Usually when you’re dealing with a cold prospect you have to spend a lot of time to assess them. This involves:
- Understanding their needs
- Identifying their pain points
- Figure out their budget
- Build a rapport on common ground
- Establish trust
All these things take time and you cannot rush them, otherwise you’re guaranteed to set yourself up for failure.
But with your existing clients you already have all those things done. You have built rapport and trust.
Most importantly, these people have already had business transactions with you. So you can dive into your sales pitch a lot quicker than you otherwise would.
Flexible Targeting Strategies
With the right tools and planning you can sort your email list into specific target groups. This has two distinct advantages.
First of all, you can make sure that you send people things that are relevant to them.
There isn’t much point in sending information to your vendors about investment opportunities, and investors that have bought with you before may not be interested in basic terminology explanations.
Secondly, you can split test your email campaigns. Using different subject lines and actual content, you can see what works best by analysing the open rate and how many people reacted to your call to action.
Higher Conversion Rates
When you try to sell something to people that have dealt with you before you will always achieve higher conversion rates.
Trust has been built and as long as you provided an excellent service the previous times, clients will generally be happier to deal with someone they already know.
You probably see this yourself when it comes to choosing different vendor service providers, that once you find a good one, you will stick with them.
Hiring A VA To Manage E-mail Marketing
When it comes to hiring an email marketing VA there are several skills you need to focus on. Our homepage has extensive information on the entire hiring process, and you just need to add the following steps.
Key Skills To Target
When it comes to your job posting, applicant screening and interviewing you really have to make sure that you focus on a few key skills. The most important ones are:
- Experience with email marketing tools
- Understanding of split testing marketing campaigns
- Ability to come up with content plans
- Understanding of your industry
If you focus most of your attention on these areas, then you will be able to identify the best suited people right from the start.
Partner With Outsource Workers
If the process of hiring a VA is something you don’t have experience with, or if you have an urgent need for a dedicated assistant, then you should talk to our team at Outsource Workers.
We have the experience and expertise to either source a suitable VA from our existing pool, or we can do the hiring for you.
In less than 2 weeks you can be up and running without all the hassle of the hiring process. Just pick up the phone and we’ll be happy to provide you with free advice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some of the most common questions our team at Outsource Workers encounter are listed below.
But if you still have questions, then don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and talk to one of our advisers.
Do You Need Different VAs For Email Management And Marketing?
The skills needed for these tasks are very different in nature. It is possible to find VAs that have multiple skill sets, but this may take longer to achieve.
The better approach is to keep these tasks separate, as this gives you more flexibility when it comes prioritising workload.
At Outsource Workers we can provide you with multiple VAs for different tasks, so that you have the greatest amount of flexibility.
How Long Will It Take To Find An Email VA?
If you have never gone through this process before then you should plan for 4 to 6 weeks in total.
It’s also possible that your first hire doesn’t end up working out for a multitude of reasons. If this sounds like too much effort to invest, then talk to our team today and find out how you can be up and running in less than 2 weeks.
Will The VA Understand Your Client Marketing Goals?
If the hiring process is done right then all the necessary email marketing skills should be ticked off.
For your very specific requirements you will need to do some training and on-boarding. This is mainly to ensure that you fully formalise what your goals are. This is no different than if you were to hire a dedicated marketing agency.
Do They Have The Language Skills?
For both email management and marketing you need to make sure that the VA you hire has excellent written English skills.
The good news is that English is the second official language in the Philippines and is extensively taught in schools and universities.
You should definitely screen for language skills, but it’s safe to say that you won’t struggle to find the right person with the level of English comprehension that you need.
At Outsource Workers we have processes in place to screen for the best candidates and English language skills are a top priority.
Just pick up the phone and find out how we can help you with the process so that you end up with the best possible candidate.