Is your small business not performing as well as you’d like?
Maybe you’re doing okay but want more.
It might be time to think about an email marketing campaign.
What is email marketing?
Before diving into the reasons that email marketing is good for your small business, it may help to have a solid definition of what it is.
Email marketing is a way to communicate with potential customers and established customers through email, all of whom will have already given their permission to be contacted this way.
It’s important to note that, though you have permission, inundating anyone with constant emails may very well have the opposite the effect than what you’re going for!
Why is email marketing important?
There are a number of advantages and benefits associated with email marketing.
Let’s take a look at why it may be a great choice for your small business:
- Zero in on your target market. Emailing allows you to hone in on those who are most likely to be potential customers. This information can be collected by collecting data about specific people’s interaction with your website.
- Stay connected and communicate more frequently. You can send out an email at any time you wish, alerting them of a new blog post, collecting data via surveys or questionnaires, or any other quick blast of information you’d like to get out there. Emailing can keep your business at the forefront of your customers’ minds. The ease with which emails can be created and sent out means you can send communication more often.
- Boost sales. When used the right way, email marketing can help you to increase your sales. How does an ROI of 3800% sound? According to the 2015 Client Email Report, The average ROI for email is $38 for every $1 spent!
- Lessen your effort and save time. The two most common ways that a direct marketing campaign targets customers is via print mailing and telesales. Crafting a print mailer can be labor intensive and telesales is time-consuming. Preparing and sending out an email take a fraction of the time and effort.
- Allows for time-sensitive messages. You can send out an email that is relevant for that day. For example, maybe you make an off-the-duff decision that in order to get rid of some older inventory you’d like to deeply discount it for one day. The ability to send a message out in real-time allows you that flexibility.
- Customized messages. Other forms of advertising have to take a “one-size-fits-all” approach due to the number of people they are reaching. With email marketing, you can break your list down into smaller lists with a more narrowed focus. Take a look at these statistics:
- Test the market. The use of emails allows you to try out different tactics to see what gets the most positive response. Try out varying styles, colors, headlines, and formats and track the response data.
- Easy to spread the word. Think about how easy it is to forward an email to a friend. Email marketing allows your business reach to be extended much further than your original audience.
- Cost effective. It doesn’t take a lot of manpower to create and distribute an emailer. All other types of marketing require you to invest a substantial amount of money. Email marketing has very little cost involved, especially for such a great return.
- Build relationships. The frequent communication with your target audience can help to build bonds of trust between you and your customers. Trust goes a long way in terms of repeat business and referrals.
- Ownership. You are the owner of your email list! Social media sites could close down your page at any time they choose. You’re in charge of your email list!
- Environmentally-friendly. While it may not seem like that big of a deal, email marketing can greatly reduce your toll on the environment by saving paper. Every little bit counts!
Email marketing vs. spamming
There’s a big difference between spam and email marketing.
Know the difference so that you don’t turn your audience off!
We’ve already defined email marketing, so let’s defined spam.
Spam is unsolicited emails that are sent out in bulk.
Your customers won’t have a positive response if they view your communications as spam.
How do you make sure what you’re sending out doesn’t fall into that category?
There are a few ways to make sure you’re not heading down the spam path:
- Don’t spoil it with the subject line. Be careful with the use of caps, punctuation, and words that are viewed as typically spammy.
- Individualization goes a long way. Use an email provider that will allow you to use your customer’s actual names, as opposed to non-descript greetings. They are much more likely to actually open the email and read it.
- Make unsubscribing an option. Every communication you send out should give the receiver the choice to opt out of receiving any other emails.
- Keep the content relevant. Take the time to group your customer email list in such a way that they aren’t constantly getting communications that aren’t relevant to them. Receiving information that doesn’t apply may cause your customers to stop paying attention to your emails altogether.
Following these guidelines will ensure that your communication with your target audience is fruitful.
How to form an email list
We’ve talked about how beneficial it is to implement email marketing and how to make sure the correspondence you’re sending isn’t spam.
So, how do you generate an email list?
There are actually a lot of different methods you can use to form that list:
- Attach a reward. Offer your prospective customers some type of incentive for signing up for your email list. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different rewards or offers to see what gives you the best response.
- Keep it simple. Don’t make the prospective customer jump through too many hoops to opt-in. Allow them to do it on the same page where they are signing up.
- Give a lot of chances to opt-in. Put an option to follow your site or receive your newsletters and updates on each page of the website. Sometimes it takes a bit of perusing before a potential customer decides they like what they see. You want them to have immediate access.
- Don’t underestimate the power of the pop-up. There are ways to keep your pop-ups from being an immediate turn-off. Make the settings such that the pop-up is only seen once per week. It’s also wise to set it up so that the pop-up only appears after a certain amount of time. One to two minutes is an appropriate length of time.
- Make the love of mobile work for you. It’s very common for people to be glued to their phones for much of the day. Take advantage of that and allow customers to sign up for your email list by texting to join. People like convenience!
These options can help to grow your email list and get your small business on the road to a robust email marketing campaign.
Another option you have is to invest in email marketing software.
Email marketing software
You have a lot of options when it comes to email marketing software.
This is just a small sampling of software PC World considers to be among the best options:
Common email marketing questions
It can be daunting to begin a new type of marketing campaign.
While email marketing is well worth it, you probably still have some questions.
Here are some of the most frequent questions that small business owners ask about email marketing, along with common sense answers.
Question: Is there a certain time or day that is best for sending out an email?
Answer: Much of it depends on your particular email list, but there is some data that suggests weekends and mornings are the most profitable times.
Question: How should I craft my email?
Answer: Try to think of yourself from the perspective of your customers. The first thing their eyes will be drawn to is who the email is from, followed by the subject line. Put the most effort into coming up with an interesting subject. Speaking of the subject, the optimal length for a subject is 29-39 characters, but definitely no more than 50. Take on the rest after you’re satisfied with the subject.
Question: How do I make my emails look just as good on a laptop as they do on a smartphone?
Answer: 49% of emails will be opened on a mobile device so it’s important that you utilize a responsive email design. This ensures your email will look great no matter what kind of device on which they’re being accessed. Forbes has a lot to say about mobile-optimized email that you can read here.
Question: Are there any email marketing guidelines that I have to abide by?
Answer: The CAN-SPAM Act has set forth guidelines that small business must work within when sending out emails. The rules are as follows:
- An unsubscribe link must be included.
- The actual street address of your business or the P.O. Box must be displayed.
- If someone unsubscribes you are not allowed to email them again.
- Don’t purchase a list.
There are some strict fines for not following these guidelines, such as a $300 fine per email recipient.
Keep your eyes open for our next article where we’ll talk about running and maintaining your email marketing campaign!
We welcome your questions and comments! Let us know what you think!