By: Randy Hernandez | Chief Marketing Officer
Email marketing is a trusted, effective way to market your small business. It has become such a mainstay of business outreach efforts that 89% of marketers say email is their “primary channel for lead generation.”1 It's no wonder since every dollar spent on email marketing yields around $40 – an excellent ROI.2
Small businesses should take advantage of email marketing as an effective and affordable way to promote their services and products – yet less than 50% do!3 Even if you are already using email marketing, it pays to revisit your strategy regularly to maximize your efforts.
Here are some tips to kick off a powerful email strategy that will pay off in a huge way.
Find the Best Service
MailChimp and ConstantContact are the two largest providers of email marketing services at the moment. They both do a great job, but there are some significant differences, especially when it comes to pricing. Capterra recently polled 60 small businesses and found that “more than half of the respondents had used both” MailChimp and ConstantContact. Of the businesses that used both, this survey revealed a preference for MailChimp. Having said that, respondents also preferred ConstantContact’s service and support.4
My suspicion is that many small business owners ended up using both services because they started with one, then realized the other service might better suit their needs. Take time to compare the pricing models of the two companies and how the size of your email list and the number of emails you wish to send might affect your pricing.
Also, consider how much support you might need for technical aspects of the process like design and metric tracking. Look at both companies to see which of their ready-to-use templates you like best. Even if you have limited technical or design experience, both MailChimp and ConstantContact are easy to use. They offer a number of very user-friendly tools to create great emails and to help you track the effectiveness of your emails. As you roll out your email marketing, keeping an eye on the metrics to see what is working will become increasingly important.
These services also help with many of the provisions required by the CAN-SPAM Act5 and even offer tools to make sure your email will clear spam filters.
Keep Growing Your List
Building your list of targeted email addresses is the cornerstone of your email marketing and provides a powerful way to stay in touch with existing and potential customers. There are many ways to grow your list, but strategy is important to find the people who will likely become loyal customers.
· Ask for email addresses with each transaction, either in-store or online.
· Consider hosting a promotion or giveaway as a way of collecting contacts.
· Add an email sign up to your company website, social media pages, and emails.
· Include an easy link on your direct marketing materials.
· Use the ‘Forward’ option in each email you send so existing contacts can easily share with friends.
You will be able to tailor the information you require for an email sign up. Consider asking for birth dates so you can send personalized messages or offers to customers to say ‘Happy Birthday’.
Welcome emails have become expected, too, so write yours with care. This is a chance to follow up, confirm the email sign up, and share more information about your company.
A healthy email list will continue to grow as awareness of your company increases. This is an ongoing effort and will require attention, but the return on your efforts should be significant to your business.
Consider a Newsletter
Beyond promotional emails, your email list is a fantastic opportunity to develop a relationship with your customers. As with all marketing, your content should match the needs of your customers. The emails you send should be well-written and considerate to your potential customers. You don’t have to send a newsletter every day, but it should be frequent enough to be expected. Many small businesses find once or twice a month or weekly is a good schedule.
If you can offer your customers useful tips or news, consider a newsletter to build awareness of your company. For example, a monthly newsletter about trends in hair or makeup styles would dovetail nicely with a salon or spa, even offering a chance to promote new services or products alongside those tips. A medical practice can offer seasonal health tips or health news, an email newsletter is a way to extend care to your patients. Restaurants and cafes can communicate changes in their menu alongside community shout outs, news from local farms or farmer markets, and even recipes.
Study Up on Subject Lines
An effective email subject line is short and to the point. A strong subject line reflects what is in the body of the email and doesn’t over promise. Since over 50% of all emails are now read on mobile devices, keep a 35 character limit in mind.6 If your subject line is a little longer, keep the most important information at the beginning of the subject line to reach the mobile audience.
A/B testing is a great way to see what kind of subject line works best for your customers. Even if you don’t decide to test two subject lines for the same email, you may see some pretty clear patterns from your metrics. A subject line that really works well will show a great open rate. If the subject line bombs, your open rate will reflect it. Keep an eye on the subject lines that work the best to improve your open rates for future emails.
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