Why You Should Use Email Marketing For Small Businesses
Email marketing is more important than ever as a tool to help improve small business’s customer base and bottom line profits. This is especially true with competition being greater than ever in this prolonged recession. There is not much else that can impact a company’s bottom line faster than a well thought out email marketing campaign to a large and well-nurtured email list.
A business can easily and cheaply deliver a large number of customised and personalised messages at predetermined intervals for next to nothing, so why not take advantage of it? Every business, big and small should be doing this. Most Small Business have not developed a serious email marketing strategy and this is something that should be done sooner rather than later. They are leaving money on the table, so to speak, by not using this valuable method of marketing.
Before you can conduct any sort of meaningful email marketing campaign, you need to have a list of people’s email address and names if possible. There are a number of ways to get this moving fast. As they say “the money is in the list”.
What is a Customer Worth to You?
Customer Lifetime Value
Most Small Business owners won’t know this, but here’s how to calculate it:
Determine average net spend of a new customer transaction:______________
Determine average # of repeat purchases per year: ______________________
Estimate average # years a customer patronises the business: ________________
So, let’s say the average customer buys an item worth £100 profit to the business, and then repeats this process once again in the year, they are worth £200 to the business in year one. If they remain a customer for 5 years, they are worth £1,000.
Use any figures you want, but this is a simple way to view the worth of a customer
Building Email Lists:
- Website pages. You never know which page a visitor will land on when they arrive at your site from a search engine or link. You maximise your chances of getting a lead if you have a signup form on every page of your site.
- Special Internet-Only offers: Try to get your customers to get on your email lists to receive these special offers. The offers can be discounted products, two for one sales, coupons, vouchers or whatever you wish.
- Ask for email addresses. Get your staff to ask customers for their email address.
- Send postcards to your mailing list. If you have postal address information but not email addresses of existing customers, send them a postcard asking them to subscribe to your email list. You will want to provide them with some sort of incentive of course.
- Use Invoices: add a sign up box on your invoices.
- Rented Lists: Can be useful in building a subscriber list. Be careful and only use a reputable provider of such a list and make sure your list contains names and addresses of people who are specifically interested in your type of products or services. Otherwise a waste of time.
- Create a Newsletter:and promote it in all your company correspondence and advertising.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Do Confirm all new subscribers: This will be done automatically via your autoresponder.
- Do Use the “double opt-in” method to ensure the integrity of the signup. This confirms that the subscriber has given you their email address is done by having the subscriber reply again via email to confirm.
- Do use the Unsubscribe Link Feature:This is very important to let the subscriber know they can get off your list by unsubscribing. This stops a lot of complaints about spam. All reputable systems will provide this feature.
- Do Personalise Each Message: You can increase both your reading and click-thru rates considerably by putting the subscribers name in the email. It’s important to establish a relationship with each customer.
- Do Choose Your wording Carefully. Most email systems use spam filters that analyses the certain words or combinations.
- Do Use Eye Catching Subject Headings: When your email arrives in your subscriber’s inbox, there are only a few seconds to the subscribers attention. They will quickly delete your email or ignore it.
- Don’t add email addresses to your list: unless the person has given you permission.
- Don’t forget to sign your messages: Always include a signature at the bottom of your emails, as it’s one of the easiest ways to attract more traffic to your website. This signature should include your personal details, your company details, and an unsubscribe link.
Email Marketing Systems
Ok, now you have the basis of email marketing. Let’s focus on what you need to do next. You will need to select the Autoresponder system that best suits your requirements. Below are some of the more commonly used systems. These are not expensive and includes the hosting of the software (basically you only rent it) and your subscriber lists and follow up messages etc as well. These are all Hosted.
AWeber: Has some great features and is easy to use. Costs around $19.00 per month, but cost will go up once you go past 5000 subscribers. Highly reliable and robust.
GetResponse: Similar to Aweber, but a little more difficult to use in my opinion. Cost about $18.00 per month, cheaper with annual payments.
Trafficwave.Net: You get unlimited autoresponder and click track reporting. Price stays the same regardless of how many subscribers you obtain. Cost about $17.95 per month.
Imnica: A new and up and coming hosted system. It has the vast majority of features the others, same deliverability levels, and LESS strict policies. Imnica Mail also has a full blown API for easy integration with existing systems. Not as easy to use as some of the other, but a great price at $9.00 per month.
With Imnica Mail you also get unlimited lists, unlimited AutoResponder messages, and unlimited broadcasts to your list.
InfusionSoft. Good choice for larger businesses that need to send out huge quantities of email. It integrates email marketing, sales, e-commerce, and even customer service.
Because email marketing applications are available as hosted solutions, businesses do not have to worry about using their internal systems to send messages, nor do they have to worry about managing the mail server or backing up their database. Most importantly, they don’t have to worry about legal issues and CAN-SPAM compliance. With these third party systems, all of that is done for them. Once the email system is setup with the chosen provider the next step is to develop the email list. As email is the primary method of online communication. You should have a website that captures leads and sales, nothing is more important than the email marketing system behind it.
Creating an “Opt-In” Form:
You create the Opt-in form within the Autoresponder. You chose the type of form you want, edit the wording and the system provides you with a code that you can cut and paste into your website.
Of the five above systems above, I recommend AWeber mainly for its reliability and ease of use. They also have a very neat “light box” feature that allows you to setup an opt-in form without needing to change the design of your website. They also have good tutorials which lead you step-by-step through the setup process and use of the system.
What Kind of Emails: HTML or Plain Text?
What does this really mean? Basically with HTML you can send messages with text plus graphics and banners etc. With Plain Text it’s text only.
Ideally, you would like to send your messages sent using HTML and graphics to get the full impact, just like in print flyers and direct mail. This works just fine, however, there are a few things to keep in mind with HTML email messages:
- Many people will only accept email in Plain Text and have “images” turned off in their email accounts. If you send HTML emails to them, they will only see the words and not the graphics…not really the impression you want to convey.
- Generally most of communicate in plain text (i.e. just words). It’s more personal and is more likely to be opened and read.
- Plain Text has is disadvantages as well. For example you can’t use all of the means at your disposal to get your message across, such as headlines, photos, pictures, etc
- I recommend that you start out with PlainText
Building Email Lists Through Offline Methods
All Businesses, both large and small should be building their email list offline as well as online.
A good example of this is a retail outlet dealing directly with customers. The staff could ask their customers if they want to sign up for Internet Specials. Staff could even wear a badge saying “Have You Heard About our Internet Offers?” When the customer asks a member of staff what the Internet Offers are, they say they change all the time so it’s best to email them to you each time they change…do you want to get on our email list? Your Staff can capture the email information on a small card specially prepared for this or on the part of the receipt that the business keeps. This method is a bit slow, but over time it will grow significantly. This same basic strategy can be used for any business where there is direct customer contact.