Email Marketing Still A Winner
Being a small business owner means it is essential to foster long-lasting customer relationships in order to build your brand. Email marketing one of the most profitable ways to grow your business and maximize profits. Small business owners of any industry should be utilizing email marketing: here’s our guide on how to do it:
The first thing to understand about email marketing is that it is an effective strategy no matter the size of your company. Often times small business owners assume that only large companies are able to take advantage of email marketing. This assumption is wrong, and by not taking advantage of email marketing your business could be missing out on a number of benefits.
Don’t forget that email marketing is actually one of the most profitable ways to market your business online. For every dollar you spend on email marketing, you will gain upwards of $40 dollars in return. That’s almost a 4,000% return on investment.
Two powerful tools at your disposal for email marketing are MailChimp and Hubspot. Both are free (with premium features offered), and allow you to streamline your online marketing. MailChimp and Hubspot are essential for generating leads, automating emails, and analyzing results.
Email marketing can seem complex at first but getting started is easier than it looks. Let’s go through how to put your small business email marketing plan in motion.
The key points to building your email marketing strategy come down to:
- Compiling a comprehensive email list
- Organizing the types of emails you’ll be sending out
- Tailoring the emails to include content relevant to your company
- Pulling the trigger and analyzing the results
Compile an email list
Sadly, you can’t just jump into emailing as many people as you can. Your company needs to develop a strategy to make an extensive contacts list in order to start getting emails out.
Start by creating lead capture forms on your company’s website. Making an appealing lead capture form will incentivize users to sign up for email lists. Be sure to let users know what they’ll be signing up for when entering their email address.
Use MailChimp’s custom signup forms feature to easily design an appealing form. You can create a custom message as well as add pictures for a professional look.
Email newsletter sign ups should be relevant to the content that a specific user is viewing. Don’t just create one generic lead capture form message. Instead, create a variety of different signup forms for different categories on your site.
This is referred to as a Call to Action.
For example: if a user is reading a blog post on merchant cash advances, include a lead capture form that says, “Stay up-to-date on financing tools for your small business”. This way, users will be more likely to sign up for email updates that they’ll find relevant to their interests. By avoiding a generic call to action phrases, your website will be able to capture a wider demographic of users willing to sign up for email marketing.
Decide what types of emails you’ll be sending
Once your website starts growing a list of contacts, the next step is to strategize what emails your contacts will be receiving.
An email newsletter that gets sent out on a predetermined cycle is a priority for all types of businesses. Consider a weekly or monthly email newsletter to keep users in the loop about your small business and what there is to offer. This will keep your small business relevant and ensure a steady stream of returning customers.
Other types of emails that your business should send out can vary on the type of company you run. Some examples include:
- Special offers and promotions for sales
- Holidays and special events
- Loyalty perks for loyal customers
- Transactional emails (e.g. purchase receipts, notifications for appointments, password resets, etc.)
Just make sure to send out emails with a purpose. Customers should feel like they have an incentive to pay attention to your emails. Following this rule will ensure that customers click on your company’s emails instead of unsubscribing or marking them to spam.
The content of your emails
Just like your call to action messages, the actual content of the emails should have tailored messages for certain demographics.
The best way to stay on top of this is by segmenting your email lists into specific groups based on similar interests. Your email contacts are likely a diverse group of users, so it’ll be hard to create a message that applies to everyone. That’s why segmenting is key to getting the attention of everybody.
MailChimp offers advanced segmentation by allowing small business owners to input a variety of data. Hubspot also has a content strategy tool that creates custom content based on user preferences. This data is then used to create precision targeting of customers based on the information used to group them. Here’s a few examples of the types of data used to segment users:
- Demographics: gender, age, and region are some of the basics for categorizing users.
- Purchase history: group users by the product categories they prefer, how often they purchase, and whether sales/promotions were purchase drivers.
- Customer loyalty: your emails should differ based on whether the customer is new, returning, or one of your most loyal customers.
- Whether or not the email contact engages and clicks on your emails.
After segmenting your email contacts, it becomes much easier to connect users to your small business platform with tailored messages based on their grouping. Engagement will improve, and sales will drive upwards.
Designing your emails
The design for your email marketing is another important component in crafting professional emails that will attract users to click.
Designs are definitely dependent on the type of small business you run, but in general, it’s important to not be over the top. Emails should be more simplistic and straightforward in order to not waste a customer’s time. After all, people receive a ton of emails per day. Customers want to get to the point when opening an email.
Your emails should come with a main takeaway. The most important information you want your customer to digest should be placed towards the top of the email. This is to ensure that if a customer only has time to quickly glance at an email, they’ll see what’s important. Consider organizing information in a hierarchical fashion, where the most important information is at the top and go down from there.
Always make sure your emails are able to adapt to the type of device the customer is using. Nothing is worse than a clunky page that is clearly not designed for mobile devices. Some people exclusively view emails on their phones, so keep this in mind. Be sure everything works on all devices, or else you’ll lose portions of your email lists.
call to action buttons on your emails that users can click on. The goal of your emails should be to bring in traffic to your business, so make that easy for the user. Include buttons that direct users to your site based on the content of the email. For example, if your small business sends out an email letting customers know of a new product, include easy to access links that take the customer straight to a webpage promoting the product. Don’t just take customers to your homepage, as they’ll have less motivation to keep clicking.
Analyze your email results
Don’t forget to properly evaluate the success of your email marketing campaign. Learn which emails are generating clicks, and which emails are being disregarded. Constantly evolve your email marketing based on incoming data to improve customer outreach and sales. MailChimp Reports and Hubspot CRM both cover extensive analysis of how users interact with your company’s marketing efforts.
What to AVOID when developing your email marketing strategy
While email marketing is completely legal, your company needs to avoid spamming as it can lead to blacklisting and even fines as high as $16,000 per infraction. This is a result of CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, which targets unsolicited spam and requires compliance with a variety of rules.
Buying email lists is a common shortcut to building up contacts to reach out to. However, there are quite a few drawbacks to doing this:
- There are never any good email lists for sale
- People on purchased email lists won’t know who you are
- There are multiple traps in place to combat spam and your sender score will plummet
If you’ve identified an email list that you can purchase, then it’s guaranteed that those emails have already been purchased by countless other marketers. As a result, they’ve likely been spammed too much to have any value by now.
Think about, if a company did have a good email list full of valid addresses, there’s no way they’d risk diminishing its value by selling it. That company most likely worked to get customers to volunteer their email addresses, so it will want to keep those addresses valid for its own sake.
Even if you did find a way to acquire a valid list of email addresses, people wouldn’t know your business or remember signing up for emails from you. This will likely result in being marked as spam since they have no idea why they’re receiving emails from your company.
Lastly, there are a number of ways in which spam is being combatted. Honeypots are a common way to identify a sender as spam. A honeypot is an email address that’s planted in email lists. If your business emails a honeypot, you’ll be marked as a known spammer. Additionally, spam traps are old and no longer valid email addresses that accepts senders instead of bouncing it back. Spam traps then report the sender and they get marked as a spammer.
Honeypots are spam traps are extremely common and your business is at risk of falling for them if you purchase email lists. Your email credibility will severely suffer as a result. Your company’s IP address will be put on probation and your Sender Score will take a nosedive. When this happens, the likelihood of any users receiving emails from you is next to nothing.
Ian is a student of Business at the Honors College at the University of Alabama.
Contact Ian at email@example.com
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