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Email Marketing 101: Basics For The Busy Business Owner

As much as any small business owner might want to personally nurture every single customer relationship, we all know the truth: it’s virtually impossible. For the average business owner constantly balancing good, fast, and cheap – email marketing is a rare and refreshing exception to the rule that delivers on all three.

Whether you’re re-engaging past customers, sealing the deal with prospects, or just staying top of mind for when a customer needs you next – every business should have an email marketing strategy to help make it happen. Not sure where to start? You’re in the right place. Below, we’ll guide you through the pillars of a sound email marketing strategy and how they can support your business goals.

Why every company needs an email marketing strategy

Yes, that means you!

Every company needs an email marketing strategy. Why? Because email is a standard form of communication in virtually everyone’s personal and professional lives. With a little effort, it can be the cheapest way to grow by connecting with your customers at scale. Unless you have the time (or team) to personally connect with every prospective customer – email marketing could very well be your most effective and efficient marketing tool. If you haven’t tried an email marketing strategy yet, consider these facts….

  • For every $1 you spend on email marketing there’s an average return of $38 (Constant Contact). That’s an ROI of 3,800%. While it’s true that every product or service is different,  that doesn’t mean a thoughtful email strategy is any less powerful – or cost-effective.

  • People are 2x as likely to sign up for your email list than interact with you on Facebook (Forrester

  • Personalized emails receive transaction rates that are 6x higher than others (MarketingLand)

  • 72% of customers prefer email as their source of business communication (MarketingSherpa)

  • 61% of customers enjoy receiving promotional emails weekly, and 28% would like emails to come more frequently (MarketingSherpa)

  • You own it. If a social media network shut down tomorrow, how many businesses would lose wide swathes of customers? Email marketing is owned media. Unlike social media or a fantastic search engine placement – your contact list is yours forever. 

Getting started with your contact list

The who behind your email marketing strategy

Like so many other business relationships, email marketing is fueled by your contact list – your audience. But this is no rolodex. While your contact lists can be as simple as a spreadsheet, once uploaded to your marketing tool of choice, the possibilities are staggering. To get your list, start with the customer emails you already have. If they’re not in your CRM or another digital format, it might be time to modernize (just a little).

Segmentation is the division of your email list into smaller chunks based on specific conditions like age, gender, company size, location, or even specific actions the contact made on your website. Once you’ve added a contact list to your email marketing platform of choice, you can begin to experiment with powerful functions like list segmentation.

If you don’t have a list, then you need to give people an incentive to join one. Whether you’re on your own or you have a small marketing team – this does not have to be labor or cost intensive. Need a place to start? Try one of these examples:

A link on your website to a page offering a sign-up form for a newsletter, with industry insights and special offers customers can’t get anywhere else.

A sheet of paper where you collect email addresses. Sure, it might take some time to transfer addresses, but it’s simple and it works. Unless you lose it.

An incentive offered to encourage potential customers to join your mailing list. Popular examples include a free or reduced service, a coupon, giveaway, or sneak-peak.

If your customer base spends any time on Facebook and you’re focused on increasing the size of your email audience – ad formats like Facebook’s Lead Ads are a great way to do it. Lead ads provide a direct way to opt-in to your emails with audience targeting almost guaranteed to reach your customer.

People like to give their opinion on things (Need proof? Just look at your local newspaper’s Facebook page). This is why a survey can be a great way to gain an insight into customer pain points for future content, while also providing an opportunity to gather contact information.

There are hundreds of ways to entice people to give you their email. Whatever your incentive is, make it clear, and don’t be afraid to promote it. But remember, it should help your reader save time, money, and/or energy.

Check Member Center often for frequently updated guides and how-to’s on how to grow your contact list and continue utilizing email marketing for your business.

Next is your “why” and your “what

Because every successful plan requires a goal

Like anything in your business, your success with email marketing all comes down to establishing your goals and understanding your audience. What do you hope to accomplish and why should your customers care what you’re sending?

Campaign Monitor reports that the average person receives up to 121 business emails a day (spam included). Whether you’re a sole proprietor or you have a team to support you – If you follow a strategy with goals in mind and put the customer first at all times, you’ll consistently break through that noise to reach more customers, more reliably.

Basic goals for email marketing

From attracting and engaging your audience, to guiding, nurturing, and converting them into loyal customers – email marketing can help you accomplish a wide range of goals. The answer to why you’re using email marketing will help drive what you’re sending, to who you’re sending it to.

When it comes to establishing your email marketing goals, consider the following common goals:

Building awareness

Email marketing is one of the best tools for building awareness for your business, a particular service, or an event you’re hosting. Unlike a TV advertisement or social media, email is all about you and the customer. No noise. Even if they don’t open it right away – your subject line conveys a lot and until it’s deleted, your message lasts forever.

Boosting conversions

There’s no other format that can inform your customer about a special product, service, or event and give them the immediate ability to take action. You’ve seen it before because it works! This is often where segmentation enters the equation, giving small businesses powerful flexibility to recommend items or services related to an original purchase. This is an easy way to increase your lifetime customer value with very little investment.

Improving the customer experience

The ability to nurture customer relationships through emails cannot be understated. From a simple appointment reminder or tracking email to an important product notice – providing vital information via email is a good way to get closer to the customer, while making their life easier. When it’s easy to do business with you, it’s easy to do repeat business with you.

…a word on spam

But I don’t want to spam my customers”

Then don’t. It’s that simple. It’s important to remember that email marketing isn’t spam, nor is it a letter to a friend. It’s strategic communication. Done right, it can transform your business and help your customer. Everyone wins.

Spam is all about the product, all the time. It’s noisy, obtrusive, irrelevant, and repetitive. Email marketing is helpful and relevant. It’s a simple touchpoint to make your audience aware of new opportunities, important updates, or valuable insights. But it must have value. Otherwise they might opt-out, or unsubscribe.

Rather than focusing on your menu of products or services alone, consider the problems they solve or the scenarios you can help with. Some businesses use email marketing to simply share stories from behind the scenes.

Did you know?
 The term “spam” as we know it was popularized by a 1970 episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, where the pink, packaged lunch meat is used to fluff-up the menu at a local cafe.

Looking for a head-start?

Understanding the basics of email marketing means you’re one step closer to making the most of it, and your member marketing benefits can help.

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