Email marketing can be an incredibly effective tool for small businesses. 68% of small business owners say email marketing is their most effective advertising channel.
Why use email marketing for small business
Through email marketing, small businesses can reconnect with customers (to hopefully bring them back in the door) and increase the number of services existing customers use. Email can also help drive traffic to both your website and your social media profiles. Businesses can use email to let customers know about:
- Tradeshows/events you plan to attend
- Webinars you are hosting
- Upcoming holidays (i.e., “Have you ordered flowers for Valentine’s Day yet?”)
- Seasonal news (i.e., “It’s time for your lawn’s first treatment – have you signed up yet?”)
- Sales and special offers
- New products/offerings
- Company news like moving or hiring new people
- Charity drives by the company
How it works
Ideally, an email newsletter is sent from an email service. Mail Chimp and Constant Contact are two examples. Yes, you can send a bunch of messages through your own email service (like Outlook or Gmail) but there are limits on the number of emails you can send at a time. And an email service provides a number of great features.
- The email service “spoofs” your email address – that means that to your customer, it appears that the email came from your company email address.
- When the message is sent, the mail service tracks how many people it was sent to, how many opened it (the “open rate”) and how many clicked on a link in the email (the “click-through rate”). Then you can see and download a report of all this information.
- The email service provides an easy way for your customers to unsubscribe from the email list if they wish, as required for businesses by the CAN-SPAM laws. At the bottom of each email sent, the service will insert an unsubscribe link – a link to ask to be removed from the mailing in the future. You don’t have to do anything to maintain the list of unsubscribed users – it happens automatically.
- You can add new customers and contacts to the email either manually, by uploading them from a spreadsheet, or through a small form on your website or Facebook page. This form is a great option because it makes it easy for people who are NOT currently your customers to sign up for your emails as well. One effective technique, in fact, is to have a pop-up window appear on your site which asks customers if they want to sign up for your email list and offers them an incentive to do so (like $5 off their next order).
- You can create an email template for your messages which is unique, but makes all your emails have a very similar look and feel. This is important for branding, but it also can help the customer feel they know what to expect and how to interact with your brand.
- Many email services provide the ability to do A/B testing of emails. This can allow you to get better at sending messages your customers will open and interact with.
How often should a small business send an email?
Really, the frequency of email marketing for small businesses varies from one business to the next. If you have a lot of news, specials which are constantly changing, and frequent new products, you may want to send an email weekly or even daily. However, this is too frequent for some customers, so if you choose to do this, you may want to have multiple email lists based on frequency. In a sophisticated email marketing program, if the customer asks to unsubscribe you would offer them an option to just reduce the frequency of the email instead. They may still chose to unsubscribe, but they may choose the options of fewer emails instead.
If you don’t have a lot of frequently changing news, a monthly email newsletter is probably your best bet. I think customers are more likely to stay on your list if they don’t feel your newsletter requires too much of their time. So, if it is infrequent, contains great information, and is easy to read, the customer is more likely to stick with your email program.
Have you ever considered using an email marketing program? Do you already use one? Has it proven to be effective for your business? Let us know in the comments.