Every small business needs to use email marketing. Even if you don’t plan on using it right away, you should start capturing subscribers now for when you are ready to begin your email marketing campaign. You might be tempted to rely on your RSS feed or FeedBurner to send emails of your blog posts, but you would be missing out on a huge opportunity to provide other great content to build your audience and grow your small business.
Email marketing is not dead. Just look at the websites you visit and you will see that most, if not all, of them ask for your email address. Everyone has an email address and they usually check it once a day, if not more. Not everyone has a Facebook or Twitter account.
5 Reasons to Use Email Marketing
1. You Receive Permission
When someone provides you with their email address, they are giving you permission to send them messages. This means you better send them great content or they will unsubscribe, but it does means you have a captive audience that actually wants to hear what you have to say. That’s a powerful tool.
2. You Stay Front of Mind
Your message needs to be heard about 8 times on average before a prospect will take action. Email marketing is a great way to do that unobtrusively. Email is very targeted so you can easily provide content that engages your audience. Over time your subscribers learn about you and trust you. When they are ready to buy, they will think of you first.
3. You Get Free Market Research
What better way to find out what your target audience wants than to ask them? Email marketing let’s you ask for feedback, collect information about your audience (through polls and questionnaires, for example), and engage with them far more personally then you would be able to through other platforms.
4. Email is Personal
Modern email service providers make it easy for you to personalize the emails you send. This builds trust and increases engagement. Many of the email lists I join offer me something unique that non-subscribers don’t receive, like special content and offers. They also let me hit “reply” to ask questions or send a message. I feel like the message is for me specifically and I’m more interested because of that.
5. Email Marketing Builds Your Audience
By providing valuable content you can position yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Your audience will grow as subscribers forward your emails and visit your website for more great content. You’ll build relationships with you audience that keeps them coming back for more.
How to Build Your Email List
Building your email list takes a little time. That doesn’t mean you should go out an buy an email list‚Äö√Ñ√Æthat’s a bad idea. What is important is that you start building your email list now. Once you have a few subscribers, start sending them emails. People can’t forward emails you don’t send!
Offer your audience a great reason to join your email list. You will be sending them great content, of course, but they need something to entice them to part with their email address. Demonstrate the value of signing up with a great call to action. Offering an incentive, like an ebook or access to special content, is a great way to encourage subscriptions.
Make sure your opt-in form is clearly visible on the page without scrolling.¬¨‚Ä†Place it on all of your pages where it makes sense (and consider adding it to the footer of your website). Only ask for the information you absolutely need (email address and maybe name). It’s also a good idea to have a dedicated landing page for subscriptions‚Äö√Ñ√Æthis makes it easy to refer people to the page and it’s good for SEO.
Email Marketing Tips
One of the most important things you can do to build trust is through your emails is to send them from a real email address. Avoid the “firstname.lastname@example.org” or generic “email@example.com” email addresses. These are impersonal and they make it hard for your subscribers to reach you. You want them to be able to reach you! They might want to ask about your products or services. Using a real email address, with your regular email signature, that your subscribers can reply to will build trust and help form relationships.
Emails don’t have to be fancy. Many people prefer plain text emails without images and flashy formatting. Aside from being easy to read, plain text emails are easier for subscribers to focus on without being distracted. They will feel compelled to read the entire email, just as if the message was sent from someone they know. Plain text emails will always display correctly in any email program and on any mobile device. Subscribers won’t have to click a special button to display images that their email program blocked‚Äö√Ñ√Æmeaning there is no doubt about the safety of email.
Always be consistent in providing good content. Your subscribers will expect to receive messages on a regular basis. Failing to provide it will cause a lot of them to unsubscribe the next time they receive your email.
Keep your email messages around 300-500 words. People prefer short emails. If the email is too long they might not read it.
There is a lot of debate about how often you should send emails. Certainly you should be sending out emails at least once a month, though sending weekly or twice monthly is better. Subscribers to your blog posts will, of course, expect an email every time a new post goes up.
Balance marketing messages with great content. Your subscribers will expect some marketing, but keep it reasonable. Trying to constantly sell to your subscribers will drive them away. A good split is 90% content that is not intended to sell anything and 10% that is. You can increase (or decrease) this as it makes sense for your small business, though I would be wary of having more than 25% of your emails about selling.
Consider using an email service provider. I talk more about those below.
Email Marketing Services Providers
Using an email service provider makes it easy for small businesses to capture subscribers for their email list. They offer resources to help you get started, create fantastic email marketing campaigns and help you through the entire process so you send great emails to your subscribers.
MailChimp helps you design email newsletters, share them on social networks, integrate with services you already use, and track your results. Their service is free for the first 2000 subscribers making them perfect for small businesses just getting started.
Aweber is a popular service with a lot of features that help you create and send professional emails. They currently have a promotion for the first month for $1.
Constant Contact has affordable service and is currently offering the first month free.
Subscribe2 is a free WordPress plugin that sends email notifications to a list of subscribers when you publish new content to your blog. We use Subscribe2 to send blog notifications to our subscribers.
There are many other email service providers, some that are very powerful. For the small business, these offer the best features for a great price. Email marketing is a great way for your small business to build an audience. Using an email service provider and the email marketing tips I covered, you will start growing your small business and build great relationships with your customers.
Need help setting up your email marketing campaign? Contact us to learn how we will help your small business develop a great email marketing campaign.