If you’re like most small business owners, you spend a lot of time and money on marketing. You update your social media daily. You work on search engine optimization. Perhaps you blog or even host a podcast.
These marketing efforts are all critical to your success. However, make sure you don’t overlook one of the oldest, least expensive, and most effective online marketing tools: email.
We’re not talking about spam. Instead, you should consider sending opt-in emails to existing and potential customers to let them find out more about your company and what you have to offer.
Why Email Marketing is so Effective
Email has several advantages over other types of online marketing. Let’s look at a few of them.
- Full attention. When someone sees a Facebook post, tweet, or other social media about your business, they are likely to only give it a quick glance before their attention moves to the next post. With email, once someone opens an email, it usually takes up their full screen and you have their undivided attention.
- No gatekeeper. With SEO you’re at the whim of Google’s algorithms. You rely on Facebook to decide if your post is worthy of your customer’s time. Email, on the other hand, reaches every subscriber. Yes, it needs to avoid the spam filter, and Gmail does put promotional emails in a separate bucket. But in general, you don’t have to worry about a gatekeeper deciding if—or when—someone will see your content.
- Direct links. Instagram posts and YouTube videos can be a good way to market your company, but they often limit how you can link to websites. Email lets you link to as many websites as you want. Link to your homepage, link to a special offer, or link to your social profiles. Your customers are just one click away.
- A/B testing. Email marketing is very easy to A/B test. This means that you send different emails to different segments of your customer list. You can test subject lines to see which have the best open rate, or you can try different coupons to see what types of discounts result in the highest conversions. Almost all email marketing service providers make it very easy to do these kinds of tests.
- Long-form content. Sure, Twitter has increased the maximum size of a tweet to 280 characters, but that’s not usually enough to get across a message. Email marketing lets you go long-form. Dig into any topic you think your customers will find interesting, and include many types of content. With no length restriction, you’re free to get creative.
What Content to Use
Email marketing sounds good, but what in the world will you write about?
Get started by looking at other commercial emails you receive. Surely you are on email lists for restaurants, service providers (like Namecheap!), and e-commerce businesses you have purchased from in the past.
Here are some of the types of content you’ll find in these emails that might be good for your email marketing.
- Coupons. Offer discounts for in-store or online purchases. This can be a good way to re-engage with customers who haven’t bought anything recently. Since email can be sent instantly, it’s also a good way to promote flash sales. A juice store in Austin sends out “overstock” announcements with discounts whenever they have too much produce that is about to expire.
- Tips. Customers are more likely to open your emails if they frequently learn something from reading them, so include a tip relevant to your business. For example, a dry cleaner sends me tips, such as how to remove stains. An accountant can provide financial tips, a grocery store can give nutrition advice, and a massage therapist can give ideas for how to relax.
- Featured customers. People like to be talked about, so featuring one of your customers and how they use your product or service is a great way to promote your business and make customers happy. People are likely to forward your email to friends or post it on social media if they are featured.
- Promote your podcast or social media. Did you start a podcast? Link to it in your email marketing. Let customers know that you have new images from customers on your Instagram account or you have a contest running on Twitter.
- Seasonal changes. Email marketing is a great way to inform your customers about changes that come with different times of the year or upcoming holidays. For example, restaurants with seasonal menus can share those updates. Stores can highlight seasonal arrivals or holiday sales. Share whatever is new at your business.
Do Email Marketing Right
To run an email campaign, you will need to sign up for an email marketing service such as Mailchimp. This will make it easy to design, schedule, and track your email lists, and unlike using a personal email account, these services will give you a professional touch. They will also help you avoid the spam filter and make sure your emails stay within legal requirements.
In a future post, we’ll discuss how to get started with email marketing and link to some of the services you can use.
And make sure your business website is ready for all of the new customers you’ll get from your email marketing efforts. Namecheap offers great deals on hosting that will stand up to your increased sales traffic.