For everything shiny-and-new in the media about social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, the tried-and-true method of email marketing continues to lead the pack of new media advertising alternatives. In fact, Datran Media’s annual survey of Fortune 1000 executives and agencies listed email marketing once again as the strongest performer of new media marketing. And the new “2010 Marketing Trends” survey from StongMail indicates that email marketing leads the list of marketing tactics in which business executives plan to increase spending in 2010.
Both big companies and sole proprietors still count on email marketing as a simple way to stay top-of-mind with prospects and customers. Businesses that utilize email marketing effectively find it one of the most cost-effective solutions to stay close to contacts while increasing sales in the process.
Despite the reality of spam filters and overflowing inbox’s, email marketing is very effective for small business owners ⎯ it’s inexpensive, the people you’re emailing (subscribers) have shown an interest in your product/service, and its ROI remains strong. According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing generated an ROI of $43.62 for every dollar spent in 2009.
Effective email marketing always begins with the right service provider. Thankfully, there are many good options these days to choose from; including Constant Contact, Aweber, iContact, MyEmma, and GetResponse, among others. I use Aweber (www.aweber.com) here at Website Blueprint and have no complaints. Their service does everything I need and they have great video tutorials and phone support, which is always important.
Once you have a form on your Web site that connects to your e-marketing service provider, you can begin to put the power of email marketing to work for you. Let’s take a look at some important things to remember so your email marketing is running on all cylinders.
- You Need a Persuasive Invitation
Rarely does just having a form on your Web site that says, “Sign-up for our e-Newsletter” produce maximum subscribers (or as I call them, “potential customers”). You need to offer something of value in exchange for a visitor to give you their email address, and that usually means a special report/article relevant to your business with helpful information they would like to read. Another helpful giveaway to include is a coupon or special offer.
- Don’t Abuse Your Relationship with Subscribers
Once a potential customer has filled out your web form and given you their email address, pay attention to how often you’re seen in their inbox. I recommend one or twice per month. Anything more may get them thinking about unsubscribing or clicking their spam button. Either way, you’ve lost a potential customer.
- Don’t Oversell-Be Helpful.
It’s appropriate to inform your subscribers about an upcoming promotion or sales event, but it’s even more important to provide special tips and advice that makes your business a source of helpful information. You can opt for one sales pitch and one tip each month, or you can include both the sales pitch and a special tip in each of your eblasts. Just make sure you never send two sales-only emails in a row.
- Understand CAN-SPAM Rules and Regulations
Don’t use false or misleading header information, no deceptive subject lines and remind recipients how to opt-out of receiving future emails from you. Be sure to get a copy of all the rules and regulations. There’s a link to the complete “CAN-SPAM Compliance Guide” at: www.websiteblueprint.com/can-spam
- Extend Your Brand to Your Email Messages
The look, feel and content of your email messages should complement the rest of your business and marketing persona. When subscribers receive an email from you, be sure that your brand is recognized in an inbox, just as it is on your Web site or your traditional marketing.
- Keep Subject Lines Interesting
Grab your subscribers’ attention in your subject line, otherwise your chance of them opening and reading your email drops dramatically. Avoid hype, and opt for creative or straight-forward subject lines that not only grab attention, but also describe what they can expect from your message.
More potential customers will visit your Web site than will ever pick up the phone or visit your physical location. And in the best-case scenario, they’ll probably only be at your site for a minute. But, by having an email marketing form and a smart offer to get them to sign up, you’ll have an opportunity to stay in touch with those subscribers over-and-over…until one day they become a paying customer. By incorporating email marketing, you’ll give yourself a great opportunity to stay top-of-mind and build your business in the process.