Guest post by Willie Pena
While new marketing trends tilt toward social media platforms, the tried-and-true email marketing campaign is still an effective tool for wooing clients and customers.
Researchers predict email promotions can boost customer acquisition by 7 percent a year and increase sales. Email campaigns are almost as effective as organic searches for driving audiences to brands. Companies can optimize their small business email marketing campaigns by heeding the following five strategies.
Create multiple opportunities to gather email addresses
An unresponsive email list is not worth the effort of your best email campaigns. Always look for more ways to grow your list. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to persuade current customers and prospects to turn over their email addresses:
- Require visitors to the company website or store to register for every action, whether it’s a saving in the shopping cart, buying a purchase or just establishing an account.
- Create contests and give-aways for which visitors must fill out a short form.
- Post free downloads on the site.
- Offer free seminars.
- Offer enrolment in reward clubs or coupon clubs.
- Have a forum.
- Allow comments on the blog section of your website and require an email confirmation before the comment is posted.
- Encourage people to email reviews, questions or suggestions.
- Have a Newsletter sign-up box.
Use both bulk email promotions & transactional email promotions
Bulk emails, while effective, often go unopened or straight to the spam folder. Small businesses are having success supplementing bulk mail campaigns that appeal to general audiences with transactional emails that offer one-on-one pitching and custom promotions based on past customer behaviour. When sending emails like welcome notices, account approval and shipping confirmations, small businesses should seize these follow-up opportunities to recommend goods and services and encourage participation in polls or social media.
Test and assess your campaigns
Testing can provide crucial information at every level of the email marketing campaign. Before finalizing the email prototype, use focus groups or surveys to test the appeal of the design, the subject line, the arrangement of branding elements, the configuration of ads, the strength of the promotion and the overall tone of the message. Before actually broadcasting the missiles, send first to employees and executives; have them open the messages using different email clients and different devices. Test whether or not all the features show up in different browsers and email programs. After the send, use apps to gather metrics on the open rates and conversion rates. Make improvement based on data collected.
Educate the recipients
List subscribers often get ad fatigue. They can become so accustomed to being sold something that they ignore emails. Avoid this by switching up the content; don’t always promote the company’s offerings. Instead, provide advice and link to a longer related company blog, or share details about community partnerships or the company’s social activism. This humanizes the company and builds relationships.
Send out your email campaigns at the most opportune time
Research by Experian reveals that not all times are good times to send an email blast. Open rates vary by industry, but in general the highest opening rate for bulk mail – 22 percent — occurs in the evening after people have left work and had dinner, such as between 8 p.m. and midnight. Such times also had better conversion rates. Transactional emails are nearly always opened at any time to day. If your small business lacks the staff to execute these tips, consider contracting with an email marketing service to save time or using an advanced email marketing & sales CRM software like Infusionsoft, an all-in-one sales and marketing automation software for small businesses.
A more detailed approach to Strategic Marketing is explained in depth in this earlier post “What is Lifecycle Marketing AND How Can I Make it Work for Me“.