As it turns out, reports of the demise of email are greatly exaggerated. Did you notice that in order to sign up for a social media account on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ you must first provide an email address?
With all the attention on using social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter to stay connected to your customers, people sometimes forget that one of the best ways for businesses to stay socially connected is email. I'm not talking about spamming people with unsolicited email messages or purchasing an e-mail list. Opt-in email marketing to your current and prospective customers is a low-cost, high-return strategy.
Opt-in means that customers have given you permission to send them email. Customers can sign up on your website, while in your store, during the order process, on Facebook, and even by text message. The important thing is that you have permission to send them email communications.
Businesses use email marketing because it works.
The Direct Marketing Association puts email marketing's ROI for 2011 at $40.56 for every $1 invested. They estimate email will account for $67.8 billion in sales in 2012 (DMA report).
Most businesses get the majority of sales from existing customers and referrals. Your customers are already interested in your business, so use email marketing to stay on their radar. Email is the preferred method of commercial communication for 74% of adults (Merkle). Staying in touch by email can turn your customers into fans.
Many businesses don't realize if they publish a Facebook post, it is only seen by about 16% of their fans. Not all your posts show up in your fans’ news feeds, and many people do not return to a brand’s page on a regular basis. I know I have had the experience of missing posts from a company whose news I wanted to see, but it never appeared in my news feed!
Not every email you send ends up in someone’s mailbox either. That is why it is important to use an email marketing service like Constant Contact or AWeber. These companies have strong anti-spam policies and have developed relationships with the major email providers to ensure that permission-based emails you send get through to your customers.
I use and recommend Constant Contact’s tools, as they are easy to use and they have great resources in the way of reporting, templates, tips, and training. They offer a free, 60-day trial, and rates starting at $15 per month after that. Sixty days is enough time to evaluate the benefits to your business and see results. If you are new to email marketing, sign up with Constant Contact through my website and for a limited time receive an added bonus.
You can start right away with these steps to getting results in your business. If you already use an email marketing service, use the steps below to ensure you are making the most of it.
Six Steps to Successful Email Marketing
- First, make sure you are getting your customers e-mail and giving prospective customers the chance to sign up to receive communications from you as well.
- Set a schedule of when customers can expect communications from you. Regular communication is better than an e-mail sent here or there. Start with a time frame you know you can manage, but don’t spam people by sending too frequent emails.
- Plan your content. Send tips, pictures, event notifications, coupons and other news about your business or industry. Use an editorial calendar to make the process manageable.
- Keep the e-mail short and simple. Link back to your website for more detailed information.
- Make sure your message works on mobile. More and more e-mails are being read on mobile devices. The screen is smaller and may not display images. Make sure your phone number is click-to-call.
- Monitor your results. Tracking lets you improve your results over time.
Have you had successes with email marketing?