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Email Marketing Tips for Small Business
Remember the time when people had to spend hours making photocopies and sealing envelopes just to send out newsletters and coupons? Thank goodness we don't have to do that anymore. With email marketing, we not only minimize preparation time and communication costs, but also get results more quickly and are able to communicate with customers on a more frequent basis. Email is a powerful marketing tool you should utilize no matter how big or small your business is. However, some email marketing strategies that work for big nationwide corporations may not do the same for small local companies. As a small business owner, you need to develop specific email-marketing solutions that will drive more traffic to your website, expand your customer base, build loyalty and increase sales. The following are some effective email marketing tips that will allow you to do it all by yourself without paying high fees to email marketing services or list brokers.
Email Marketing Tip # 1 - Opt-In Email Marketing
The way you compile your list of recipients is as important as the way you compose your emails. Many internet users are very concerned or even paranoid about computer viruses; they don't like receiving emails from obscure sources. If they get an email from well-known companies, such as Amazon or Target, they might take a look and respond even if they didn't ask for the information. On the other hand, if they have no idea how they got on your email marketing list and the name of your company doesn't ring a bell, the chance they might open the email and read your message is very thin. Besides, small business is all about brand building. You won't succeed in doing that by making people think you're spamming their inbox.
A free and legitimate way to find genuine internet customers is to offer an "opt-in option" for new visitors who have registered or bought a product at your website. Usually, it is just a short message stating "Yes, I would like to receive emails and newsletters from your site." All the customers have to do is click on the check box in front of it. This is not the only way to acquire your target customers' email addresses, though. The yoga studio and small local theatre I have been visiting, for example, always ask new visitors to fill out their information in person rather than electronically. I have been receiving their newsletters on a regular basis, regarding new courses, workshops and plays. Not once did I delete their emails without at least skimming through them first.
In summary, email marketing is an effective way to maintain an ongoing relationship with your customers as well as develop a business with people who have expressed some interest in your products or services. It is not advisable to use email marketing to pitch your business to "cold prospects."
Email Marketing Tip # 2 - Befriending Your Customers
No, I didn't mean you should ask them out for coffee! While big corporations might be able to excel in marketing by using traditional ads or coupon offers, small businesses can use newsletters as a way to provide useful information to customers while also promoting their own products or services. Instead of using obvious marketing hype, give your customer friendly tips every once in a while, or ask them to share their experience of using your products. Show that your company is not all about getting into people's wallets. That's how you can gradually build trust and loyalty among customers.
For example, if your store sells food products, maybe you should share a couple recipes, using certain products from your store as main ingredients. If your company offers diabetic shoes, perhaps you should discuss new studies about diabetes or some healthy tips in your newsletters sometimes. Also, try to make your newsletters sound customer-focused rather than self-serving by including a poll, customer satisfaction survey, testimonials or customers' success stories.
Email Marketing Tip # 3 - Formatting Your Emails
You're not the only one sending out emails to people. Try to think of ways to make your messages stand out and shout "read me!" Format your email in an eye-catching and easy-to-read style. One nifty tactic to do this is to subscribe to your competitors' emailing list, see how they format their messages, and try to come up with new ideas to make your emails look different and more interesting than theirs. This may sound a little sneaky but there's actually nothing black hat about it. Successful internet marketers are often the ones that have spent some time studying their competitors.
One caution: don't get too crazy about the visual pizzazz. Fancy formatting is great as long as your recipients can see it. But due to the differences in software and filter settings, some people may not be able to read your graphic-rich message or open your attachments at all. So don't bombard your email with numerous graphics. Also, be careful with the way you handle attachments. Avoid attaching extra large files that might take too long to fully load. Plus, it might be helpful to let your customers know what file format you're sending and what program they need in order to open it.
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Email Marketing Tip # 4 - Timing, Timing, Timing!
Some internet users receive hundreds of emails a day. Sometimes they just really don't have time to look at yours or might not be in the right mood for it. Mondays and Fridays are especially bad. Monday morning is when people return to work after their weekend hiatus; they're inclined to just quickly sift through all the emails and get their work going as soon as possible. Friday afternoon is when most people are anxious to leave the office or they might be busy trying to finish up everything for the week. Not a great time to read email ads or newsletters, either. To better your chance of having your emails noticed, don't send out your email marketing messages on those days.
Also, think about how long beforehand you should send an email to inform your customers about a sales promotion or special event. To advertise special Christmas sales, many stores usually send out emails to customers in November or even earlier. Sometimes, just one email might not be enough whereas sending the same message over and over will only encourage your customers to opt out of your emailing list. I think my local theatre has a pretty good strategy on this. In the beginning of the month, they usually email me information about the plays or movies for the following month so that I'll have time to plan ahead. And as the month is about to end, they'd send me another reminder about those upcoming programs just in case I have forgotten about them.
Email Marketing Tip # 5 - Analyzing and Adjusting Your Email Marketing Strategies
Not a lot of people can get email marketing right the first few times. Learn from your trials and errors. See what types of messages seem to encourage more responses, click-throughs or sales. Then compare them to the other messages that have received very few responses and ask yourself what might have rendered them unsuccessful. Did they look like spam? Were they too long or too short? Did they deliver a clear message? Were your emailing dates and times appropriate? Was your language too vague or too flowery? Did your links work? If you offer an opt-out option, it is wise to also ask those people who want to unsubscribe to give you a brief reason. Adjust your email marketing strategies according to your analysis. Just don't give up. Even Einstein didn't get stellar results every time he did his experiments.