If you are a struggling artist or singer, a stay-at-home parent starting a home business, or someone who’s stepped out of the corporate world to work on a start-up, a small email marketing campaign is an affordable and effective way to promote your business.
For a small business, you won’t need a large budget for an email solutions package (ESP) — many packages won’t charge you at all for a very small list and/or once a month or bi-weekly mailing. Pricing for larger packages is incremental, usually around $10-50 per month, for a monthly contract.
You could consider getting started with your own email software, such as Gmail or Outlook, but you won’t have the benefits off an ESP’s full array of tools, such as professional templates, analytics tracking like open rates and click-throughs, and social media integration. ESPs have dozens of tools to control your campaign and track your business, which can save you time and make your email campaign more effective.
Planning your Email Marketing Campaign
The primary reason small businesses should use email marketing is to remind your customers of your brand, keep them updated as you grow your business, and to inform them of new developments.
Email marketing should be an integrated part of your online presence, where fans and customers can get to know you and gain insights from your page other than just promotion of new info.
Absolutely, you should use your email newsletters to inform them of new products or a new video, but ask yourself, how does this newsletter article benefit them? Is it informative? Does it offer a solution?
Adding Value to Your Newsletters’ Content
To avoid your emails sounding too me-me-me, offer your readers quality, varied, interesting content. Talk beyond your brand, such as:
- Inviting guest-bloggers.
- Respond to news and issues. Set up Google alerts so you are informed and timely about important, breaking news in your field.
- Integrate your email marketing with your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and your blog, so you can keep track of your fanbase and readership. If you know about your customers, you can deliver more informed, targeted messages.
- Offer incentives for signing up to the newsletter, such as a free demo of your app, a branded t-shirt, or a free song download.
How often should you send?
It depends on what you have to say, but most new email newsletters should set a schedule (and stick to it!) of once a month to once every three months. If you’re sending out weekly updates that are repeated product promotions, you’re sending too often. If your readers seem to forget you exist, you need to step it up.
Communicate with Your Customers
As a small business, your best route to gaining customers is building popularity with a personal touch. Respond to emails and messages left on social media. Set up an email address dedicated to your email marketing and check it about an hour after you send out your newsletter. Maintain a positive, professional voice, no matter the question asked.
That doesn’t mean you have to allow any kind of conversation on your blog; you may sometimes need to block or shut down inappropriate conversation. But do so professionally: do not resort to bickering or trying to prove you are “right;” remember there are thousands of customers silently watching the exchange. State your company policy over the issue, and move on.