February 19, 2009
With today’s tough economic conditions, many small businesses are looking for ways to save money or at least make their money go a little further. When it’s time to trim costs, marketing budgets are often the first to get cut, especially if they contain expensive items like glossy printed pieces, a one-time radio ad, or pricey direct mail campaigns. To make your marketing dollars stretch further, you need to use high-impact, low-cost marketing strategies that get the word out about your business yet don’t break the bank. One low-cost strategy you can implement is an email marketing program to help you communicate with customers, target the right prospects, and market your business effectively without spending a lot of money.
In 2008, the Direct Marketing Association reported that the return on investment (ROI) for email marketing was more than $45 for every dollar spent on it. That’s amazing! Email marketing is also incredibly effective, since nearly 87% of adult internet users open the opt-in emails they receive from businesses (according to MarketingSherpa). With numbers like these, it’s easy to see how email marketing can help small businesses save money on marketing while reaching their target audience at the same time.
Email marketing, like other marketing strategies, is most effective when used consistently and with repetition. Research suggests that target audiences need to see a message anywhere from 3 to 7 times before they will take any action or respond. Many small businesses have found success with using a three-step approach to their email campaigns. For example, a typical example might be:
- Email #1: Educate recipients about your product or service, and highlight how it solves the problems they may be experiencing. Remember to focus on the benefits your customers will see by using your product or service, and try to avoid simply listing the features. Instead, specify what those features will do to improve life for your customers.
- Email #2: Educate recipients about how your company differs from the competition, and reinforce the message from Email #1 that highlights how your product or service benefits your customers.
- Email #3: Send recipients a great offer – now that you have educated them about how your company can help solve their problems and provide them with benefits, offer them an incentive to give you a call or place an order today.
Also, be sure to use a strong call to action in your email campaigns, and always provide recipients with multiple ways to contact you (via a web form on your landing page, a toll-free number, direct email links, etc.).
One critical component to your email marketing efforts is to always use a professional listserv service to send out your campaigns. Don’t risk appearing amateurish – or violating CAN-SPAM laws – by sending email campaigns from Outlook or other email programs! Also, make sure you select a listserv service that can provide you with delivery reports on click-thru rates, unsubscribes, bounces, and the number of opens for each campaign. That way, you can measure the effectiveness of your campaigns and track what worked so you can repeat it for future campaigns.
Segment Your List
Another benefit of email marketing is that you can segment your email list according to any criteria that you’d like. This enables you to send targeted emails with customized messages that are tailored to each specific market segment. With print advertising, targeting typically involves choosing a publication based on key demographics. But, publications like this still go to a very broad audience who may or may not even notice your ad. With email marketing, you can target the message according to whatever criteria is important to you, then send targeted emails to each segment of your list. And as mentioned earlier, nearly everyone who receives an opt-in email from a business will open it.
Investing in Results
Since email marketing can deliver a $45 ROI for every dollar spent, what percentage of your marketing budget should be devoted to an email marketing program? The trick to smart marketing in an economic crunch is to invest in the marketing strategies that deliver the best results, and drop the things that don’t contribute to your bottom line. By investing in email marketing, you can effectively communicate with your target market, help your business generate more leads, and ultimately improve sales, all while saving money. So if you’re looking for ways to cut costs, consider implementing an email marketing program for your small business and make that marketing budget stretch just a little further this year.
Lauren Hobson, President of Five Sparrows, LLC, has more than 16 years of experience in small business technology writing, marketing, and web site design and development. Five Sparrows provides professional web site and marketing services to small businesses and non-profit organizations, giving them access to high-quality services at affordable prices. To read articles or subscribe to Biz Talk, please visit www.FiveSparrows.com/biztalk.htm.