Email is perhaps the most overlooked method of digital marketing today.  Not only does everyone have and use email daily, most of us feel like we can’t breathe without it.  It’s the mainstream of business communication. What’s more, email marketing has one of the highest returns on the dollar.  So one would ask, why is it so overlooked?

3 Reasons Small Businesses are Shy to Utilize Email Marketing:

1. It requires a time investment.
2. Everyone hates SPAM.
3. Fear of writing content.

We’ll gloss over the time argument simply because you wouldn’t be reading this article if you didn’t believe marketing your business is worth the time.  And if you see the importance but don’t have time to invest yourself, you can hire some qualified help for this portion of your marketing strategy and just read/approve what is sent out.

A common hesitation (or resistance) is that most small business owners do not want to be viewed as hated “SPAM” in the box.  This makes them a little shy about venturing into email marketing.  What’s important to note it you are NOT supposed to be the spam!   And with a few basic strategies in place, you won’t be.  We’ll address content as part of the strategies below to help you be “Spam-free” and efficient.

Strategies to Ensure You are Not SPAM (and are READ).

1. Use a Can-SPAM Compliant Solution or System.

Never (ever) send bulk or marketing email from your individual email account.  It is very important that your marketing and bulk communications come thru a system that allows users to actually unsubscribe.  In addition to ensuring your email address and IP address are not “blacklisted,” utilizing a legally Can-SPAM Act compliant system also helps ensure your audience actually receives your email in their inbox.  Email marketing systems take on the not only the formatting, template, and compliance issues, they also help ensure your mail is not “junked” automatically.

Google “email marketing” and you’re going to see a load of options (and opinions).  Email marketing is permission-based which means customers to control the types of communications they receive, but they also can help you grow your customer base by recommending and sharing your information and offers with others.  If you provide compelling and relevant content, your readership will grow and your sales will too.

2. Be Relational and Memorable.

Email marketing is one way you can by helpful, visible and relational for minimal cash investment and moderate time investment.  The content you provide is up to you… so make sure you spend some thought and time on the subject lines, headlines and topics you select. If you want customers to read your “news” and “specials” make them targeted, personable and use a friendly “helpful” tone.

Humor (carefully selected and well-done), sentimental images… everyone loves a positive, moving or funny experience.  Make sure you are real, relational and most importantly relevant.  Give your readers a reason to open your mail and stay tuned in!

3. Be Purposeful – Get Traction.

When preparing your email marketing, remember your audience and your purpose.  Don’t forget why you are investing in this effort.  Make the most of your efforts by including strong visuals and clear call-to-action options.  Common uses of email marketing include:

  • Reward Loyalty – offer special discounts, early bird offerings or other benefits to your loyal customers.
  • Educate/Inform clients – industry trends, coming changes, seasonal reminders… the list is practically endless.
  • Promote New Products or Services  – they’re already interested. Let them know what’s the latest offering!
  • Remain Visible – publishing at regular intervals keeps your name in front of your clients.  You don’t have to pummel the inbox… but keep a regular schedule. Depending on your staffing, skills and comfort level, you may publish once a week, every 2 weeks or even once a month.  Just make it reasonable and stick with it.
  • LINK BACK – periodically post specials, ads or teasers that link back to your website for products, coupons or articles.  You want your loyal customers to visit your site, interact, shop, leave comments, etc… encourage traffic in that direction.

4. Track & Measure.

Most all of the email marketing suites include tracking, surveying and other tools to gather information and measure return on investment (ROI).  You can publish, publish, publish… but what matters is how often you are read and what responses you get.  Ask for honest feedback, track the data, and be willing to be responsive and adjust.  If you listen to your audience and give them what they want, you’ll grow your contacts, leads and sales.

Fear Will Foil Your Efforts.

Never let fear of writing content keep you from reaching out and connecting with your customers.  If you’re not a “wordy birdy” solicit help from a team member who is a confident writer.  Plenty of resources exist online for topic help and research.  You can also contract out writing services to professionals who can help you with organizing your thoughts and keeping your writing schedule consistent.

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Cindy is the founding President at 17blue Digital Agency. She's passionate about helping businesses create traction for their brands, reach their goals and make a difference in their communities.