Email marketing is still essential!

Tips on getting started and planning strategies for the greatest reach.

I visited with a potential client last week to discuss their digital marketing. We went over their social accounts and all looked great. Next, I asked about their email marketing, they were sending an email every other month at best and had no real strategy for growing their email list. That said, it is a common trend now that small business owners feel their social media is enough for their digital marketing presence. I see this more and more which is surprising because email marketing remains one of the most effective, inexpensive marketing channels available. On average, email marketing delivers an ROI of $42 for every $1 spent. So long story short, to ignore your email channel is a mistake! Social media is a piece of the digital marketing puzzle, it is essential to have all your channels working together to be where customers are looking.

This month, I’ll cover a few reasons why email marketing is important, tips on getting started, and planning strategies for the best reach and return…so let’s jump right in!

The number one reason email marketing is essential is you own it! When it comes to your social media accounts, like it or not, the social media companies own those followers and your pages. You are at the mercy of algorithm changes, what’s popular, and hard to understand social media policy. In a blink of an eye, your ability to market your business is gone. There is no argument that social media is an essential part of your digital marketing strategy, but I would suggest taking it to the next level and preparing a plan to entice your social media followers to join your email list. In this way, you own the relationship and can communicate directly with your potential customers.

The largest obstacles for email marketing are you and the daunting idea of building your list! You must overcome how “hard” you think it might be. You may feel overwhelmed at the idea of creating content for yet another digital marketing channel, but actually the content you create for your social media channels can be repurposed for use in your email marketing. The key here is to work smarter, not harder. Repurpose your content, switch up a few items in the layout, then boom push send…and send a second and even third time in the same month.

The next challenge is creating and building your email database. No list is too small, so start a list and begin communicating regularly! Begin with your current customers, friends, and family. You’ll want to select an email marketing program to manage your email marketing, such as Constant Contact or MailChimp. These programs will manage your unsubscribes, the email database collection, the schedule of email sending, and the creation/design of your email blasts with your business branding.

A couple important notes about email marketing:

  • Email marketing is permission-based, you may not buy a spam email list and market to them using Constant Contact or MailChimp. You must grow your database organically, ask people if they want to be on your list. Also, be ok with opt-outs, if they aren’t interested then move on to those who are. The cleaner your email list is, the more ROI it will give you.
  • Small businesses must use a company like Mailchimp or Constant Contact when sending out an email to your database. There are hundreds of email marketing companies in different price ranges with different capabilities depending on how sophisticated you want. Below are a few reasons your business should utilize an email marketing company (you can also read in more detail on the Constant Contact blog).
    • Your personal email account is for one on one communication, not bulk emails, so ISPs like Gmail and Yahoo limit the number of emails you can send at one time. In addition, sending thousands of emails from a Gmail or Yahoo account will land your communication in the Spam box of most people. Companies like Constant Contact work directly with ISPs to follow policy and limit your email from ending up in spam. It’s not 100%, but your delivery rate will be much higher.
    • Managing opt-outs is required and when you are sending emails from your Gmail or Yahoo account, it’s challenging to manage opt-outs. Per CAN-SPAM laws, you must allow people to opt-out and email marketing companies handle these unsubscribes in their services.
    • You have great ability to create professional-looking emails that are on-brand.
    • They allow you to manage your list quickly, remove bad email addresses, and easily set up segmentation.
    • Reporting is included and full of valuable information for your business growth. You can see opt-in, click-through, and open rates of each email which can be used for future email blasts .

To get started with email marketing is simple, begin by signing up for a Constant Contact 30-day free trial (allows up to 100 email addresses during the trial), thereafter, the cost of Constant Contact starts at $20 per month. I recommend Constant Contact because with a paid subscription you have access to their support resources. As a small business owner, you might not be tech-savvy and their support team will be there to assist. Plus, Constant Contact offers tons of free training. Mailchimp has a free product for up to 2000 email addresses, however there is no support available for the free product and a lot of the features are disabled such as scheduling emails.

Now that you have your email company picked out, start strategizing your email marketing plan. Most small businesses never sit down and plan their marketing, but just like any other marketing branch, you need to have a plan for your emails. For example, the holidays are NOT a surprise, they come every year and you should have a plan on when to start marketing them and for how long! Take the time and plan each quarter, giving yourself time to be thoughtful about your marketing. Make sure all your marketing efforts are aligned then promote that message via email, social and in-house. A synergetic message from all your marketing platforms is the best for brand recognition. The more you can align your marketing, the more return you’ll see on marketing dollars. To give you an idea of the numbers you need, you can think about it like this: 15-20% of people will see your content, then out of that 15-20%, you’ll get a 1-2% click-through rate, and out of that maybe 1% will take action. Do the math on your numbers, and you’ll see why you need to be in multiple places with the exact offers to move the needle on your marketing.

To strategize your plan, I suggest a simple spreadsheet. We use these with our clients, each month labeled and all major holidays/events listed. It’s hard to think ahead at times, but you need to think through your marketing plan to be successful. Success doesn’t just happen, it takes time, planning, execution, and analyzing the results.

Now let’s get to it! Begin by planning the next month’s emails, when you will send them and what each theme will be. I would suggest no less than once per month for effectiveness and, if you have the capacity, I would recommend more depending on the type of business you are running. Now that you’ve decided how often you’ll communicate, start thinking about what your customers might like to know about and select the topics from there. If you are a restaurant, promote Happy Hour, events, new dishes, holidays that are coming up, or anything you want to brag about that will provide value to your customers! Need ideas? Subscribe to email lists of similar businesses, see what they are sending and check out their designs. This will help you with inspiration on what type of content to send.

Next, design the emails. Canva is a great tool to use when creating simple graphics to wow in your email marketing. In the development stage, create all the emails you’ll need for the entire month. Depending on your business, you can reuse those emails a few times throughout the month with minor tweaks (subject line or special date stamps revised) to increase your monthly email campaigns. Don’t worry, people don’t remember what you sent last week! And if you start to pay attention to your inbox, you’ll notice that most companies sending emails are reusing content throughout the month.

And finally…schedule those emails! The most crucial part of email marketing is to be consistent and provide value to your subscribers. Regardless of whether your subscribers read your email, seeing your business name in their email helps your business stay top of mind so when they are ready to make a purchase, your name comes to mind! It’s all about repetition and staying in contact. So get started, I can assure you that your competitors are already on it!

Reach out if you would rather outsource the job. We can assist in setting up your email marketing strategy as well as be in charge of your monthly design creation and scheduling of all email blasts. LASK is your digital marketing manager, let us help with our knowledge and expertise!