Throwing a pile of greenbacks into a burning fire pit in your backyard is an incredibly effective way to waste a lot of your marketing budget, but so are many of the trendiest marketing techniques out there.
Instead of tossing more bills to the proverbial flames, your small business should focus on proven effective marketing channels, like email, as an advertising foundation. It may not hold the thrill that it did back when “You’ve Got Mail” was the one phrase Americans couldn’t get enough of, but not surprisingly, the familiarity and convenience of email has helped it remain a favorite communication medium.
Email marketing is so effective, in fact, that Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s 2016 State of Marketing report recently showed that marketing leaders are finding direct links between email marketing and their business’ primary revenue sources for the third year in a row.
In 2015, 20 percent of marketers reported these findings, but at the beginning of 2016, that number increased 249 percent. Just under half of the marketers reporting this year found a direct link between their email marketing efforts and their revenues. If there was a better endorsement for this well-worn communication medium, we’ve not seen it. But this blog is about, among other things, small business email marketing tips and tricks, so let’s get to it.
Tip #1: Consent Marketing is Key to Email Success
We’ve all gotten those spam emails that promise a better love life, discount iPhones or riches beyond belief from a long, lost relative (if only we’ll wire their lawyer a few thousand dollars to get the process rolling).
That’s not the kind of email marketing we’re talking about – spam is by and large the most despised thing on the Internet, right up there with pop-ups, autorun videos and websites that play music in the background. When you’re looking to grow your email list, the most important thing to ask yourself is if your mailing list actually wants to be getting email from you.
Consent email marketing is really simple. This is all about giving people the choice of opting in to your email list, either in a physical store or on your website. Salesforce asked marketing experts about their experience with consent marketing, too.
They rated these among the most effective consent marketing email campaigns:
- Loyalty programs (79 percent)
- Exclusive deals (78 percent)
- Promotional content (77 percent)
- Event invitation (75 percent)
- Welcome series (75 percent)
The least effective email campaigns, according to the survey and perhaps not surprisingly, are press releases. Sometimes they’re still necessary, though, so don’t discount them out of hand just because this survey says they weren’t as effective. Your audience may love press releases.
Tip #2: Create Awesome Giveaway Content
Do you want to know a secret? There’s something you know a whole lot about that your main audience is really interested in exploring. Maybe along with selling the most lightweight backpack frames known to mankind, you also happen to be a certified ninja wilderness survivalist. That’s stuff your camping friends might want to know, you know? And it’s the kind of thing that visitors to your website would be willing to sign up to your email list in order to get.
Awesome giveaway content, special content, from someone just like you is in huge demand online. Generic advice cranked out from a third-party position will only get you so far, but if you can give your visitors a little eBook with really detailed instructions on how to tie useful camping knots or start a fire using nothing but human hair and an empty Dasani bottle, you’ll see your email list sign-ups increase overnight.
The trick is to both provide your market with something closely related to your niche and to give them just a taste – something useful, but not overwhelming. If your first piece of awesome giveaway content is wildly popular and creates new paying customers, it may be worth developing an email blast devoted to that type of content in the future. You can play with adding marketing messages inside your awesome giveaway content that link directly to products in your online shop, then put an eye to the analytics to see if your customers are the kind that will buy an item simply because you recommend it.
Tip #3: Don’t Forget Your Fans
No collection of email marketing campaign tips would be complete without at least mentioning integrating social media into the delicate dance.
So many small businesses have incredible social media followings, but they really don’t do anything with them – they sort of know they need social media and they get social and they have a community that follows them, but then it falls flat.
Social media is making it easier and easier to convert those fans into email followers, but you can’t assume they’re going to know what to do or how to connect to you. Facebook’s Call to Action button is one way you can give your fans the opportunity to sign up for your email campaign, but you can also use plain old Facebook advertising. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to easily target audiences down to precise details including location, age, gender and keyword-based interests.
Of course, Facebook isn’t the only party on the block. Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram all have easy to use, inexpensive advertising modules that make it easy to push your email list to your followers. Paid social media marketing makes it really easy to reach users wherever they happen to be. Just make sure you’ve got some kind of presence on that social media platform before advertising or your new fans may fail to find you.
If you’re looking for something a little more organic, just keep doing what you’ve been doing on social media to keep the interest up, but start asking for email sign-ups now and again. You can use Buffer or HootSuite to schedule those pleas, but organic reach isn’t what it used to be – you’ll have to be patient to build email following through social media this way. Don’t go over the top, just keep it simple. “Please sign-up for our email list for even more special offers,” is a great place to get started.
Growing your small business email list doesn’t have to be painful or particularly complicated. Sometimes, just letting your visitors know you have an email list and making it easy to sign up for is all it really takes. If your audience needs a little more incentive, some really awesome giveaway content might motivate them, too, even if you don’t happen to be a certified ninja wilderness survivalist.