In June of 2013, I had the opportunity to present a workshop to a group of local small business owners and entrepreneurs in the Cecil County area. The presentation focused around the basic principles of email marketing, and covered basic steps to getting started with email marketing.
The presentation is embedded below, but I thought I would write out my thoughts and share here what I shared then.
The 5 Benefits of Email Marketing
One of the biggest changes to the business environment today, regardless of industry, is the incredibly shorter cycles by which businesses are required to operate under. This is particularly true if you are a small business, but it is true for the larger corporations as well.
The Internet has empowered your consumer-base with all the information needed for the buying cycle, and the proliferation of review sites means that both the negative and positives of your product or business will get wider dissemination. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. As an entrepreneur or business owner, the key is to jump in and embrace these same online tools for yourself. There is a lot that could be said about the many varied social media platforms, as well as digital marketing channels available, but today I’m focusing on email.
The following 2 benefits (and the next 3 in future posts) assumes you’ve done the leg work in order to effectively use email as a marketing and communication channel. So, once you have a clean, opted-in list of your customers, and you’ve set up clean, mobile-optimized, branded email templates, and you’ve accurately set your customer’s expectations as to what sort of value you will provide via email, you should be able to reap solid ROI on your time invested.
Compared to traditional channels like TV, print, or outdoor, email marketing affords you a much shorter turn around from the moment you decide you have something you need to share with your customers, to the moment it’s on it’s way to your customer’s inbox. Most email service providers provide the ability to save your email creative or template. And even if you’re planning on having a designer create a unique piece for each campaign, the process for creating, coding and testing an HTML email is substantially shorter than it would be for a print-piece.
The bulk of the time investment is going to be when you first start.
Measure, measure, measure!
The greatest blessing internet marketing has brought to businesses everywhere is the ability to measure the direct impact of your efforts. The most common mistake I see, even among high-paid digital marketing professionals, is the lack of clarity about what measurements matter. Don’t get caught up in the razzle-and-dazzle of digital metrics that do more for your ego as a digital marketer, and end up doing little to help you determine if you’re getting the results you’re looking to get.
If you’re running a brick and mortar shop, connecting the dots between your online efforts and your offline results may take some creativity and effort, but it is essential and it is possible. Think about using offer codes in your email, link to a printable coupons, or even social media tools like FourSquare to bring things together.
At the end of the day, you want to measure each campaign in terms of it’s effectiveness as a communication tool. Key metrics should include delivered, unique opened, clicked and most importantly unsubscribe/spam-complaints. The first 3 help you know when something is working. Unsubscribes or spam complaints help you know when you’ve missed the mark, or when you’re over-communicating with your customers. But, with the use of a basic analytics tool, you should also measure actual conversions (sign ups, online purchases, or even offline purchases). Make sure that for each campaign, you have a business and bottom line dollar value you can measure.
Be a Learning Organization
One last step needs to happen when it comes to measuring. Do something with what you learn. So many marketers fall prey to the stress of daily work grind and the pressures of deadlines, and once a campaign is out the door, they move on. You must build a standard, repeatable process by which you can study your metrics, and determine what is working and needs to be different going forward. This might include monthly touch-point meetings to review past campaign learnings, and to develop new testing strategies.
Check back in a few weeks for the second part. In the meantime, take a peak at the original presentation, and if you have any questions, feel free to leave it in the comments. If you are already doing email marketing, share a tip, success story, or favorite tool.