5 Secrets to Email Marketing Success for Small Businesses

DebraEllis
Debra Ellis President, Wilson & Ellis Consulting

Posted on April 10th 2014

5 Secrets to Email Marketing Success for Small Businesses

Email marketing is the best kept secret in small business. Even though it is one of the most effective and affordable ways to stay in touch with customers and prospects, there is hesitancy about using emails to their fullest potential. When asking clients why they don’t start or ramp up email marketing campaigns, the answers are remarkably similar. They are lack of time, fear of being considered a spammer, and not enough skills.

The three top issues are easily remedied. Email service providers (ESP) have streamlined the process with templates and automation that allows small business owners to create effective campaigns without investing significant time or having extensive skills. The fear of being considered a spammer can be eliminated by simply following the CAN-SPAM rules. This is easy to do because ESP’s have compliance built into their system.

Create an effective email marketing program begins with defining the strategy that you will use to acquire addresses and engage subscribers. Once the strategy is defined and the initial content pool is created, maintenance is minimal. If you start small and build a solid foundation, your email marketing strategy is guaranteed to succeed. You’ll be able to capitalize on the benefits of email marketing that include lead generation, sales, and customer retention.

The secrets to success in email marketing aren’t glamorous but they consistently work to convert prospects to customers and keep customers coming back. They are:

  1. Consistency – Successful email marketing campaigns are consistent. Emails are sent at least once a month so subscribers are receiving messages that keep them connected to the company. To do this, create a calendar that includes all the emails you are sending. Color code each item so you can clearly see crossover between your welcome series, triggers, newsletters, and promotional messages.
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  3. Segmentation – Segmenting customers and prospects so you can send them relevant information is the difference between a good email marketing strategy and a great one. Not all customers and prospects are equal. Proper segmentation let you send the right message at the right time. Segments to consider include acquisition source, qualification, subscriber activity, customer value, and customer behavior. Your specific business may have other areas to include.
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  5. Targeting – The top benefit of email marketing is the ability to send personalized one-to-one messages. Proper segmentation makes it easier to target subscribers with messages designed specifically for them. Targeted email messages that work well include renewal information for subscription services, reminder to buy for consumable products, triggers (such as abandoned cart reminders), and events.
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  7. Customer engagement – Email opens communication lines to provide interaction of customers and prospects with your company. Make every effort to encourage people to respond to your emails. Don’t be afraid that people will overwhelm you with replies because even the best programs have manageable responses. Telling recipients exactly what you want them to do and how to do it encourages engagement.
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  9. Continuous improvement – Learning from others is a great way for a small business to improve an email marketing strategy. The retail industry has invested millions testing to see what works best. Use their results to find ways to optimize your program. This will get you started. As your program grows, develop ideas to test, send, evaluate results, and repeat the process. The more you learn, the better your results.

The secrets to email marketing success are fundamental. It’s surprising that every company isn’t using them to grow sales and profitability. Companies that do use them have a competitive edge. If you are not using them to grow your business, today is a good day to start. Every day you wait delays your progress.

DebraEllis

Debra Ellis

President, Wilson & Ellis Consulting

Debra Ellis is a business consultant, author, and speaker. She specializes in showing companies how to improve customer acquisition and retention using integrated marketing and service strategies. Her latest marketing guide, 31 Ways to Supercharge Your Email Marketing, is a practical resource for marketers seeking better results with minimal investment. Her engineering background provides statistical insight to finding actionable data that can be used to grow companies and reduce costs.

She is recognized as an expert in marketing from direct mail to social media, customer behavior, and strategic planning. Her expertise is often tapped by media sources including: The New York Times, CNN/Money.com’s Small Business Makeovers, Target Marketing, Multichannel Merchant, and MarketingProfs.

Her marketing guides include 31 Ways to Supercharge Your Email Marketing, Social Media 4 Direct Marketers, and Marketing to the Customer Lifecycle.

Debra loves the art and science of multichannel marketing. She is a student and teacher of the methods that transform shoppers into buyers and buyers into lifelong customers. In 1995, she founded Wilson & Ellis Consulting, a boutique firm specializing in creating strategies that make channels and departments work together to optimize the customer experience. Since then, she has worked with over a hundred distinguished clients such as Costco, Edmund Scientifics, Jacuzzi, Ross-Simons Jewelry, and The Body Shop.

Prior to founding her firm, Debra was instrumental in the record growth of Ballard Designs, Inc. while serving as Chief Operating Officer. Today, she uses her experience and expertise to show executives how to successfully navigate marketing channels and integrate activities to profitably grow their business. Her practical approach maximizes the return on investment.

She can be reached via email at dellis@wilsonellisconsulting.com. She blogs at http://multichannelmagic.com/blog

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Comments

Hi Debra. Great article! What are your thoughts about segmenting inside of lists to test campaings against each other in the same List? This is another great aspect of ESPs and the analtyics they give you. You have the ability to test different subject lines, coupons and text while targeting the same demographic.

Matt

Hi Matt,


Thank you! I'm a fan of segmenting to the point of maximum return.Testing campaigns against each ohter in the same list allows you to fine tune your marketing so you can better provide the information your subscribers want.


Best,

Debra