We wanted to focus on an often-overlooked small business marketing strategy: email marketing. To get the low down from an industry insider we went to our go-to digital expert, Avery Swartz. Avery is a web designer who is also the founder of Camp Tech, a company that offers training in tech skills. Avery says that email marketing can get a bad rap because it's not perceived to be as fun as newer social media channels. However, email marketing is very effective and shouldn't be ignored. Email marketing is actually growing – a study in the US showed that customer acquisition via email has quadrupled over the last four years.
Email goes directly to your customers, instead of waiting for them to come visit you. It's cost-effective and offers excellent value for any marketing budget, especially a small one. Here are Avery's top five email marketing tips:
- Use an email marketing service to make sure your emails are professional, and your email list is well maintained. MailChimp is great because its drag-and-drop email builder is easy for non-technical people to use, the customer support is excellent, and they offer sophisticated features like segmented lists, drip campaigns (also known as autoresponders), and A/B testing. Plus, for many users, MailChimp is free (depending on the size of your email list).
- Build your list organically, over time. Think quality, not quantity. It's better to have a small list of really engaged customers than a large list of people who don't even open your email.
- Play by the rules. Canada's new Anti-Spam Legislation dictates that everyone on your email list must have opted in to receive your messages. If you don't have permission, you can't email them. And you must have an "unsubscribe" link on your emails.
- Consider mobile users. Sixty-five percent of all email gets opened first on a mobile device, so it's essential that your email marketing campaigns are optimized for mobile users.
- Track it. You can integrate your email campaigns with tracking and reporting programs (like Google Analytics) so you can analyze your campaigns. Learn what's working and what isn't, so you become more effective with each new email.
If you’ve been following our column here on YouInc, you’ll be familiar with our views on spending: As a small business owner it’s so important to stretch your marketing dollars. We're huge fans of spreading the word and converting leads, and email marketing is a great way to do that.