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Is email marketing a good strategy for my business?

Part of the Buzgate / SME Toolkit Learning Series

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Marketing, in any form, is a good strategy for most any business.

Word of Mouth Marketing
Ideally, one of the most effective forms of marketing is word of mouth. This is because someone who had a positive experience with your business is telling someone else in their own words why they should also consider doing business with you. This 1-on-1 relationship tends to be more personal and so more effective in terms of bringing about the desired action, which is to build more customers for your products or services.

Word of mouth marketing is an example of what is called 1-on-1 marketing. Email marketing is also a form of 1-on-1 marketing because although you can launch an email marketing campaign to millions of users at once, each recipient receives your message in their individual email account, which makes it personal.

Messaging
There are different types of email messages that can be constructed and sent to different audiences for different purposes. For example, you can draft a short personal note for promotional reasons, such as the announcement of a new product, service or sale. You can distribute eNewsletters, which are often formatted in a specific way and introduce similar topics that are distributed to a subscriber base on a routine basis. Press releases and other types of story pitches may also be sent by email to the media to generate publicity.

As with any marketing strategy the point is to know who your target audience is:

  • Why they want to hear from you,
  • What they want to hear when, and
  • What you want them to do as a result.

With these specific goals in mind, your marketing message should achieve the following:
1.    Get Attention

  • Strong title; compelling introduction, etc.

2.    Build Urgency

  • Sale ends when; solve problem now, etc.

3.    Motivate Action

  • Call 1-800, visit www., buy now, etc.


Implementation Strategies
Like many aspects to running a successful business, email marketing requires time and skill to properly implement in order to achieve the desired results. Fortunately, there are professional outsourced solutions to email marketing that offer high quality, cost-effective results.

However, it is still highly recommended that the upfront planning phase of the email marketing strategy be performed internally because you know your business better than anyone else.

In this regard, the first steps to implementing a successful email marketing strategy are:

1.    Define your overall marketing strategy

a.    Who are your target customers
b.    How will you reach them
c.    Why will they buy from you

A successful marketing campaign begins with knowing who your target audience is and what they want or need. For help with Market Research Techniques, visit the SMEToolKit. Armed with this knowledge, you will then have a better idea of how to best reach them and what to say, which involves incorporating both online and offline strategies to achieve overall success.

2.    Implement a multi-channel outreach strategy

Not everyone uses email and those that do, often do not read all of their messages. As a result, you will want to communicate with customers across multiple channels in a personalized, relevant and coordinated manner.

3.    Track and measure progress

Success is in the details. You’ve gone to the trouble of setting objectives and implementing strategies. Be sure to track and measure progress accordingly. For example, visit the SMEToolkit to use an Email Marketing Calculator that will help you to analyze your campaign’s return on investment.

4.    Refine over time accordingly

Finally and also important, be sure to refine your campaign strategies over time. Nothing in life is constant, nor in business and so tweaking your strategies over time will also improve campaign results.

With a marketing plan in place and well-defined desired outcomes, you can approach providers of email marketing solutions to determine which one is the best fit for your business. Some of the professional services you may expect to find include:

Campaign Creation
Expect help with creating a customized, targeted and personalized communication campaign from people who have experience in these areas and a track record for delivering results.

Responsive Support   
Secure proactive customer service, responsive support, online training and educational resources

Reporting & Analytics   
Be sure to analyze your email campaigns' performance to ensure that you are achieving the optimal ROI by receiving detailed reporting, benchmarking, and real-time analysis services

Deliverability   
Ensure that your email reaches your recipients with your brand and design intact. The right outsourced solution should offer tools such as ISP whitelisting, delivery auditing, message validation techniques, and anti-spam practices

Email Templates   
Take advantage of customizable templates such as newsletter, promotion, survey and public relations messaging to stay in touch with all of your stakeholders including customers, new prospects and the media

List Management   
Manage your contacts efficiently by using customizable fields to capture, profile and segment your contacts over time. Easily import contact files manually or create auto-imports in real-time
Image Hosting    Create campaigns that are visually appealing and effective by storing, sorting, organizing and efficiently uploading images

Web site Integration   
Integrate your email marketing campaign with your Web site by using features such as forward to a friend, email surveys, RSS feeds, preferences update, opt- in confirmation and unsubscribe to comply with anti-spam practices and facilitate more user  engagement with your business.

Visit the SMEToolKit Web Marketing page for help with developing a Web site strategy.

Don’t worry if some of what I just introduced doesn’t stick or isn’t something that you’re readily familiar with. By working with an experienced outsourced solution provider, you’ll pick up on what you need to know when you need to know it. Also, be sure to visit eMail Marketing for Small Business (ADD link to email Marketing Solutions for Small Business) at the SMEToolKit to learn more.

The bottom line is that email marketing can be an important marketing strategy for you and your business. With the right solution provider, it can also be a cost-effective, professional and reliable technique for sending relevant and timely messages that build trust, strengthen brand recognition, and increase sales.

Run your business. Don’t let it run you.

Focus Points
1. Market Research Techniques
2. Email Marketing Calculator
3. Web Marketing
4. eMail Marketing for Small Business (ADD link to email Marketing   
    Solutions for Small Business)

SME Small Business Learning Series

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