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Small Business Digest



Email Marketing Programs Bring Profits, Headaches

E-Mail is an effective and inexpensive communication channel that can provide a great return on investment for small businesses. Using e-mail, a business can reduce its marketing costs while increasing customer satisfaction and retention. But getting into the e-mail game can seem to be a daunting task for small businesses.

John Murphy, president of ReachMail, an e-mail marketing service provider, describes some of the most common barriers that keep small businesses from launching an e-mail marketing program:

Not being sure which software or service to use. If the company has 25 or fewer e-mail addresses on their list, sending through a usual e-mail program (e.g. Gmail, Microsoft Outlook) is probably sufficient. As this number climbs higher, it’s best to switch to an e-mail provider to save time, provide analytics, deal with invalid email addresses, and manage the list as people opt in and opt out.

Assuming it’s too complicated to handle on the company’s own. Using a Web-based e-mail marketing program actually saves time. The e-mail provider stores the e-mail list, designs e-mail templates and makes sure the e-mails are delivered.

Being unsure how to gather e-mail addresses. Because of the personal interaction with customers, small businesses are in a great position to collect e-mail addresses from customers.  They can:

  • Collect business cards in a fishbowl and manually enter the contact information or use a smartphone app such as WorldCard Mobile to scan the e-mail addresses into an easy-to-transfer list.
  • Encourage customers to register on sign-up sheets.
  • Use order confirmation e-mails to automatically build a marketing list.
  • Have an e-mail provider work with the Web-site provider to embed a sign-up form on the  site.

Not knowing what content to send.  Murphy says that his “recommendation is to start with quarterly campaigns to keep in touch with customers. From there, small businesses can distribute more messages as they see fit.”

He suggests for four easy campaigns to do annually:

  • Annual survey – Use an e-mail campaign as an opportunity to gauge customer feedback about products, customer service or some other job performance metrics. This is a chance to find out what customers expect from the company.
  • Latest sales flier or product list – While companies don’t want to send a PDF file in the e-mail, they can embed a link that allows recipients to download and view it.
  • Educational e-mail – Tell customers how to get the most out of the products/services that the company can provide. Round out the e-mail with links to helpful articles.
  • Holiday eCard – Include something of value with best wishes for the holiday season. The message needs to be subtle but clear.

Murphy also offers the following things to avoid when small businesses are launching an e-mail program:

  • Sending too often – Monitor e-mail performance. Look at how many people are opening the messages and how many are opting out. Ask the e-mail provider how the results compare to those of other clients and ask for suggestions for improvement.
  • Using dull or misleading subject lines – Get the recipients’ attention, but don’t trick them. If they feel deceived, they won’t open future messages or they will file them as spam.
  • Buying or renting e-mail addresses from another company – Doing so could hurt the deliverability or cause e-mails to be filed as spam.

© 2018, Information Strategies, Inc.
P.O. Box 315, Ridgefield, NJ 07657