I’m a huge advocate for small businesses. I still firmly believe in Beaver County and its small business community and I know those that adopt digital marketing strategies can outpace their competitors.
But what’s the best channel for delivering your message?
Let’s back up. I was talking to a work buddy the other day and he posed this question:
If you had one and only one way to communicate a message with your audience – given the audience was already baked out — what would you choose?
Social media, direct mail, cold calling, SEO, all of these were on the table.
I used my “go-to” response in this situation: Never ignore a channel of communication and always focus on the most beneficial. It’s a pretty good sentence. You can steal it and tell folks you made it up. It’s cool.
“But, fine,” I said at last, “if I had to choose one and only one channel with what I know about the audience, I’d stick with an email blast.”
With that, my friend looked at me as if I had just burst into flames. It was as if I suggested to my friend we spread the word by stapling fliers to rattlesnakes and tossing them at people while we screamed the product name in a crowded mall.
The look in my friend’s eyes told me that in some course of the polite marketing discussion, I’d gone completely insane.
My friend looked me hard in the eye and asked, “Come on, does anybody really read email anymore? Isn’t email dead?”
Wow. I was indignant. I wanted to defend email marketing immediately, intelligently, and loudly. But, I figured it’s a new year. It’s 2015. So it’s worth asking:
Can small businesses like the ones all around the place I live still win the game with email marketing? Is email marketing still relevant for Beaver County small businesses?
Sure it is, here’s the proof.
Small Business Can Get Simple, Professional Email Marketing for Free
So let’s get this right out of the way, and it’s something I stress all the time when it comes to email marketing.
Email marketing can be totally free. Seriously. You can kick off your email marketing for 2015 without spending one dime. I promise. For small businesses with small budgets, free is a big plus.
And when it comes to email marketing options for small businesses, MailChimp is simply the best choice available, no question.
First of, MailChimp provides a free option for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails a month. There’s no credit card to enter or contract to sign. If you have an email address and the will to accomplish this task, you can email up to 2,000 of your friends six times a month at maximum. Is that enough?
Well, try this. Go to Google and try and get a consensus about how often you should email your audience and you probably won’t find one because it doesn’t exist.
The frequency with which you hit your audience should be determined by your audience’s opinion of how often they want to hear from you. It changes from audience to audience.
So, all that said, six emails a month is plenty of sending to drum up some business. You can do some serious damage with six emails a month.
The service also has tons of free templates and a dead simple, drag-and-drop editor to help you make your email blast, so there’s no designing involved or coding. You can also upload first and last names, numbers, addresses, all the good stuff you need to make sure you personalize your messages like a good email marketer.
Plus the templates produce responsive emails, which is way important considering people are reading emails on mobile devices more than desktops these days. Finally, and this is coming from a place of experience, MailChimp’s deliverability is every bit as good as its highly priced competitors. Paying a bunch of money to some email service provider will get you no closer to your subscriber’s inbox. In some cases, MailChimp’s deliverability is better than pay services.
So it’s free and only cost the time you put into it. It seems to me that if you have a story to tell and want to build a unique audience, email marketing is a no-brainer.
Small Businesses Can Get Personal with Email Marketing
When you head over to Google and do a search on the top trends for 2015, you’ll find one term popping probably get a bunch of insights. Still, one answer remains on every list:
Everybody loves a story and every brand has a story. The companies that have the ability to synthesize their message and pull together great content are going to outpace the competition.
The days of selling on the Internet nearly over. Digital marketing is evolving into a practice of engaging and educating consumers. It’s a trust game, just as it always was. The difference is, now it’s all out in the open and transparency is real.
Telling that story is quickly becoming paramount for businesses across the country.
And this is where email marketing comes in. No other medium allows you to engage your audience directly in a one-on-one conversation like an email.
Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter are communities with personal aspects in terms of follows, friends, and connections, but email is different. Email is a chance for you to tell your story in brief and invite the user to take the next step and continue the conversation.
With an opt-in subscriber, you have an active listener. With a story to tell, you have a chance to start a relationship with your subscriber.
Content marketing can be made personal with emails in ways social media channels simply can’t.
Now, I’m not one to bash a marketing channel. I like Facebook and Twitter, I use both. I’m not even making the case that Facebook or Twitter are worthless in selling products, though some certainly have.
I’m only saying Beaver County Small Businesses have a story to tell and that story can be told personally through email.
Small Businesses: Email Marketing is Better Than Facebook or Twitter for New Customers
Lucky for me, I stumbled upon a website that provided me with tons of content relevant to my conversation. It’s worthwhile fodder for having a conversation as to why email is not dead.
According to emailisnotdead.com, people prefer email for commercial communications. Here’s a few quick facts from the site:
81% of US online shoppers are more likely to make additional purchases, either online or in a store, as a result of emails based on previous shopping behaviors and preferences. – Harris Interactive
- 68% of consumers find email to be their #1 preferred channel for recieving commercial messages – CG Selections “Nationaal Email Onderzoek” (2013)
- 66% of consumers have made a purchase online as a direct result of an email marketing message – Direct Marketing Association (2013)
- One in five (19%) of consumers said they read every email newsletter they receive just to see if something’s on offer. – Forrester Research “North american technographics survey” (2014)
- In 2014 consumers delete less promo emails without looking, down 25,4% relative to 2010. – Forrester Research “North american technographics survey” (2014)
Much of the above research points to fact that email is still a great vehicle for companies to tell consumers about products and services. It’s a way we expect to hear from companies. Even McKinsey & Company, a multinational management consulting company with nearly 100 years experience in driving success in business, says email marketing is far and away better at getting new customers than other forms of social media.
Email is almost 40x better at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter – McKinsey & Company (2014)
So do you ignore other channels? Never. You need to tell your story in all ways possible. But email marketing is – and probably always will be – a viable option. Use it!
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