The UK economy is finally out of recession, but it’s not all easy sailing yet. Consumer confidence has not yet recovered. The Telegraph recently reported that consumer confidence has had its biggest drop in 20 years.
The current economic climate is still affecting small businesses. Many SME’s are facing a catch-22 situation. Pressure is still on small business to make savings. One of the most popular cost cutting methods is to tighten the marketing budget. It can be suggested that cutting marketing spend will only make the situation worse. Cutting marketing spend will often result in decreased marketing actives – in turn, less exposure and lower sales. Lower sales will more than likely result in increased pressure to make further cost savings.
So what is the solution?
Email marketing for small business
Say hello to email marketing. We suggest that email marketing is the perfect fix for small businesses in this situation (did you really expect it not to be email marketing? – we are an email marketing service provider after-all).
While our position could be considered a little biased in favor of email marketing, there are some great logical reasons why this medium is perfect for the small business on a tight marketing spend.
Return on investment
Email marketing can provide a great return on investment. One source claims that for every £1 spent on email marketing an average return of £20 was made. Unfortunately we were unable to verify this claim, but it makes impressive reading.
The email marketing census 2011 reports that 72% of email marketeers report that return on investment is ‘excellent’ or ‘good’. With nearly 3/4 of people surveyed stating that ROI is excellent – this does make a compelling argument in-favor of this medium.
If you are a small business tempted to dip your foot in the email marketing pool, one of your main concerns – the required investment.
Starting to use a new marketing medium that you have not tried before may take some courage on your part. If you are investing £1000’s towards a new marketing medium – this may put you off.
As a small business investing several £1000 may mean the difference between drawing or not drawing a salary this month.
Over the last few years, email marketing has changed. A few years ago, the initial investment to get started with email marketing would be close to or over £1000. Many email marketing service providers charged very large setup costs. As a result, for many new-start small businesses – the high initial investment may be the detouring factor.
Today this is a little different. The majority of email marketing service providers charge little or no setup. Some systems will even offer a no obligation free trial. This is perfect if you are completely new to email marketing and would like to test the medium before committing.
Even if deciding to commit, most provers will not tie you into a lengthly contract or require large expenditure on a monthly basis.
Better reporting mechanisms
This is an area which we have briefly covered inside other articles. Most modern email marketing platforms offer a wide range and a detailed reporting system.
If you are committing your marketing budget to a new medium, you will want to be able to track its effectiveness. If you are small business owner, blindly investing in a marketing medium with no effective way to track results will be discouraging.
We would suggest that email marketing offers one of the most effective reporting systems. If you are broadcasting a monthly company newsletter to your client database you are automatically given access to a wide reporting system.
Most email marketing software providers will provide you with detailed reports on:
> Who opened your email campaign
> What news articles did they click on?
> Did they visit a product page on your website as a result
> Did they unsubscribe, showing no further interest in your company?
> How many of your emails did not arrive?
We would argue that the reporting structure for email marketing is far more detailed than the majority of other marketing avenues. If for example, you print an advert in a national magazine, are you able to instantly track how many people showed an interest in your advert?
For small business email marketing is best coupled with another medium
Email marketing is a great medium to help boost brand awareness and sales. In addition to this, it is suggested that this platform partners with other mediums very well.
Email marketing couples very well with telesales. After broadcasting your campaign – automatically track who opened your newsletter. Following this, ring each recipient asking if they would like any further information.
The DMA report that if a telemarketing call is made after the recipient has opened your email newsletter the likelihood of generating interest is increased by up to 70%. Email marketing in this scenario can offer an effective pre-screening for your leads. Rather than phoning every customer in your database, after sending a campaign you will be able to filter down your leads to recipients who showed interest in your campaign. A possible cost saving measure in this still fragile economic climate.
Will email marketing work for my small business?
We would argue that this is a great medium for most business models. As with all marketing systems, there is no way to state that it will be the magic sales generator for your business (this depends on what you are selling and how you are doing it).
As long as you follow these general guidelines, you will hopefully be on the right track to establishing a successful campaign for your small business:
> A good quality mailing list at the foundation.
Buying an email database as a quick fix to generate leads never works. Your open rates and interest will be lower. Purchased databases often result in spam complaints, your company could even be blacklisted with many ESP’s. Take the time to build a quality double opt-in database yourself. A great way to do this is via a mailing list subscribe feature on your website.
> Plan your campaign message
Your clients do not want to be hit with the sales message 24/7. Your newsletter should contain well written content that will generate interest.
> Keep it regular but not too regular
Email your database on a regular basis – this will help your brand to be remembered. Do not email your database every day, you will quickly turn people away.
> Track your stats
Always monitor your stats. Gain an understanding of what subject areas generate the most interest.