You probably aren’t expecting someone from Constant Contact to say e-mail is dead. Fair enough. And you are right: e-mail is definitely alive and well. However, you might hear differing opinions on the subject depending on which small business owner you talk to. This is because there are different approaches on how to best use e-mail to reach customers and prospects. In many ways, e-mail is dead for a lot of small businesses–not because of the tool, but because of the business’s approach.
If your e-mail list isn’t growing, your unsubscribe rates are up and your open rates are down, you may want to rethink how to use e-mail more effectively to reach your target audience. So before you throw the baby out with the bathwater and dump e-mail marketing altogether, consider if you’re guilty of any of the following seven behaviors.
Buying lists with hundreds or thousands of “leads.” You call it lead generation; recipients call it spam. While some marketers would argue that you need to start with a massive list and wait for opt-outs or bounce-backs to get to the real leads, the reality is that this approach is detrimental to your reputation. It also puts you at risk of being blocked from prospects who could actually convert to customers.
Capturing contact information from website visitors and not asking permission to e-mail them. If you’ve set up a mechanism to capture the e-mail of a site visitor, don’t assume this is a green light to start sending. While they may have a passing–or even a fervent–interest in your business, without their permission to e-mail them your behavior may be very unwelcome.
Sending mass e-mails more than once a week. There’s something to be said about absence making the heart grow fonder. What you want your e-mail to be is a pleasant yet expected surprise in the inbox, not the prompt for an eye roll and a subsequent delete.
Not segmenting your customers and messages. The next best thing to receiving a handwritten note is a customized e-mail that’s tailored to the reader’s specific interests. For steady customers, you can track this information and segment your list into groups accordingly. From there, you can create more customized content and offers that will drive customers back to your business while fostering closer interactions with them.
Not balancing content with offers. Each message should consist of three parts of valuable content and one part offer. When you take this approach, customers are more likely to remember your tips, pass them along, look forward to your messages and redeem your offers.
Not asking for feedback. Whether customers are in the store or online, be sure to ask for feedback and what other topics they’d like to learn about.
Viewing e-mail marketing as a silo effort. Create a dialogue and add social media sharing buttons that prompt readers to carry on the conversation in Facebook or on Twitter, for example. This two-way street fosters additional interactions, helps you get to know your customers better and invites more participants into your circle.
Before you send your next e-mail, take another look at this list. You’re bound to see better results if you keep these points in mind.
Image by OPEN Forum