Email marketing tends to be one of the biggest opportunities ignored by small to medium businesses. Meanwhile, they are potentially missing out on a substantial amount of sales.

So, why is it down-played so much?

It seems that smaller, professional businesses tend to think it’s for the big retailers only, or that a lot of the emails they receive are just annoying junk.

It’s true. A lot of emails are annoying junk. But only because they are badly produced.

Email marketing can work for any business. Planned and implemented properly, it can bring great results.

Facts about email marketing

Research conducted by marketing firms has discovered some outstanding results that you may not be aware of. Take these findings, for example:

  • For every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI. – DMA
  • 55% of companies generate more than 10 percent of their sales from email – Econsultancy “Email marketing census
  • Email is almost 40x better at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter – McKinsey & Company
  • Email is the channel generating the highest ROI for marketers – Venturebeat
    Diagram: courtesy Campaign Monitor, ‘The New Rules Of Email Marketing

    email ROI

Why email works

You’re communicating to a warm crowd

People are on your list because they have dealt with you already, or have been interested enough in your business to entrust you with their email address.

They are a qualified audience who could very well want to buy from you in the future, if not now.

Emailing keeps your business top of mind

Sending a regular update once a week or even just once a month, help you to maintain a solid connection with your list. You are strengthening your relationship with them over time, as you share your knowledge and build your credibility.

Then, when the time comes they need your help… who are they gonna call?

You have a captive audience

Your website and social networks accounts rely on your audience to be web browsing or checking up on their social network communities.

In other words, you are waiting for them to come to you.

This is not the case with email marketing. You can arrive in their inbox when you choose, and share something of importance directly with them.

Making your emails more effective

When you follow a few straightforward guidelines, email marketing can become a valuable source of income.

It’s not about the “Sell, Sell, Sell”

Email gives you the chance to politely display what skills you have to offer over time. If you continually bombard your list with ‘buy now’ and ‘closes today’ statements, you appear like a pushy salesperson and you will find people quickly unsubscribing.

Sure, mix a little bit of promotion in now and then. But the most popular buttons in emails tend to simply offer the readers ‘More information’.

Send at the best times

Generally, sending emails at around 10am on a Tuesday or Thursday gets the best response for professional services. And Wednesday being almost as effective.

Mondays, your emails get lost in Inboxes crowded with a weekend influx of email. While Fridays tend to drop-off when a person’s week needs to be wrapped up and the weekend is approaching.

But, in some cases, your target audience may be one that doesn’t have access to a computer all day, and rarely stops to check emails in the 9 to 5 time bracket. Then, 8am or 6pm may be the better times for you to send.

It’s a good idea to experiment with different send times to see when you get the biggest responses.

Get personal

There are a couple of ways you can reach out on a more personal level, which can draw more attention to your message:

1. Merge Tags – Address them by name

Merge tags mean you can use personal information that you have collected from your contacts, to display uniquely to each recipient. Most of the time, this will simply be a First Name. You can start an email with “Hello, Rhonda”. Or have a Subject like “Alan, here’s some new information on GST”.

You may even refer to your reader throughout the message, including the call to action at the end.

2. Segmentation – target a more specific group within your list

Segments within your lists can include things like:

  • Location
  • Age range
  • Gender
  • Specific campaign entries
  • Interests and hobbies

As an example, lets look at how Location may be used.

If you are offering deals to Brisbane residents, Brisbane recipients will appreciate that you’ve acknowledged they are in the Brisbane area. Not to mention, they would be extra interested in the deal that is clearly aimed at them.

Meanwhile, your contacts in Perth shouldn’t really see this same email about Brisbane. If people are constantly seeing emails that aren’t relevant to them, they can decide you’re sending mostly rubbish and may feel prompted to unsubscribe.

Segmentation allows you to send highly targeted emails to the relevant audience for greater response, Meanwhile sparing other members on your list from being interrupted with useless announcements.

Use intriguing Subject lines

Many people put a great amount of effort into the email itself, but tend to add the Subject line as an afterthought.

Use a weak Subject line, and people won’t open your email.

Take the time to create a Subject line that triggers curiosity and appeals to your audience, and your open rate will grow.

Readability and mobile compatibility

Emails need to be clear and to the point if readers are to follow it through on a screen. Especially the smaller smartphone screens.

Grow a qualified mailing list

Apart from including your past and present clients who are happy to receive updates from you, you can use all your online channels to reach more prospects to sign up to your list.

Have a look at “Effective Ways To Build Your Email List – Starting Now” for some proven list building ideas.

People have gone out of their way to be on your list. They chose you! This means they will respond well to your emails as a whole.

I highly recommend NOT buying lists. Keep your money. The success rate is minimal, and you could be marked as a spammer.

Yes, you WILL get results

All major email service providers include reporting systems so you can see which emails have worked well, and which ones haven’t. You can then adjust your strategy accordingly.

Indirectly, you should notice a rise in calls and emails from people who are ready to consider doing business with you.

Allocating adequate time and resources towards your email marketing, doing a worthwhile job of it and making educated improvements along the way will surely contribute to your business growth.

Are you getting the most out of email marketing? Add a comment below, or send me a note if you have any questions.

Carolyn Wilson

Carolyn is the founder of Think Internet, and has been helping professional companies get more business through the internet since 1997, optimising conversion rates through usability and online marketing.
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