Email marketing for SMEs – does it work?

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Owners of small and medium enterprises (SME) often think marketing through enewsletters and other email-based methods does not benefit their business. But email marketing can be an effective form of online marketing for SMEs, if done properly.

Email is one of the most useful methods of getting in touch with your customers, much more than a physical address. Every customer who buys from you has an email address and even if they move physical address that email address is probably going to stay with them for years.

It is a cost-effective solution when compared with the higher costs of advertising on other digital channels. All it needs is to be relevant, timely and useful to the recipient. An exciting offer will more likely cut through the spam in a recipient inbox and help generate sales.

A recent survey says 92 percent of respondents reported that email marketing produces a positive return on investment (ROI) for them. For the low costs and less effort required email marketing is a channel that delivers excellent ROI.

Often, it is the best way to engage your customer. SMEs can reach their target market directly and on a regular basis within a very low budget.

Research by McKinsey & Company found that email was a staggering 40 times better at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter. This could be because people tend to prefer email for commercial communications – 72 percent of consumers said the email was their favourite form of communications with companies they do business with.

Running an email campaign is a kind of marketing initiative that many SMEs have tried at some point of time. The trouble is that many businesses get it wrong. Email marketing campaigns can produce great results, but only when planned properly. Blasting out emails to a random list of addresses simply isn’t going to be effective. Let’s look at how businesses can make email marketing work for them.

Building a database: Spend some time on building your email list from your website visitors. This can be through offering special deals on your website which email subscribers are eligible to win, by email signups, offering email signups with membership schemes, or partner with complimentary businesses and promote each other’s newsletters.

Keep your data up to date, as it is estimated that your list degrades by as much as 22.5 percent every year. For example, remove any subscribers who haven’t opened your emails in the last six months. Once this is in place all you need to do is send out the right message. Customers who have opted-in to your mailing list are both interested in your offering and willing to receive your communications.

Developing a strong strategy: Give a careful thought on what is the voice of your business: serious, quirky, or light-hearted? Understand your target audience and segment your mailing list for sending relevant information. Focus on the benefit to the customer, make a clear Call to Action (CTA) and, where possible, personalise your communication. Research has shown that adding personalised recommendations can increase conversions by as much as 25 percent.

Creating a perfect marketing email that is effectively worded and well designed, can be difficult for small businesses that don’t have much experience writing promotional marketing materials. They can use marketing firms to craft and send the emails on their behalf to ensure emails are formatted correctly and compatible with user’s email applications.

Building trust with customers: Do not spam customers by too many emails. The main idea is to engage people and not annoy them. Make sure that customers can easily unsubscribe.

Measuring and tracking: All good email marketing service providers can measure and track emails effectively and show you the analytics. This helps you understand how customers are engaging with your emails. Key metrics will be: The number of emails sent, delivered, bounced, opened, percentage opened, clicks, click through rates, unsubscribes and percentage of unsubscribes. This will help you find the best performing segments, the best phrases, and the best times and help you determine the effectiveness of special offers. Keep refining your email marketing and watch the results improve.

A well-thought out email campaign can get your business in front of the right people and help deliver more sales. Email marketing is cost effective and helps drive customer retention and loyalty to your business.

If you think your email marketing can be improved, block a time in your diary for this coming week where you will have a dedicated time to take your first step of action.

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Pooja Gupta

Pooja Gupta is digital marketing manager at Duoplus. pooja@duoplus.nz | www.duoplus.nz

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