As we move into the heart of summer, many of us will be taking much-needed (and well-earned!) vacations. However, for small to midsize business (SMB) owners and executives, fun summer trips can be fraught with worry over how things will play out at the office while they’re away. But one issue most SMBs don’t have to worry about – no matter where their travels may take them -- is the value delivered by their email campaigns.
I’ve written previously about my top guidance for SMB email marketers. But, as the summer gives us a rare opportunity to take stock in things, the importance of email in driving traffic to an SMB website is worth remembering. Email represents a top channel for bringing in new prospects and increasing sales – a truth validated by a recent report by Salesforce.com, which states that 73% of marketers agree that email is core to their business, and 60% claim that the channel is a critical enabler of products and services.
With that in mind, here are four reasons email marketing makes sense, now more than ever, for SMBs:
- Email is data driven and measurable: SMB marketing budgets are almost always tight and carefully watched. With email, statistics such as deliveries, opens, clicks, bounces, and unsubscribes are tracked and monitored, so small businesses know exactly how their campaigns are performing. As such, they can make adjustments as needed, improving their email marketing effectiveness in the process. The Salesforce study says the top three metrics used to track email marketing effectiveness are click-through rates (47% of respondents), conversion rates (43%) and click-to-open rates (38%).
- Email enables specific customer targeting: With email marketing, customer targeting can be increased through lead scoring, a classification methodology for ranking prospects against certain criteria. After all, not all prospects are created equal and they shouldn’t be treated all the same. For example, many are situated in the “interest” phase. For these subscribers, marketers shouldn’t bombard them with sales pitches at a time when they may be merely looking for information to help them along their buying journey. In addition, list segmentation can be used for split tests to understand how certain groups of prospects respond to particular campaigns.
- Email is great for establishing and building relationships: Creating trust and loyalty in your brand takes time. Email marketing allows small businesses to build relationships with prospects, leads and current (and even past) customers by speaking directly to them about their brand. With email, there is no need to worry about invading their personal space because they can check their in-boxes at times most convenient for them. (And 91% of consumers check their email once per day.) With email, an SMB can introduce new products or services, send newsletters, information about events in their area, special offers and more. Email also does a better job here than social media – a McKinsey study claims that email surpasses social media conversion rates by 40x.
As a side note, as campaigns are implemented, it’s important to pay attention to opt outs. According to a leading market research and consulting firm, the top reason people opt out of email marketing is that they receive too many emails. As a best practice, marketers should regularly perform A/B testing to determine the right email frequency for their subscribers.
- Email is cost-effective: When small businesses start their email marketing outreach programs, of course there will be some upfront costs, including email marketing software, copywriting and design services, image purchases and reputable email list providers. However, once the foundation is set up, the maintenance costs are minimal versus the ROI, which is staggering. Studies show that email’s ROI is estimated to be between $40 and $45 dollars for every $1 dollar of investment.
There’s no doubt that email continues to serve as an integral part of any SMB’s effort to get more customers and increase revenue. Its value seems indisputable these days -- and offers one less thing to worry about over summer vacation
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