Email marketing is a touchy subject these days as many often get it confused with spam. When used correctly, email marketing is a great tool for small businesses to keep in contact with their customers. When used properly, you can keep your customers engaged with your small business and you can make sure your in the forefront of their mind. Email marketing is simple and easy to do and does not require a large investment of money or time on your part. I will explain the benefits of email marketing as well as try to lead you in the right direction for starting up your own campaign. I will also explain to you some of the legalities that you will need to take into considering before doing your first email campaign.
When To Use It
You have to be careful with email marketing and with what you are sending out. You do not want your customers to start thinking of your company as spam. We all know those companies and I am sure most of you do not even open their email but rather just delete the right away. You do not want your company to become one of those emails.
Special Sales and Promotions
Email marketing is the perfect way to let your customers know about your special sale or promotion that you are having. This is one of the most common reasons that both small and large businesses use email marketing. Be sure to make the focus of your email to be on the actual sale or promotion and try to include it in your subject line. Be sure when you send these out that you let your customers know the dates that the sale is valid through. You also want to make sure that this email is sent out within a week of the sale starting. If you send it out too early, you run the risk of your customers deleting the email and forgetting about the sale.
New Products or Services
Send out a campaign when you introduce a new product or service. Be sure in your email campaign to make this new product or service your main item and then compliment it with products or services that you currently offer that would go along with this new product or service. This is a good time to show that your keeping your small business fresh and up to date and yet at the same time gives you an avenue to push your older products and services.
Major Announcements and Awards
This is when you can use your email marketing lists to boast about your small business. Did your small business just receive a recent award? Did a newspaper write a positive article about you? Did you small business help a charity? This is where you can really boast about your small business and let your customers know about it. Other information should send out are things such as new locations, change of business hours, unexpected closures, etc.
VIP List or Premier Customers
Use your email marketing lists to make your customers feel special. You can call this list whatever your want, however it makes your customers feel like they are part of your elite customers. Be sure to send them updates of the business and also send them “rewards” for being such a great customer. These rewards can be anything from a coupon, free item at your business, special discounted rates, etc. By keeping a list for these customers, you can bank on when they need a product or service that you offer, that you will be the first company that comes to their mind.
How to Build Your List
This is where you need to be very careful. Be sure you only put customers on your email list that want to be on it. If you place someone on your list without their permission, it could put a negative reflection back on your small business.
Building your list with opt-in customers is easier than you think. You can use a email marketing service that allows for you to create a sign form right on your website. This will allow customers to come to your website, enter their email address, select their lists and be a part of your email marketing campaign. Another option is to create a sign up list at your place of business or ask your customers at time of checkout if they would like to be on your email marketing list. You can the manually input these addresses into the service that you choose.
In order to encourage customers to join your email marketing list, you may want to try and offer them an incentive for joining your lists. One such way is by offering them special coupons or even a raffle for joining your email marketing list. Be sure to let your customers know exactly what types of emails they will be getting from you and also be sure to let them know that you will never give or sell their email address to any one else. This will make them feel better about giving you their email address.
Before you start sending out your emails, you need to know about the CAN-SPAM act of 2003. CAN-SPAM is an acronym for the full name which is Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act. This was a bill passed in December of 2003 that provides rules and punishment for marketing emails. This act gives you rules you must follow in order to avoid fines of up to 16,000 dollars. The FTC is in charge of enforcing this and they have a website that explains everything in detail. Click here to view that page. I would suggest you read that page prior to sending out any emails. I have listed a summary from Wikipedia of some of the bigger parts of the bill below:
- A visible and operable unsubscribe mechanism is present in all emails.
- Consumer opt-out requests are honored within 10 days.
- Opt-out lists also known as Suppression lists are only used for compliance purposes.
- Accurate from lines (including “friendly froms”)
- Relevant subject lines (relative to offer in body content and not deceptive)
- A legitimate physical address of the publisher and/or advertiser is present.
- A label is present if the content is adult.
Because of all these rules, it is best that you use an email marketing service to send your emails through. These companies often make sure that your email is within the guidelines of the CAN-SPAM Act and that you are in compliance. I focus on one service known as MadMimi in our Business Spotlight.