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Why email marketing can help SMEs and how to make the most of it

June 20, 2013

Despite the growth of social media and other digital platforms, email is thriving. Consistently useful, email has underpinned the growth of many businesses, and, for SMEs, there’s no doubt it is the quickest and most effective lead generation tool and has the highest ROI. 

The facts

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) Marketing Council’s 2013 National Client Email Report reveals the following information, taken from a survey of 250 senior marketers.

  • Just over half of respondents reported that open, click and conversion rates improved in 2012. More expected these rates to improve further in 2013. Fewer than 12% reported a decline in opens, clicks and conversions.
  • Overall performance improved, with a 5% increase on conversion rates compared to 2011.
  • Email delivered an average return on investment of £21.48 for every £1 spent.

What’s so exciting about email is that smaller businesses can benefit just as much as larger ones. It can cost very little, when compared with other forms of marketing, and you can see the results immediately – sometimes within minutes.

Let’s look at how it can help you to get more from your existing customers and win new business. 

Using email to reach existing customers

Your strongest list is your list of existing customers. They have bought from you once; they are likely to be happy to buy again. But if you don’t keep in touch, they’ll soon forget you and go elsewhere.

So, what can you send to existing customers to keep them loyal and encourage more sales?

1. Email newsletters

A regular email newsletter is a great way of staying in touch, as long as it provides content of value to your customers. You’re asking people to give up a few minutes of their precious time. Unless you make it worth their while, they won’t. Spend a few hours creating an editorial calendar, and you’ll avoid the writer’s block that often prevents emails going out regularly. And bear in mind that it’s much better to send two articles out on a monthly basis than a twelve-article omnibus edition twice a year.
 

2. Cross-sell emails

It’s always easier to get more from your existing client base than to win new business.  Emails are an effective way to spread the word to customers about your full range of products and services.
A cycle retailer could feature promotions on cycling clothing, timed to fit the seasons. Shorts in the spring, gloves as the weather turns cold. A solicitor could follow up a house purchase with emails about making a will.
As long as you’re sending offers that are relevant and potentially useful, readers won’t treat your emails as spam.

3. Up-selling emails

Say you offer a service that has three different levels. The people who are most likely to buy the top level service are those already receiving one of the other levels.  But they can’t upgrade if they aren’t aware of your premium services.  


4. Invitations to events

If you run events for customers, make sure you tell them! And follow up after the event with a summary of the key points covered.
 

Using email to prospect for new customers

With email, you can reach new people and new markets. But remember always that new people don’t know who you are or why your email has appeared in their inbox. When creating the email, think about what would encourage a stranger to open it, and what would make them care enough to read on once they did. If you’re offering anything complex or high value, give people time to get to know you. Plan a campaign of at least six or seven emails, each with a clear and simple message focusing on a different aspect of what you want to say.

When it comes to getting email addresses, you have three options:
 

1. Building your own list

To create a useful list, you have to identify who you want to reach, and put in the research needed to find names and contact details. A website sign up box can be a good way of getting leads, if you provide a strong incentive that encourages the right people to sign up. If you have the resources, a telemarketing campaign is the fastest way to get the data you’re after.
 

2. Buying lists

Despite the horror stories, bought lists can be very effective. If you have a strong offer, and choose an appropriately targeted list from a reputable company, a bought list can be the quickest way to start making sales.

3. Recontacting old prospects

It can take years to turn a B2B prospect into a customer. Just because someone wasn’t in a position to buy a few years back doesn’t mean they won’t be interested now. You may have to re-introduce yourselves (but do refer back to the fact you have been in touch before), and don’t go straight in with an appointment request. As with new contacts, you’ll be more likely to succeed if you take things slowly.

If you’d like some advice on how to use email marketing in your business, call us on 0161 817 292 or email [email protected]

For more information try:

The DOs and DONTs of buying lists

and our

Rough Guide to Email Newsletters

Posted by Joel Jarman
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