For many small businesses, nothing beats email marketing for effectiveness, convenience and affordability. According to Salesforce.com, more than 90 percent of consumers use email on a daily basis. Although email is on the downswing as a personal communications method, it’s still the number-one digital way to stay in touch with friends and family, topping texting and social media.
And for receiving marketing messages, email puts other methods to shame. In fact, more than three-quarters of consumers prefer email for permission-based marketing communication, and that number has risen by 5 percent since 2008.
To make the most of your email marketing communications, it’s critical to take steps to truly engage your customers. Here’s how.
Set clear expectations
Most consumers these days are quite protective of their email addresses, and the last thing they want is more spam clogging their inboxes. Before you ever get to the point of sending email marketing messages, you must provide prospective subscribers with good reasons for opting in — such as the promise of timely, valuable content — and create clear expectations about what you’ll be sending and with what frequency.
Welcome new subscribers
This is a great way to get off on the right foot and set a positive tone for future communications. Express appreciation that new subscribers or customers have selected your company, and include helpful information like key contacts and links to informative resources.
Let subscribers know you’ll be contacting them periodically, and provide an easy way to opt out if they’ve signed up in error or change their minds. This is easily accomplished with a good email marketing automation software package.
Segment your audience
One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to email marketing. As Mashable notes, indiscriminately bombarding your subscribers with irrelevant content is a big no-no — and a good way to end up with a pile of “unsubscribes.”
Your clients may span various industries, interests and other unique identifiers. Break subscribers into groups that make sense, and target email content accordingly. It’s fine to send a monthly newsletter to all subscribers, but you’ll need to personalize at least some of your communications for your various segments.
Make it about them, not you
Many small business owners are excited about their companies, and rightfully so. But filling email marketing communications with tales of your greatness won’t work. Customers care about your company or its products only to the extent that it benefits them. To engage your customers with email, you need two common threads: how your product or service benefits customers, and why they choose you instead of the competition.
Email messages that reference pop culture and current events often strike the right note in customer engagement, Mashable notes. Staying on top of what’s trending can be a lot of work, but it can pay off with engaging email messages that customers share with others. If you know key events are coming up — for example, the Super Bowl — create different versions of your email for the different possible outcomes.
Make subscribers feel like insiders
Everyone likes to feel like VIPs. Create this feeling by sharing “secret” information that your subscribers get to see first. Sharing exciting news or asking subscribers for their input makes them feel included in your company. It also sends the message that you care about their opinions and that you’re providing them with premium access that not everyone receives.
Don’t just email — engage
Whether you’re a pro at email marketing or you’re just getting your feet wet, engaging customers is key. Creating emails that include consistent, well-crafted, valuable information will strengthen your relationships with customers, retain their business and even persuade some to sing your praises publicly.