Small Business Saturday: Email Marketing Strategies to Beat the Big Brands
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Marketing Strategies has historically set large brands apart from small businesses. High cost, both in creative talent and actual activation costs, gave a huge advantage to companies with deep pockets, keeping small businesses small and growing corporations to huge world powers. And while there’s no denying that these costs still exist, the rise of the social internet has given more access to huge audiences ready and willing to listen to your marketing message.
So what are these marketing strategies that can help your small business beat the big brands? Many of these strategies don’t have a monetary cost but understand this: Nothing is free. While many marketing strategies are now readily available for small businesses, their cost is less about dollars and more about “keyboard equity”.
There are no magic bullets and executing your marketing strategies will take time and commitment, but those are the two things most small businesses have in spades. Utilize and prioritize your limited resources. Whether you have a small advertising budget, two summer interns who only have 3 months to drive value, or you just have your nights and weekends after your full-time job, ruthlessly plan and prioritize every aspect of your marketing strategy.
Today we will focus on building your email list, creating personalized content for every segment, designing killer emails, and supercharging your customer journey. Here’s part one of our three-part series on Marketing Strategies to Beat the Big Brands.
Build Your Email List. Now!
Why? Social Marketing gets all the glory, but email is still king. Building your email list is the best way to improve your reach without spending a dime. An email list is a captive audience that has asked for your product, services, and expertise. The ROI for your time and money is outstanding, as the only cost is the email provider. And for small lists (under 2K subscribers), the email provider can even be free.
How? Prioritize it! Start adding mailing list forms to your site. Have your employees ask to join at the register. Add a way to join on your social pages. Invite customers to join when they make a purchase. Ask them to sign up at the end of every blog post. Make sure everyone in your small business understands that email is a priority.
Pro Tip: Tie your giveaways, free content, discounts, etc. to your newsletter. Make sure customers understand why they should join, set the expectation of what they will receive, and deliver value every single email you send.
Resources to Build Your Email List
Our Choice: MailChimp: Email Marketing Platform – up to 2K subscribers & 12K emails on their free tier
Send Your List Engaging, Interest Content Consistently. Don’t Just Sell!
Why? Sending emails is not enough! And sending bad, spam emails will do your business more harm than good. As the wise Uncle Ben told us, “With great power comes great responsibility” and a customer or potential client giving you access to them 24-7 is great power!
How? Write emails that solve your customers’ needs and add value. Spamming them with weekly or even worse daily emails with heavy-handed sales tactics is the quickest way to end up in the spam folder.
Pro Tip: Understand where your customer is in their journey with your brand. Send new customers guides, frequently asked questions, onboarding help. Send prospects case studies and customer success stories and ask questions. Send your VIP’s exclusive content, offers, and giveaways. If you are sending the same email to your entire list, you are not tapping the full potential.
Resources for Building Engaging Email Campaigns
Develop Your Customer Journies for Prospects, Current & Past Customers
Why? Picture this: You’re at a theoretical tradeshow and a man walks to your booth. You ask him a question that determines how much he knows about your company: Is he a prospect who has no background? A happy customer? An unhappy customer? A brand loyalist? A VIP?
In each of those cases, your messaging will be different. You’re not going to give a brand new prospect a deep dive into a brand new feature, rather you’re going to give them the 10,000-foot view of the company and your product and services. And you are going to have a different conversation with an unhappy customer than a brand loyalist.
So why would you send the same message to everyone? Sure, it’s easier that way, but the easy way isn’t the best way. One-to-one personalized messaging would be the goal, but at least understanding segments of your clients and sending targeted messages is a great start.
How? Know your customer. And group them into segments. Build your marketing strategy with this in mind. Technology can help segment based on behavior and activity, but there are ways you can do this without a service.
Tie your marketing database to your purchase data to segment your mailing lists on clients and prospects. Develop a rewards or VIP program to ensure you know your best clients and target the messaging. Ask a simple question when getting the email address to help put them in the right segment. Create multiple lists that customers can opt-in to which gives you insight into what they want. And understand where a user signs up and how that might help you understand what they want.
Pro Tip: Utilize giveaways and promotions to gather data that can help you market better. If you’re giving away a free gift package around Christmas, ask 1-2 questions on the registration form that helps you segment for your business. Something as simple as “How often do you shop at our store?” to “Which products are your interested in?”
Resources for developing Customer Journies
Design Killer Emails
Why? So you’ve got a big list and amazing content! Awesome. But without a well-designed email template, you’ll never stand out in the crowd. A beautiful, functional design helps tell the story and ensures that the message is not lost.
How? Find a great designer. Or utilize one of the amazing services that offers nice templates at affordable rates. Design is the one thing that you do NOT want to DIY!
Pro Tip: Some ESP (email service providers) offer nice templates as part of their package. These can be good, as they can be personalized out of the box. You can also find very nice templates for less than $20 at ThemeForest. These are a great place to start. But if you truly want the best, hiring a designer is the way to go, but make sure they send you the HTML for the email and not just a PDF.
Resources for Designing Killer Emails
- Killer Email Templates for Sale at ThemeForest
So what are you waiting for? Start building or optimizing your email campaigns today. Have more to add? Tell us in the comments!