Guest Post by Bob Edelstein
If you’re as old as I am you do…
As a small business owner, you probably did most of your business locally. Your marketing was expensive and limited to space ads in the local newspaper, Yellow Pages, and perhaps some direct mail.
What a difference a few years can make!
Today, with just a few clicks on your computer, you can sell your products and services to nearly anyone. Your prospects can be anywhere in the world.
One of the marketing tools made possible by the internet is email. If you aren’t using email in your marketing mix you are truly missing a huge opportunity because a few well written emails can easily boost your response rates by a factor of 2.
So how can you double the response rates on your current marketing with just a few emails?
Well, we all know the best time to sell to someone is when they have just made a purchase from us. At that time, your customer has just identified themselves as someone who wants your product plus they’ve demonstrated they trust you enough to open their wallets and buy from you. Why wouldn’t you take that opportunity to reinforce the buying decision, up-sell, cross sell, or down-sell?
A few well-crafted and strategically timed emails can do all of this for you. And email doesn’t cost you anything. It’s not going to bust your budget.
Here’s what I mean…
You should be capturing your customer’s email address with each purchase. In fact, you should be getting prospects who visit your website to give you their email address by promising something of value in return. For example, a free report on how your product solves their problem, a free appetizer on the next visit to your restaurant, you get the idea. You are doing this already, right?
Then immediately follow-up each sale or inquiry with an email.
“Hang on, Bob” I hear you say, “I don’t have time to be writing email all day.”
You’re right. You have better things to do. But the exciting think about email marketing is you can automate it using an autoresponder!
You may have heard of this. Email autoresponders allow you to automatically send emails to your customers and potential customers. An autoresponder platform or service can be set up to send automatic emails whenever you desire with whatever you’d like to say.
These emails are written in advance, but can be personalized with the customer’s name and other details, and are preset to mail on a schedule you choose.
For example, how about sending a “thank you” email to every customer or client who makes a purchase from you. Since people tend to make a buying decision based on emotion, use this email to make the sale stick by reminding them of the many benefits and logical reasons for their purchase. Just imagine how that would reduce product returns in your business.
Then maybe follow-up a few days later to see how Ms. Customer is enjoying her purchase, reinforce the benefits of her new program, and offer another product or service that compliments her recent purchase or perhaps a discount on her next visit.
You could even schedule a series of monthly newsletters to stay in front of your customers for a period of a year or more if you wished.
The advantages of using an email autoresponder are many but here are a few others that jump to mind:
Advantages of using an autoresponder email series:
• Build a relationship with your customers and prospects. People tend to do business with those they know, like, and trust. An email series is the perfect tool to do this.
• Build awareness in your prospect of you and your product or service. The majority of customers do not make a purchase the first time they see a product. It often takes 4, 5, or more reminders about the advantages of a product or service. With an autoresponder, you can send this type of information to clients at regular intervals and be in front of the prospect when the time is right.
• Email autoresponder campaigns can work just as well for your lead generation marketing. You can begin marketing campaigns with your email autoresponder with joint venture partners or even rented lists.
• Track your marketing effectiveness. Your autoresponder service can tell you how many of your customers have read your emails and how many have clicked the links back to your website.
• A high-quality autoresponder service will allow you to segment your marketing and advertising campaigns. For example, you can set up one segment for those folks who have purchased a given product and another one those who have expressed an interest but have not yet purchased. You can then send different mails specifically designed for each market segment.
• Optimize your time. Instead of posting emails individually, you can create them beforehand and upload them to your autoresponder to be sent on a predetermined schedule. You can even go on a vacation while your autoresponder continues to send emails to your clients and prospects.
There are many free autoresponder services available. You can start with one of these to keep costs down, but be aware you tend to get what you pay for.
Once you find email marketing is working for you, you’ll want to move your lists to a paid service. For as little as a few dollars a month, a full service autoresponder platform will give you more features, options, and better customer service. For example, the paid services typically have staff dedicated to ensuring a higher delivery rate for your email.
Another useful feature useful found on the paid services are spam checks which review your emails before you send them to alert you to anything which may cause your emails to land in your prospects spam filter never to be seen again.
So, now you have an idea of how email can be an important tool for your marketing and a very effective way to win over prospects and gain new business. But how do you write one?
Crafting a winning email
Of course just sending any old email isn’t going to win new clients or close the sale. It isn’t that easy. But with a few tips, you can write an email message that evokes the action you want.
Here are 7 of my best tips for email copywriting to get you penning emails that get opened… get read… and get the desired response:
• The “From” line.
The very first thing your prospect sees when your email pops into their inbox is who it is from. Email is a social media and it should be from another person – not just a company name.
• Write a great subject line
The subject line needs to immediately catch the reader’s attention and get them to open the email and read on. It might state or imply the benefit of opening the email, ask a question, or evoke curiosity. But it must grab attention and engage the reader.
• Avoid spam filters
You want to ensure your emails get delivered and don’t end up in a spam folder. Avoid too many capitalized words, repeated words, exclamation marks. In short, don’t be over-the-top in an effort to sell something. You’ll end up in a spam folder and it’s likely to turn-off the reader, too.
• Make a clear offer
Make it clear what exactly you are offering the reader. You’ve only got a few seconds before the reader decides if an email is worth reading or trash. If she has to search for what the email is about, you’ve lost her.
• Keep the reader engaged
People read email differently than they read a print document. You’ve got to engage your prospect and keep them reading. There are many people who are skimmers and scanners, so break up the text with bullet points, headlines, and sub-headlines to pull them back into the email.
• Get the right tone
Email tends to be less formal than printed letters. Keep your tone conversational but not overly familiar. Write as though you were speaking directly to your prospect one-on-one. You’d speak differently to a 20-year old college student than you would to a retiree. Do the same with your writing. This is the reason marketing teachers tell you to “know your ideal client”—so you can speak directly to them.
• Make it clear what you want the reader to do
Make it painfully clear what it is you’d like them to do after reading the email – call for more information, make a donation to your charity, or click on a link which takes the reader to your website where the ‘heavy lifting’ of a sale can be made.
Any small business can use email effectively to boost your return on marketing dollars spent. Following these tips can successfully boost the results from your current marketing whether its online, off-line, or even direct mail.
I was reading the other day where 94 % of internet traffic is email and it’s the dominant method of business communication – beating social media, mobile, and phone usage by wide margins.
Shouldn’t you be using email in your marketing mix?
Let me know how you’re using email autoresponders, and if you’re not, why not?
Bob Edelstein is a freelance marketing strategist and writer specializing in helping small businesses use email and autoresponders to get the most for their marketing dollars. You can learn more about Bob at BobEdelsteinCopywriter.com