Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Zero Cost Email Marketing for Local Business

By: Sophie Wang (Follow me @SophieWangIMC)

What is most expensive is not always most effective. Today we are going to talk about how to use email to market to your local customers with limited or even zero cost. As a local business owner, email marketing has several advantages: cheap, efficient, and easy to control.   

Collect Email Address This is the first step. There are dozens of ways to collect email addresses. The most normal one is to collect email address when people register your website. Another way is to ask customers to fill in a satisfaction survey when they check out. Sometimes you might need some incentive to get their email addresses. Email marketing is about numbers: the more email addresses you get, the more potential you can utilize these emails. Please do not forget to give an opt-in/opt-out option in your email to avoid spam email compliant.  

Routine E-Newsletters: You can send them newsletters routinely. I will not suggest you to send e-newsletters too frequently although it depends on your business. I think every two weeks to one month is a good choice. Newsletter is tangible, easy to monitor and cheap. It is effective to send newsletters to your customers, reminding them to come back to your store.

One thing to remember: Don’t talk like a company. Talk like a person. Use a “personal” voice, just like you are writing to your friends. The content can be either new products in the store, or tips of life. Choose a good email title – Be short and creative.

Don’t forget to test it before rolling them out. Check the spelling and link in your newsletter. Once you develop a template for it, be sure to follow the template every time. Add social buttons such as “Follow us on Facebook” is a good idea. Here you can find many templates which might be useful to you.

Customized Emails The social profiles make you closer to your customers. Once you know a lot more than an email address, you can interact with them. For example, sending them email when it is close to their birthdays to remind to pick up a gift in your store, or book a dinner with family. The topic of the email can also be relevant with the theme campaign in your store. For example, if you have a promotion in your store for Mother’s day, you can definitely send emails to male customers to give them a friendly reminder.

Social Updates You can do more than Emails. Having your customers’ email addresses on hand, you can see their profile with public social media data. A browser plug-in called Rapportive gives you the updates of your customers on their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn page. With them you can build a local customer relationship strategy. For example, you can measure how active your customers are, who they are influenced by, and what they are talking about your business. Not only can you find social profiles of your customers, but you can also interact with them.
The effect of email marketing has been proved by many local small-and-medium business owners. But don’t forget to track it. You can find user-friendly email system, such as Sliverpop to track and monitor the effect for you, or zero-cost way to do it – use Google analytics to track your emails. Harry Johnson, who owns an indoor inflatable recreation center in Glenview, IL said, “I couldn’t monitor the effect when I spent money on magazines. On the contrary, Email brought me surprising traffic. ” Watch these email addresses; it might be the treasure of your business.

Sophie Wang is an MS candidate in the Northwestern Medill IMC marketing program. She worked for various advertising agencies and has fluent digital marketing experience. Sophie will be graduating in December 2012. Annie can be reached on twitter using the handle @SophiewangIMC


1 comment:

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