The challenges facing small businesses are countless and never-ending so ensuring efficiency and ROI in all activities is key to achieving success. With the amount of effort needed to simply run a small business day to day, it is easy for even the most efficient and diligent owner to get bogged down with the basics of running their organization. This can often leave additional critical tasks such as improving customer engagement by the wayside, as they can draw attention away from core business functions. However, small businesses must remember to constantly interact and engage with their customers – and thanks to the marriage of traditional and innovative business communication technologies, they can do it in a painless and seamless way.
One such marriage that I’ve seen bring tremendous ROI is the combination of email marketing with client engagement platforms. These tools are additional applications that can be seamlessly integrated into a business website, email campaigns, or social marketing software – enabling clients to interact with a business online, from anywhere at any time. Businesses themselves benefit greatly from these tools, as they enable automation of related operational procedures while simultaneously tracking and organizing prospect and client interactions. Some great examples of these tools include online payments, online scheduling, file sharing, electronic forms and signatures, event registration, surveys and more. For instance, with online scheduling software, clients can set their next appointment based on staff availability on their own.
When it comes to email campaigns, the chase for a higher click-rate is a top goal for all businesses. Email marketing experts will tell you (rightfully) that your emails should focus the recipient on one main link to click. Multiple clicks on that link means your email triggers interest by the recipients – and could potentially lead to a new or returning client. Sounds great, but the challenge for many businesses is what the driver to click on the link should be, i.e., what is the best call to action?
With retailers, the solution is usually obvious – click the link to claim your coupon and purchase more products – online or in-store. You can then measure the exact revenues as a result of each email.
But what about services businesses? What if your interaction with the client is more complicated than purchasing a product? What if the customer needs to select from several services options and schedule it? Or if a questionnaire needs to be completed or a payment needs to be made?
Service businesses tend to opt for the “no-click” email and simply refer their clients to reach them by phone. This impacts the business in multiple ways. To start with, phone calls can offer very poor customer service, they limit the ability to engage clients, and for smaller businesses it can be more difficult to answer the phone in a timely manner. Smaller shops also lack the ability to be available after hours, when clients are most likely to have downtime to read their email and reach out. Lastly, small service-based businesses have no way to measure the success of email campaigns – no clicks, no coupons, and no clear idea of the effectiveness of their email marketing efforts.
The client engagement platform I mentioned alleviates these issues.
With this technology, businesses have an immediate call to action for almost any client-facing email they need. And when leveraging an engagement platform’s online scheduling software in conjunction with email marketing tools like Constant Contact, even the smallest of organizations can significantly increasing the effectiveness of their email campaigns. Through the combined offering, businesses today can increase click and response rates by up to 70 percent, and clients can conveniently schedule meetings and appointments directly with one click – eliminating hundreds of hours spent on back and forth emails, phone tag and coordination.
Furthermore, by leveraging a web engagement platform’s online scheduling feature to create a unique link that is tracked by the email marketing software, small businesses can directly calculate the ROI of each email campaign – determining results beyond open-rate and click-through-rates, and measuring which clicks led to additional leads, new customers, service appointments and a direct sale.
While some may believe email marketing is a dying marketing channel – I believe it is one of the most robust and solid ways to keep in touch with your clients. If done right, and with a boost from additional engagement technologies a small business’ email campaigns can gain tremendous traction, maximizing ROI and increasing customer engagement. With improved open rates, one-click scheduling, effective call-to-actions for customers, and the ability to track each email and tie it back to the overall sales and company revenue, this can be a true game changer for any small business’ marketing efforts.
By Ran Oelgiesser, Chief Marketing Officer of vCita.
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