In the last 20 or so years email has proved itself a flexible and cost effective business tool. For small online business and start-ups, where every single penny counts, it is absolutely indispensable.

Indeed, according to research into digital marketing channels by econsultancy it was ranked the best channel in terms of return on investment and in 2014 companies attributed 23% of their total sales to email marketing.

In addition, automated marketing software companies such as MailChimp, Vertical Response, AWeber and MadMimi, have made email marketing more accessible, enabling small businesses to create and dispatch professional-looking mailings themselves.

Let’s take a look at how you can use email to deliver a diverse range of communications.

1. Promotional Offers

If you aren’t already utilising email to send out your promotional messages then you’re missing a trick. You can quickly segment your audience to target your sales messages. Unlike direct mail it enables you to measure response almost immediately. You can then tweak your promotions there and then to achieve the greatest response.

2. Welcome emails

Use them to start as you mean to go on in terms of building solid customer relationships. Be personable: thank new customers for their business, remind them of the benefits of your product or service and and direct them to useful information on your website such as customer services, product guides and contact details.

3. Highlight your content

Quality content is central to the success of so much of what you do online, so use email to drive traffic to specific pages. For example, if you have a blog, then send an email with an article link every time you publish a new post. Not only are you helping drive traffic to your website, you are reinforcing customer relationships by offering them free, added-value information.

4. Customer loyalty emails

Existing customers are the most profitable so it is important you are in regular contact. Email is a great vehicle to remind customers that you appreciate their custom. For example, you could send out special ’first look’ previews of new collections or forthcoming products launches. Offering occasional loyalty rewards such as free postage, discount codes or gift vouchers can also work really well.

5. Customer greetings

Email shouldn’t just be about business communications. Timely seasonal greetings show your customers that you are thinking about them. For example, a happy holidays email shows you care and will stand out against the hundreds of sales emails that get sent during the holiday season. Maybe include a gift.

6. Abandoned shopping carts

Shopping cart abandonment is one of the biggest challenges facing etailers today. Sending out a timely email reminder to customers who have left a cart mid purchase can have a really positive impact. According to more econsultancy research 46% of all shopping cart abandonment emails are actually opened and 35% of those click through and lead to a purchase.

7. Stop press

If you have an interesting announcement such as improved service, a product launch or exciting company news then don’t just hide it away on your website, use email to announce it. This could be through PR and/or customer emailing.

8. It’s not just about sales promotions

You need to balance your email communications with information that customers find useful. A newsletter is a useful way to do this and should include links to your latest blog post, company news, helpful product guides, special offers and contact details. Make your newsletter visually appealing and present the information in an easily digestible format.

9. Data management and list building

Your database is a one of your most valuable assets and you need to both grow and prune it. A simple way to start building your database is to have an email newsletter sign-up on your website.

Keeping your data clean and up-to-date is equally important (you don’t want to be paying for the storage of old, unresponsive contacts). Add a clear ‘UNSUBSCRIBE” button on all your emails.

10. Supporting social sharing

All your marketing tools should be supporting one another. You can use email to encourage interaction by always including, and making visible, your social sharing buttons on all your online communications.

 

By Simon Horton, founder of ShopIntegrator


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