Ever drift from an old friend? Nobody did anything wrong, you’re still friends, you just haven’t heard from each other in a while. Maybe you didn’t see each other for a few days that turned into a few weeks, and then a bit longer.
Ever noticed that sometimes the same thing happens in your business? A once-regular customer just disappears. They had a new car to pay for, or a holiday disrupted their regular routine, and through no fault of your own you just kind of slipped their mind.
Whenever I realise it's been a while since I heard from so-and-so down the street or what’s-his-face from high school, I make a point of calling them. (That’s a lie. Both so-and-so and what’s-his-face will tell you I always text rather than calling. The point is: I get back in touch). And they’re generally pleased to hear from me.
The same is true of your business. It’s the first reason you should add email to your marketing mix.
1 Re-engage Lapsed Customers
I know, I know, it sounds terribly commercial, but let’s face it: your business exists so you can make money. Otherwise, it would be a hobby. You don’t have to be mercenary about it, but spotting when you haven’t heard from a customer for a while, and luring them back in with a juicy offer isn’t exactly rocket science. And through email marketing, it’s really easy. With minimal effort your Point of Sale software can work with email marketing software to identify individuals who have drifted from your warm embrace. The beauty of it is that once you’ve set up a template, you can often leave it to work its magic all on its own.
It works really well. Tell me that you’ve never received an offer in your inbox from a business you haven’t used for a while, and then tell me that you’ve never gone ahead and taken advantage of such an offer. You’re lying. I’m not saying that you avail of every single promotion you receive by email, but you have done it. We all have. And if the email is crafted particularly well, if it addresses me by name and makes me feel special, half the work is done. Intellectually, I know that it’s the company’s POS software that misses me, rather than Brian the branch manager, but emotionally... well actually, emotionally I also know it’s the POS talking, but if I’m getting a half-price coffee I’m back for two plus cakes.
2 Spread the Word
Whatever that word may be. If you’re running a venue, you need to let people know what’s on when. If you have a new product or service, you can only sell it if people know about it. If you’re going to be closed for staff training, your loyal customers would probably prefer to know before they bounce painfully off your locked doors.
Social media is great for this kind of thing, but only to an extent. Sadly the social media companies’ algorithms only present your posts to a tiny fraction of your friends, followers, and connections. While it’s true that creating engaging content and conversing with your audience will help increase the size of that fraction, it’s still highly likely that most of your fans won’t see whatever it is you have to say.
Through the medium of email, every customer who has given you their email address (and permission to use it) has the choice of whether or not to read the information you send them. Over-zealous junk mail filters aside, you no longer have to fall upon the mercy of gate-keeper algorithms, and even some of the free email marketing tools can help you reduce the risk of being mis-identified as SPAM. Although you can never guarantee how many people will open your email, there’s no more effective way to make sure that they at least receive it!
3 Direct More Traffic to your Website
l send a regular newsletter email to my subscribers. It’s nothing fancy, just an update on what’s been happening lately at TidyMedia. In fact, you may even have found your way to this blog via the newsletter. What a coincidence 👀
It’s not as cold as I just made it sound, but as I said above, I (like you) am running a business rather than just enjoying a hobby. Although I don’t really have products to sell, including email as part of a wider integrated digital marketing strategy maximises my opportunity to cross-sell services. A client who engaged me to optimise his facebook page had no idea that I could also modernise his company logo for him as part of a mini brand refresh. A simple click on my website led him to the Associated Bespoke Services page, and he asked me if I knew anybody that could help out. Well it turns out I did, and that guy was me. It’s not a service I’d pushed or explicitly offered, but his curiosity once he’d reached my website served us both well. Admittedly, in this instance, he didn’t land there via a newsletter, but the principle of driving traffic to your website or social spaces is sound.
Not all of your subscribers will follow you on Social Media, and not all of your followers will subscribe to your mailing list. They may never yet have visited (or even been aware of) your website. Signposting your customers and potential clients to where you can be of value to them will never do you harm.
4 Retarget Warm Leads
If you’ve ever looked at your website’s analytics, you’ll know very well that not everybody who visits your website becomes a customer. Of those that do, they often have to return to your website several times before engaging you. We’ve already covered how you can re-engage lapsed customers, and drive new traffic to your website, but did you know you can also retarget people who have viewed your social media pages and/or viewed your website? These are people who have already shown a level of interest in your business and are aware of your brand. Reminding them that you exist, reinforcing your presence, may be just the gentle nudge they need to move them one step closer to becoming a paying customer.
It’s your responsibility to use that data ethically, but once you have their permission to contact them via email, you have a direct marketing route to share your engaging content, interesting articles, and product catalogue with people who have already let you know they're happy to receive such content. Just make sure that you keep within the bounds of what they’ve agreed to receive! There are no winners if you become spammy, they’ll just unsubscribe, and you’ll damage your brand, so don’t abuse this privilege!
5 Email Marketing is Cheap. Like Seriously Cheap
I’ve mentioned a few times now that there’s lots of free software on the market. I use MailChimp, because it was a brand that I was aware of. I figured they must’ve been doing something right for me to have heard of them. But I’m not affiliated to them in any way, there are others available, and small businesses like mine and my target audience’s will probably be able to get by just fine without the premium services offered by the paid options. A quick google search will throw lots of useful results back at you :)
But it’s not just the software that’s cheap. Often, you can repurpose existing content too: your latest blog post, an old podcast, whatever fits. My own newsletter tends to be a brief summary of some of the content I’ve created for other platforms in the time since my previous newsletter. I frame it with a little bit of context, and link to the original post. Voila! It costs me nothing more than an hour or so of my time. Sure, the original content creation took longer (a LOT longer) but I was doing that anyway!
If all of that sounds great and you’re ready to give it a go, get stuck in! You’ve very little to lose! There’s a bit of work involved in setting up the mechanics of list creation, but you’ll be surprised at how quick and easy that is, too. Most of the providers will help you design a sign-up form or landing page, and you’re good to go from there. If they don’t have a direct integration with your POS software, it’s usually very easy to export a report from there, and import it into the mail platform.
If you think it sounds like a great idea, but you’re apprehensive about how to go about it, or think your time would be better spent elsewhere, get in touch so we can chat about how TidyMedia may be able to help you set up and/or maintain an email marketing strategy.
And finally, if you didn’t find your way here from our Newsletter, go ahead and sign up now 😜