On the occasion of the Taste of Technology Small Business Series (20 October 2008) on Email Marketing Smallbiztechnology.com has prepared this short guide on email marketing.

Read Jennifer Shaheen’s wrap up

Email marketing is a powerful, low cost and easy way to a) keep in touch with current customers b) reach out to potential customers.

For current customers a good email newsletter, keeps your brand (products, services, name) in front of them on a regular basis. When they go to buy from your competition, or when they forget to buy, your newsletter gives you the opportunity to capture a sale.

A newsletter to current customers can also be informational and be used to a) build loyalty so customers keep you in mind as the expert or ‘the business of record” for their needs b) can help build demand for your products and services.

For example, if you have a pet grooming business, a good newsletter can help keep your customers coming back to you, again and again when they have the need of your services. Maybe customers don’t know they need to have their pets professionally groomed, a good newsletter can help educate them on this need – providing you more sales.

For potential customers an email newsletter is a powerful tool for those who might not be ready to buy “immediately” but your newsletter keeps you in their mind and when they are ready to by they are “pre-sold”. Maybe you are not ready to take a vacation today, but by getting the ski newsletter from Vermont, when you are ready for a vacation – you’ll definitely check out a ski trip in Vermont.

To have a great newsletter keep these simple things in mind:

Frequency – don’t have it too much (people will un-subscribe) and don’t have it to infrequent (no one will care)
Design – make sure the overall design looks good. If you have to have a professional designer make your newsletter look great – it’s worth the investment
Content – the content (what’s inside) of your e-newsletter is critical and should be carefully considered.

For those of you who are emailing your customers through the “bcc” or “cc” field of your email program (like Outlook), this is ok when you are emailing 1 or 2 people. But it’s best to use the services of an email marketing company for number of reasons:

  • They work hard to ensure your email gets through the spam and “black list” filters
  • They help you manage who signs up to and un-subscribes to your newsletter
  • They give you statistics of who opened your newsletter and/or click on various links in the newsletter

Check out these white papers from Constant Contact for more information.

Email marketing service providers:

Constant Contact (used by Smallbiztechnology.com)
Cooler Mail
Vertical Response
Microsoft Office Live

Jennifer Shaheen, eMarketing and Technology Therapist provides a wrap up of the Taste of Technology Event

On Monday October 20th, I had the great opportunity to be the moderator for SmallBizTechnology.com’s most recent Taste of Technology event on Email Marketing. The evening was filled with great questions that uncovered audience members true concerns about what email marketing is really all about in today’s business world. The panel consisted of Ilise Benun of Marketing Mentor and Wendi Caplan-Carroll of Constant Contact.

When preparing for the event I put together a list of questions I wanted the panelists to answer and I added my own point of view. The questions included:

• Is email marketing something for every type of business?
• Is email marketing still a successful marketing strategy?
• Can you explain the difference between using email to market as a strategy for individual use vs. marketing to a list?
• Is there etiquette to email marketing?
• What is spam?

Email marketing when implemented properly is a strategy that can turn browsers into buyers and potential clients into actual clients.

As moderator, I raised the issues I hear most from people I know who are skeptical, such as:

• I’m already overwhelmed with email: how do I know if this is really something that will work for my business?
• Do I really need to use an email marketing service?
• Is there a difference between Junk & Spam?

Audience members asked questions regarding email etiquette and their frustration with friends and family who send emails with everyone’s address in the TO or CC field.

The recap and energy in the room was that email marketing is a strategy most often over-looked but is something that more people should be considering for their 2009 marketing plan.