In a recent post, I indicated how essential email marketing and list building are to your success online. I was challenged by a reader that email marketing and list building are only hot trends right now, because email clients simply haven’t become sophisticated enough to filter everything out. I found that interesting. Seriously?
It seems to me that if one person feels this way strongly enough to send me a message about it, surely others do as well. I do not feel email marketing is a fad. I want to examine this for a minute and see if I can shed some light. Maybe further clarify my point.
Many Small Business Owners Do Not Use Email Marketing
This is clearly a fact. I work primarily with small business owners whose main business is NOT online. You know, store owners, Realtors, attorneys, etc. Many of these professionals and business owners may have a website, but in many cases they do not proactively build an email list, and even when they have a list it is often outdated and underutilized.
One client I work with originally had over 10,000 email addresses…and hadn’t emailed ANY of them in two years! Oh my, what a waste!
So why is it that so many small business owners fail to recognize how powerful email marketing is? There are two main factors I’ve seen:
- Not understanding the power
- A belief that selling is rude
There are other peripheral reasons, but these seem to me to be the two biggest culprits. It surprises me how often business owners in sales-based businesses like retail, real estate, etc…are averse to involve themselves with sales!
It’s why I’ve written more than once on this blog how essential it is that we understand that we are all salespeople!
Let me cover both of these two concerns in just a bit more detail…
Not Understanding the Power
If you’ve not ever effectively worked an email list before, it’s easy to understand that you may not realize just how powerful it can be. Consider these benefits:
- Personal, effective interaction with your customers
- Communicate effectively with a large number of people, very inexpensively
- Establish entirely new income streams
- Test new product and service ideas
- Get hugely valuable feedback from your customers
And this is just a FEW of the powers email marketing contains :). If you haven’t done it before or haven’t had much success with email marketing and building a list for your business, consult with someone who has. Hire someone like me or talk with a friend or colleague who is very competent with it.
Success in business does not come from skipping the fundamentals. Email marketing and list building are fundamental!
A Belief that Selling is Rude
Email marketing and list building are often associated with spammers. This is an understandable association, but it’s completely inaccurate at the end of the day. Of course you do not want to come off as a spammer with your customers. But this does not mean you don’t sell to them!
The best way to not come off as a sleazoid salesman to your customers is not to skip selling…it means you need to do it skillfully! The belief that selling is rude and distasteful is widespread, and I feel it’s one of the main factors that causes many business owners to miss out on a lot of great opportunity. As a result, they don’t sell at all.
What Happens When You Don’t Build a List?
So what’s the alternative? It’s important to look at your options. I mean, you’re either going to build a list and work it…or you’re not, correct? As a business owner, you need to make sales. That’s a given. But if you have the mentality that selling is rude or that email marketing is unnecessary, you’re going to have to use other means of building your business.
Traditional marketing and advertising still work to a certain degree, and you can also just sit back and assume that everyone will come seek you out because you’re so awesome 🙂
Candidly, if you don’t use email marketing, the results are simple…you just don’t get the benefits of it! In other words…
- Less personal, less effective interaction with your customers
- Communication with your customers is more expensive and less pervasive
- You do not have as many income streams at your disposal
- Product testing is more guesswork; market research is much more expensive and time consuming
- Getting valuable feedback from your customers is more difficult and expensive
I try to be as careful as possible in saying you HAVE to do something in business. Do what works…if you’re meeting all your goals and do not need to grow, then there is simply no need to change what you’re doing.
But beware of assuming that your business and market share are static in nature. If you have competition…they will be happy to squeeze you out. Are THEY using email marketing? If they are, then they are getting all the leverage and power of this tactic, and you are not. Are you cool with that, and can you survive despite the fact that your competition is engaging all their customers on a much more personalized and helpful level than you are? It’s something to consider.
How Do You Use Email Marketing Tactfully and Effectively?
Of course BAD email marketing is not helpful…in fact it can be done so poorly that it does more damage to your brand than good. Perhaps this is what my reader was just referring to, and I’ve blown this whole thing out of proportion!
That said, I do see a number of business owners not doing this, so it’s a point worth making regardless.
So how can you create an email marketing campaign that’s well-received, highly valued, even anticipated and yearned for by your customers? The answer is quite simple. Give them what they want! Not to oversimplify, but this really is the key.
Sending your prospects email is not spam. Not if you follow these guidelines:
- They’ve specifically requested it
- You respect and cultivate the trust they’ve extended to you
- You do not email them too often (few people want to hear from your business every day, no matter how great and targeted your information is)
- You keep your messages targeted and not overly commercial
- Your focus is on creating a valuable resource for your prospects. Selling is kept as a welcome byproduct of the information you provide
- Use an email marketing platform like Aweber to handle your double opt ins, bounces, opt outs, etc. It’s not only much more efficient for you, but it keeps your list clean, efficient, and the deliverability is much higher.
If your outgoing messages follow this blueprint, it’s really pretty hard to screw things up. Look, if you’re providing a valuable product or service to people, and they’ve told you they want to hear about it…don’t let them down!
Is Email Marketing Just a Fad?
The assumption that all selling is spamming is still out there in a big way. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. Is email marketing a fad? Will it fall out of vogue at some point? I won’t argue that it will never be replaced, but SELLING will not ever be replaced.
Bottom line, if you want to succeed in business, you have to sell, and email marketing is a highly efficient, personal way to do it.
It’s true that spam filters will continue to get more sophisticated, but consumers are still going to consume. And in order to do so, they’re going to need information. Internet marketing is highly competitive. I consider this a really good thing. It means in order to stand out, you have to actually be good and provide a lot of value to people. Yes, SEO factors into it, but it’s mostly about…all always will be about…creating something valuable for people.
As long as you’re doing that, your email will always be welcome and appreciated by your customers.
What about you…do you feel email marketing is something that’s optional? Is it going to blow over? Have you found anything more effective in your own business?