By Rieva Lesonsky
The key to running a successful business is enticing customers and clients to do business with you. So whether you’re scrambling to lure customers back during a global pandemic or expanding your markets during “normal” business times, the question is, How do you do that? What are the best ways to get customers to come to your store, website, restaurant, office, etc.?
We all know the answer: it’s marketing. But marketing is not a simple process. There are various practices, tactics, and strategies that are part of an overall marketing plan—and they are constantly evolving. It can make formulating a marketing plan for your small business overwhelming.
To help simplify the process, there is one marketing method that has maintained its claim to fame. Email marketing still promises to deliver the highest ROI of all marketing channels—$42 back for every dollar you spend.
That’s not to say email as an industry, and your approach to it, isn’t evolving—it is, or it should be. As Tom Kulzer, CEO and founder of AWeber, a leading email marketing solution for small businesses, says, “The most effective [email] marketing strategies adapt, grow, and innovate.”
AWeber recently released its 2020 small business Marketing email marketing Statistics Report, featuring insights from small business owners and industry experts. These are the techniques that are working for other small business owners. See if they’ll work for you as well.
While email marketing can boast about its effective ROI, not all small businesses are using it. According to the report, 66% of businesses surveyed say they use email marketing to “promote their businesses or communicate with leads and/or customers.”
If you are not among that percentage, it’s time (past time, actually) to incorporate email into your marketing strategy. If the ROI isn’t enough to convince you, remember, email is the marketing channel most consumers say they want businesses to use to communicate with them.
Still, you likely have questions if email marketing will work for you. Take a look at some common questions the survey addresses.
How effective is email marketing?
Very. Of those surveyed, 79% say it’s “important” or “very important” to their businesses. However, while business owners acknowledge the importance of email marketing in general, only 60% think their own email marketing strategies are “effective” or “very effective,” while 26% say it’s either “ineffective” or “very ineffective.”
Effective email strategies are “personal, targeted, and crafted with the customers’ objectives and objections in mind.”
How do you measure success?
You cannot know how effective your email marketing is without defining the parameters you want to measure. The two most common measurements for small businesses are open rates and click-through rates:
- Open rates—65% of small businesses average open rates between 11% and 50%.
- Click-through rates—The study showed many small businesses need to improve their click-through rates; 77% of small businesses average email click-through rates between 0% and 10%.
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How often should I send emails?
Nearly 40% of survey respondents report they send emails “at least once a week but less than daily.” More than 30% send emails “at least once a month but less than weekly.” And about 12% either send emails daily or less than once a month.
Still not sure what to do? Mark Asquith, the cofounder and CEO of Rebel Base Media, advises those who are just starting to use email marketing send an email once a week. “Rather than sending more, test what you already do. Then test frequency,” he says.
His main point is you shouldn’t be sending more emails that don’t work and less emails that do work—and the best way to determine that is to “Test, test, test!”
But, warns Ramit Sethi, the author and founder of I Will Teach You to Be Rich, don’t worry that much about how often you send emails. Sethi doesn’t think frequency is the most important factor for email success; he believes content is. “Writing amazing emails that provide value is [most important],” he says. “If your emails are incredibly entertaining, informative, and engaging, you can send as many as you want.” To measure their effectiveness, Sethi says, “Watch your open rates and unsubscribe rates closely.”
Does list size matter?
Most (43%) of the participating small business owners have email lists between 0 and 500 subscribers. Slightly more than 30% have between 1,001 and 9,999 email subscribers, and less than 7% of small businesses have more than 50,000 subscribers.
Does the size of your list impact effectiveness? Yes, but don’t let that discourage you. It appears having at least as few as 500 subscribers makes a difference. Of the small businesses surveyed, 42% with more than 500 subscribers say their email marketing strategies are effective or very effective, while only 20% of businesses with 500 or less subscribers say the same.
Obviously, growing your list is important. “The bigger your list, the more conversions you can achieve,” says Kath Pay, the CEO and founder of Holistic Email Marketing. She advises small business owners to “ensure your subscribe form is above the fold, in a prominent, easy-to-access position on your website. Have this form available on every page of your site.”
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Twitter @Rieva, and visit her website SmallBizDaily.com to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.