There are many ways to market your small business, but email marketing is perhaps the easiest, least expensive, and most effective marketing strategy available today.
Constant Contact recently surveyed more than 3,000 small business owners in an effort to better understand their unique challenges and perspectives. The results of that survey showed that marketing was one of the owners’ greatest challenges, greater even than sales and growth planning. While 29 percent of respondents reported that they were cutting back their marketing budgets, they noted that they were also seeking new ways to make their marketing efforts more effective. This makes sense. When faced with obstacles, small businesses work harder to stay close to their customers and be more flexible. Now there are affordable tools that help them do that with their marketing as well.
While there are many tools in the digital marketing toolkit, small businesses are advised to begin with email marketing, often considered the easiest, most effective, and most affordable tool. Why? Well, for starters, email marketing is easy to do. There are professional services that enable businesses to easily create professional-looking email marketing campaigns. Also, email marketing provides a good base for building relationships with customers. Everyone uses email, and it is a low-pressure environment for reaching new and existing customers. Additionally, email marketing is a great launching pad for your other marketing efforts. It provides a platform for adding new digital marketing tools, as businesses become more comfortable with online, digital communication. For example, over time, surveys and polls can be added to an email newsletter, incorporating the ability to gather feedback and begin a more interactive marketing relationship. That feedback can be integrated into your product or used to develop content for the next newsletter.
Social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube, shorten the feedback loop to nearly real time. By incorporating links to YouTube videos, “top tweets” from Twitter, and photo albums from Flickr into their newsletters, businesses can give their audience more ways to engage without adding cost. Not every channel will make sense for every company, but social networks allow businesses to broadcast their content, and any time busy small business owners can replicate a “personal” communication across many relationships, they save their most precious resource: time.
By adopting this dynamic marketing tactic, many small business owners have created an interconnected marketing effort that creates consistent reinforcement of their messages across a variety of marketing platforms. For example, a Twitter feed can include links to a sign-up page for an email marketing newsletter; the content of the newsletter can be reposted on a blog, which can in turn offer a link to a survey; a survey can then generate content for the other three platforms. A dynamic marketing program such as this will help extend relationships with current customers, create inroads with potential customers, and fend off competitive threats.
For all those small business owners who don’t know how to get started, or who are concerned that they can’t afford their current marketing buy, the prescription is simple: Begin with email marketing. Layer on additional digital communications elements as they make sense for the business and as time allows. The technology tools are generally very easy to adopt, and they provide value immediately. Soon, a multifaceted campaign will have emerged, at little cost to the business. And, in today’s climate, what could be better than a smart campaign that doesn’t break the bank?
Wendi Caplan-Carroll is the regional development director at Constant Contact. She is a marketing expert with over 10 years experience developing and implementing marketing strategies for businesses and organizations spanning a variety of industries. Wendi coaches small businesses and organizations on best practices of email marketing, designing strategic marketing initiatives and developing creative approaches to marketing with the use of online tools.
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