This post is part of my “Lead Generation For Small Businesses” series. If you haven’t already, take a look at that post for more ideas on lead generation.
Start an Email Campaign
The Money Is In The List
An easy way to reach out to potential customers is to get them on an email list. You can do this a variety of ways such as offering a newsletter to sign up for. However you do it, make sure you have their permission to email them. Otherwise, you’ll just be spamming them, which will annoy them and not be a good use of your time, or theirs.
So first you’ll want to get your email list together. You’ve probably heard the phrase “The money is in the list” at some point. What it means is that your mailing list is your prospect list. The people who have signed up for your mailing are people who have raised their hands when you asked them if they want to receive email messages from you. Meaning, they are interested in what you offer and therefore there is money to be made.
Others who sign up, may have already done business with you. This is your client list. Staying in touch with them, is an important way to make sure they come back to you when they need your services. Customer retention is critical for a small businesses. If they had a good experience with you, they will probably be loyal and work with you again, but the goal is to make it easy for them to come back and not let them forget you.
MailChimp or Emma?
Once you have your list together, you’ll want to pick a service for your email campaign. You could do it yourself, but it would be time consuming, and you won’t have access to analytics that will help you improve your campaign down the road.
There are a many different email services out there. Two of the most popular are Emma and MailChimp. I haven’t used Emma, but it looks to be highly competent. However, Emma doesn’t offer a free version, and for a small business, you can’t beat free. So MailChimp it is. They offer a free service for up to 2000 subscribers or 12000 emails a month. If you have a larger email list, you may want to take a closer look at Emma, but if you’re just starting out, I would say go with MailChimp.
MailChimp offers a ton of templates to customize your emails. I’m not a big fan of their editor, which is a little cumbersome to use, especially if you are switching between templates, but you can include your custom logo, change colors, etc. My advice is to pick a template that is basic, otherwise you’ll waste a lot of time trying to fit your content to the template.
With MailChimp, you can also choose who you send it to in your mailing list. Some messages might do better with a certain segment of your email list so MailChimp allows you to create and name groups so you can manage who you are targeting. MailChimp also allows you to track who opened your emails and what they clicked on, making it easy to see what is working in your emails and what is not.
You’ll want your content to be useful. You need to give prospects a reason to read your message. It could be an offer that will benefit them, or useful content they can use for their business. Just be sure to not waste their time. Try to have a goal in mind with your email. Ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish with the email. Who is it targeted towards? Does it work for the all the recipients? If it isn’t relevant to them, don’t waste there time. You should strive for a balance of staying in touch while still being relevant.
Once you figure out what’s working, stick with it and get rid of the things that don’t work and are wasting your time. If nobody is into your newsletter, just focus on the discount offers you’ve been sending out that are getting results.
Email campaigns are also where having a well thought out and put together brand identity really comes through. Your brand voice, especially verbal tone, comes into play in emails in a big way. So what is your brand tone? Is it edgy or professional, playful or smart, quirky or formal? Whatever it is, be sure to stick with it and check your individual messages against it so that your tone is always the same.
Your visual consistency is also as important as ever when you have only a second to grab someone’s attention. If your email isn’t branded, it may not look professional, so at the very least you’ll want to put your logo one the upper left hand side of the email.
Email campaigns are an opportunity to reinforce that your brand should be trusted to deliver on it’s promise. So if you want to land new customers, and retain existing ones, put together relevant, targeted content in an attractive package (brand identity) and you’ll be on the way to making your list pay off.