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Why Local Businesses Need E-mail Marketing

  |  February 12, 2009   |  Comments

E-mail marketing offers a low-cost, easy way for local businesses to reach out to customers.

E-mail marketing can be a slam dunk for a local business. And it doesn't have to take too much time or money to make it work well. Why? Here are 10 reasons:

E-mail Marketing Can Offer a High ROI

We all know how important it is for small businesses to realize high ROIs (define). In addition, you're only advertising to people who already have some inclination to buy from you. Therefore, more of them are likely do so. With TV, radio, and newspaper advertising, you're expending resources on the population in general, instead of a targeted group.

It's an Inexpensive Form of Advertising

You don't really need any fancy programs, just a personal computer and an e-mail account. However, there are several time saving software programs that are reasonably priced, easy to learn and use, and include powerful features such as attractive templates. Most offer a free trial, so you may wish to experiment with a few of them.

Constant Contact has a 60-day free trial. iContact offers 15 days free and MailChimp has a pay-as-you-go plan, so it only costs you when you use it, rather than charging a monthly fee. It's easy to get overwhelmed by all the special features, but in reality, you only need the basics. First get started. Then, add some bells and whistles if you wish.

You Can Do It Yourself

Your e-mails don't need to use fancy words, long sentences, or complex composition. Each just needs to deliver one important message to your readers. You can do that yourself without help from writers or marketers. Just make sure to use a spell checker. Using your own voice in your e-mails can help to establish a personal connection, as well.

Stay Connected With People Who Want to Hear From You

Send messages to people who have freely given you their e-mail addresses because they want to get news and see offers from you. Does it get any better than that?

Test each of the addresses by e-mailing the account holder asking if it's OK to send e-mails to them. This confirms that they have chosen to receive communications from you. Most software programs automatically take care of this opt-in feature for you.

Keep in Touch With Shoppers

People only need certain goods and services occasionally, so you don't get many chances to make new customers (e.g., carpet cleaning, tree cutting, a used car, a puppy, new dishes, a tuxedo). However, if you keep your name in front of people, your e-mails can help them to think of you first when they're ready to buy.

Deliver a Focused Message

The best e-mails are short and easily understandable. When prospects can grasp your offer quickly without getting bored or feeling overwhelmed with information, they're more likely to take action instead of hitting the delete button.

You Can Send a Different Message to Different People

By segmenting your list, you can deliver specific information and offers to different groups depending on their interests, where they live, and what they've purchased from you in the past. Or you can send information about a specific event that may interest them, and so on. When people get e-mails containing relevant news and information, they will actually look forward to receiving more of them.

E-mail Is Searchable

Give people a reason to save the e-mails you send them, and, in most e-mail programs, those communications will become searchable. This makes it easy for people to retrieve a coupon or announcement you've sent them to refer to the information at a later time or forward to a friend.

E-mails Go to Mobile Phones

A growing number of people use cell phones to access their e-mail. This makes immediately actionable communications especially useful for influencing buyers and bringing in business quickly. Think about how you can use this powerful tactic in your business.

A restaurant, for example, can send out an e-mail message advertising a special discount good on that day only. A bookstore can notify fans when a newly published book by their favorite author is available just as soon as it arrives (and before they find it in another store). A movie theater can send out announcements on Friday afternoons showing which flicks they are screening to help influence those making plans for the weekend.

E-mail Can Be Deployed Quickly

Your message can easily travel from an idea in your head to the inboxes of those on your list in 30 minutes or less. Just choose your template, compose your offer, include a coupon or promotion code, if you're so inclined, decide who on your list should receive it, and hit send.

When you hit a slump in your business, limited time offers are an exceptional way to spur buyers into action. You can even compose several different offers in advance, then pull them out and send them when you need more business. This is a remarkably effective tactic and, if one offer doesn't work, try another until you find a winner.

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Mary Bowling

Mary Bowling has been involved in all aspects of online marketing since 2003. She has a special interest in Web site usability and in search engine optimization, including optimizing all types of media for search engines. Mary has also developed specialized expertise in promoting brick-and-mortar businesses on the Internet through local search marketing. She is currently doing independent consulting and working with seOverflow and Maia Internet Consulting in Denver, CO, optimizing and marketing a wide variety of businesses and nonprofits online.

Her accomplishments include speaking at Search Marketing Expo and Search Engine Strategies conferences on a variety of topics, conducting trainings and webinars for Search Engine Strategies and Search Engine Workshops, authoring popular white papers on local search and SEO for WordPress Blogs and speaking at SEMpx' s Searchfest.

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