Online marketing can be daunting for small and even medium businesses alike. To send an e-mail newsletter, a whole team must manage everything from creation to compliance with e-mail authentication to ensure delivery. Maintaining a Web site poses similar issues. But with the help of automation, any business can reach its customers online.
“There’s no reason why small businesses shouldn’t market like big businesses, especially now that there’s technology to make it easier,” said Scott Olrich, chief marketing officer at Responsys. The company is one of a number of on-demand marketing agencies that provide the ability to run marketing programs online. Services range from e-mail messaging to mobile marketing and transactional services such as shopping cart management.
One or more of these programs can be managed from a Web site and then evaluated for results. Entry-level marketing generally consists of an e-mail newsletter sent to customers. E-mail addresses are usually collected on your company’s Web site. A marketing program then handles an opt-in practice, where customers confirm their intent to subscribe, and the deliverability of the e-mail by adding layers of authentication: a communication with Internet service providers to verify the newsletter is not spam. What’s left is to write the e-mail and create any supporting logos, photos, or artwork to entice customers.
Barriers to digital marketing are fewer for small and medium-size businesses than in days past. Marketing automation platforms integrate more services and come in scalable packages. In the case of a small or medium-size business, a company might start out with e-mail then build an individual program that caters to the appropriate methods to reach its customers. Marketers might consider building a shopping cart or a transaction function on the site, where customers can purchase goods or services, or a mobile marketing program that sends text messages to customers based on triggers such as visits to the company’s Web site or the announcement of a sale.
“For midsize marketers, this should be their highest-performing and most cost-effective channel,” Olrich said. He said marketers should be focused on revenue maximization for the channel, not cost minimization.
While it’s possible for small companies to implement cross-channel marketing, reaching consumers by a handful of means, they may want to start simple with e-mail before expanding to other channels. Insurance provider MetLife, which has worked with Responsys since June of this year, concentrates on the e-mail channel. “We have two calls-to-action in our e-mails,” said Rick Hefferman, in Internet sales strategy for MetLife auto and home. “The first is to finish your quote. The other is to get in touch with the call center.” In the future, MetLife plans to link its e-mail and direct mail channels for more focused communication.
There are a few things to keep in mind if your business wants to start an e-mail campaign:
- Place e-mail capture above the fold: Place your e-mail signup in a prominent place on your landing page. And your business should do everything it can to capture e-mail addresses.
- Create a smart welcome program: Your first contact with customers once they opt in or request more information should offer something that continues the involvement. Consider offering a newsletter subscription, deals, or regular updates on products.
- Do transactional campaigns: E-mail campaigns that offer special purchases will encourage more commerce.
- Launch a win-back program for stray customers: Former clients are your best bet to buy your product. You have a 20 percent to 40 percent chance of winning back an ex-customer, and only a 5 percent to 20 percent chance of turning a prospect into a customer. Send messages to e-mail subscribers who haven’t recently purchased.
- Use customer feedback: Always take the opportunity to have customers fill out surveys or offer comments on products.