If you’re reading this, you probably have an email address. You might even have two or three. The thing is, email is such an integral part of our lives. Most of the time we don’t even think twice about using it—which means it provides an amazing opportunity for you as a small business owner to utilize this free tool that nearly everyone uses to up your sales and win loyal customers. Email marketing can be very effective in keeping in touch with old customers, reminding them why they chose to buy with you in the first place and keeping them up to date with your business.
So how does one learn the art of writing to sell? And what are best practices to follow? Here are a few tips to get you started:
Know Your Objective
Before you decide to commence with email campaigns, make sure you have a clear strategy in mind. What is it precisely you are wanting to achieve? Do you want to deepen the quality of current business relationships? Do you want to educate your customers? Knowing why you are sending your emails and setting desired outcomes will help you craft a stronger message.
Remember Who You’re Dealing With
Advertisements are everywhere and often they’re a real nuisance. As you’re crafting your email campaign, remember that people are inundated with messages all the time. You might think what you’re offering is special, but there’s a chance your reader will think it’s not—especially if it’s an in-your-face type sales ploy. That’s why it’s critical to win your customers over by using your best manners.
Getting into someone’s email inbox is like being invited into someone’s home for dinner—it’s an invite to which subsequent visits can quickly be retracted if they find you rude, impertinent and all up in their business. Start by personalizing marketing emails whenever possible. Provide an unsubscribe option that’s clearly visible. And remember to only take voluntary subscriptions—you don’t want to put an end to a potential business relationship before it even begins.
Be the Bearer of Good News
Maintaining contact with your customers can be overwhelming, so a good rule of thumb is to start out small and send one email newsletter a month. Don’t forget that real people are on the receiving end of your campaign, so it’s ok to have a little fun with it and give your customers something they look forward to reading. If your store is opening a second location, tell them about it and provide some pictures of the new place. If your business keeps a blog, add links to your latest posts. Celebrate birthdays, highlight events and tell your clients all about the latest 5K your team ran for a local charity.
Don’t forget to make a big deal of your customers also—entice customers (both the dormant and active ones) to come back to your store with a coupon, sale or giveaway.
Provide Clear Calls to Action
Make it a habit to build in lots of opportunities for your customers to make a purchase, follow you on Twitter or send a referral code to their friends. Add useful links to your blog post images. Give a button with clear instructions for customers to receive a discount on their next purchase. Whatever it is you want your readers to do, make sure it’s really clear and easy to find.
Let Analytics Be Your Guide
Even best efforts and the most finely crafted messages don’t guarantee improved sales. Every month, spend time looking at reporting metrics to see which emails are more effective and have a higher rate of openings and click-throughs. These results will help you build your next campaign and give you a better idea of what resonates with your customers.
Say Thank You
It’s so very simple, but a sincere thank you now and again makes everyone feel appreciated and emotionally connected to your business. Your customers are so closely tied to making your small business dream work—and it’s important to remind them how grateful you are for their patronage. In a world full of sterile advertisements, a sincere message written from the heart will work its own magic to create raving fans.
Laura Walton is a freelance writer and contributor for StreetShares. She is passionate about all things social media and public relations as they relate to the topics of small business and veteran entrepreneurship. You can find her on Twitter at @lk_dubs.