Small businesses often question how they can use email marketing to grow their business. The daily deal craze, largely driven by email, is hot but not suited to every type of business. There are many new and old ways to use email to drive new customers and retain existing customers.
Let’s look at three email tactics that you can put to use today.
1. Use Email to Double Your Conversion Rate
The vast majority of small businesses do not sell online. Doctors, lawyers, tradesmen, and others typically have a contact form or phone number on their website to inquire about services.
In our experience, the conversion rate from a visitor who calls or completes a Web lead form is somewhere between 3 percent and 8 percent. What happens to the vast majority who do not “convert?”
To make matters worse, many small businesses do a bad job of following up with the prospects who do contact them. If you ask, most small business owners believe that they convert a high percentage of leads with whom they speak. The truth is that in our review of recorded client sales calls, many good leads hang up after unreasonable hold times or get frustrated with under-trained employees. This is yet another hole in the funnel.
Let’s do some simple math: 100 visitors will lead to five leads (5 percent conversion rate). At least one of those leads will not reach a well-trained salesperson and give up. Of the remaining four, a great business will close 50 percent. A mediocre business will close less. That means for all of the hard work it took to get 100 visitors, they close two sales.
Doubling that isn’t too hard when you:
- Add a lower commitment conversion to your website for list building. With the right call to action, you’ll be able to capture another 3 percent to 8 percent of the visitors that aren’t quite ready to call or fill out a lead form. That could be a newsletter signup form or a buyers guide / whitepaper that requires an email address. Once you have that email address…
- Nurture prospects with autoresponder sequences. According to Marketing Sherpa’s B2B Marketing Benchmark Study, 73 percent of prospects are not sales ready. Whether the prospect actually completes your lead form or joins your mailing list, develop an auto-responder sequence of email messages that nurtures the prospect and gets them ready to close. It can also re-engage the set of prospects who couldn’t reach you on their first attempt.
With these small changes, you should be able to double your conversion rate. Instead of five leads, you’ll have 10 leads (five from your lower commitment conversion and five from the original example).
Let’s say that with the proper nurturing, you can close 30 percent of the extra five leads (1.5), and with the better contact plan, you close 50 percent of the original five (2.5). That gets you four new sales without a single extra visitor to your website.
2. Improve your local listings
According to David Mihm’s Local Search Ranking Factors, the quality of your Google+ Local reviews is an important factor in your local search ranking. Better local search rankings mean more exposure and traffic to your website.
If you want more reviews on your Google+ Local page, you can either just hope that your customers will take the time to find it and write a review or you can ask them to write a review and then make it easy to do. We recommend the latter and email is a big part of making it work.
First, decide when you will ask customers to write a review. The ideal time is immediately after the customer uses your service. For some businesses (e.g., fencing contractor), this only happens once but other businesses have repeat customers (e.g., nail salon). Build an email template to thank them for their patronage and request their feedback to share it with future prospective customers. Include a link from your email to Google+ Local.
Next, decide how often you will send out the “thank you” and “review request” emails. Smaller volume businesses may want to send them once or twice per month. Higher volume businesses may decide to send email daily. The trick is to make it simple. Setup an autoresponder program that will send emails anytime someone is added to a list.
3. Activate your dormant customers
In our business, we are surprised at the number of dormant leads or former customers who reactivate their services because of something they read in our monthly newsletter. This is also true for many of our customers who send monthly newsletters.
Too often, businesses over-complicate their monthly newsletter. The main goal is to generate an impression of your company for current and previous customers so they think of you as an authority on your industry.
- Research the Newsletter: Follow three or four sources of industry or local news. You can also use your blog as a source. Review those sites and select news that is relevant to your customers. You want general news stories, not anything too specialized or technical.
- Write the Newsletter: Write a good intro story and when appropriate, add your analysis and point out how the news may impact your customers’ businesses. For those customers who may want more information, provide a link to the full article.
- Send the Newsletter: Now plug the content into a pre-defined email newsletter template and send. Make sure you enable “forward to a friend” so that it is easy to get referrals from current customers.
These three tactics will help you get great results from email marketing.
Photo credit: Gold Bullion – courtesy © Maxim_Kazmin – Fotolia.com
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