3 Tips for Email Gold

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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.

Pure gold bullion

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

Chad Hill

Chad Hill

Co-Founder & CEO at HubShout
Chad Hill is the CEO of HubShout, a U.S.-based full service online marketing firm and SEO reseller program. Services include SEO, PPC, Websites, Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing, and Customer Reviews. Previously, Chad served as Business Development Director at America Online and worked in product management at FOLIOfn Investments, Intuit and the financial services group at American Management Systems. Chad holds a BA with honors from the University of Florida and an MBA with honors from Georgetown University.
Chad Hill

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  • http://www.hubshout.com Eric

    Email definitely isn’t one of the coolest and newest things out there when it comes to online marketing, but it’s one of those products you really need to work with. I agree with sending emails out asking customers to leave a review on your Google page. Email is a low pressure and high return way to get a few nice reviews for others to see. If you don’t ask, they’ll never do it. Email’s also a good way to keep customers in contact with the business.

    Keep that company brand in the mind of the customer before one of your competitors gets to them first!

  • Chris

    The author here couldn’t be more right. Email isn’t the shiniest or newest way to reach potential new or return customers, but it certainly works. Even if you are attracted to the latest and greatest social media methods or even mobile apps, good old email is worth the effort.

  • Nicole

    I’m curious to know if there has been any research done on the optimal number of emails to ensure results (either simply opening the email, going to the website from an email, purchasing something, etc.)? I know that personally, if I get too many emails from a company, I get annoyed and unsubscribe. If I hardly ever get any, it’s sometimes easy to breeze by the email as I’m skimming my inbox (and say to myself, “who are you, again?”). But there seem to be a number of companies that email me just frequently enough to stay on my radar, but not so often that they become a nuisance. Any studies or insight on where that “sweet spot” is for various industries?

    • http://hubshout.com Chad

      Nicole. Great question. There are probably tons of research stats but what I normally see is that email marketers pay attention to their unsubscribe rates. If they feel like they are pushing the limits… and the unsubscribes show it.. they notch it down a bit. You may also notice that some unsubscribe forms actually have a few questions to get better data.

    • Michael

      Getting too many emails from a company and you unsubscribe..! Could it be because many emails are non tailored and blindly sent out by the masses? Pay attention business owners you’re customers are saying what they don’t like. Be relevant, send emails to customers that like a specific item or items you offer. Capture specific metrics about your daily users and retarget specifically.

  • Jason

    Simply put email is sustainable. Email has been around since the dawn of the internet and is still one of the most if not the most popular activity for computer users. If a business is not engaged in email marketing they really are missing out. I make sure that my clients are all set up with the email marketing platform. Its cost effective and it works. Also keep in mind that the first thing to truly transfer from the desktop to the mobile was email….

  • carissa

    Great article and so true. Email marketing is great for all business to move customers through the buying cycle.

  • Jenna

    I love this article! I love how it’s focused on getting the most out of your current website visitors, using email. The tips are all great, especially adding a lower commitment conversion opportunity to the website. Interesting way to put it.

    • http://hubshout.com Chad

      Thanks for the compliment

  • Dave

    I can relate quite a bit to the fact that so many times the synergy between email and every other type of marketing you are doing online can be forgotten. Sure email seems outdated and dare I say it “Boring”, but it works! For one client I saw a ton of lead gen from Facebook that had not been nurtured at all. Then they sent out an email to the list after building it over a couple months time and conversions went through the roof for a few days there! It is interesting to see how a well thought out email can be the push the end consumer needs to finally get them to step forward.

  • http://Campayn.com Campayn

    While e-mail isn’t the coolest kid on the block anymore, it still has the ability to turn results and that’s what companies are looking for. A lot of people confuse social media as being the tool that is going to get them sales, social media is merely meant to be social and to build your brand – not to sell, sell, sell. That’s what I advocate for a campaign that integrates both.

  • http://hubshout.com Ellen G

    The real gold is the email address and you’re definitely more likely to get it if you have a lower conversion commitment. Good suggestion.

  • Adam

    I like the “Lower Commitment Conversion” idea. That seems really smart. It is sort of the modern day equivalent of foot-in-the-door. I’m going to show you I have something of value that will make you want to give me a little more information or time. Then you can keep selling to the prospect, incrementally.

  • Matt

    Email is a challenge for most online marketers because most clients do not want to pay a lot of money to have their email campaign managed. They are missing the boat. We need to do a better job as an industry in educating our clients.

  • Peter

    Email became passe a few years ago, and a lot of marketers forgot about it. This has made it a viable marketing platform once again — even more important than it used to be.

  • Renee

    I work with a lot of small businesses and following up is a huge missed opportunity for many of them. Email is great for that and can be accomplished with some well-crafted immediate auto-respond messages and targeted & relevant follow-up email nurturing. I think a lot of businesses are afraid of email because they equate it with the old school mass untargeted campaigns. If done right, email is a great way to nurture potential and current customers.

    Thanks for the article, Chad!

  • Terrance

    I think that Reviews for local businesses is a great way to use email marketing and to build their business. I feel like you are engaging the client and simply asking for a review. Which if people have a simple way of doing it without going out of their way they will do it. Great article.