Fundamentally marketing is about communication – and always has been. The digital age has done nothing to change this. What it has done however is significantly expand the communication options & reduce delivery costs. For SMEs this has opened up some great opportunities for developing and enhancing their marketing communications but the ease with which it can be accessed has also maybe reduced the perceived need for planning and measurement. Here, I focus on how effective email marketing can deliver cost-effective, sustainable communication for SMEs.
5 Golden Rules for effective email marketing
1. Do your preparation – Marketing only becomes truly effective when you have done the preparation to clearly understand what message you are trying to communicate and to whom you are trying to communicate it. With this in mind, an email marketing campaign must start with the marketing fundamentals of what is your offering, who is your target market and what are the benefits you will deliver to your customers. 2. Don’t ignore the list – Good email marketing relies on a well targeted and qualified list. All other things being equal, a bigger, well targeted list is always going to deliver better results and be more cost effective. But quality is at least as important as quantity. As your email campaign moves forward, keep an eye on building your list. Even if it is just a case of making sure when you meet someone in your target group, you get their email address and add it to your database. 3. Content is king – If developing your list is important, great content is essential. Remember (particularly with B2B marketing) you are not so much trying to sell your services/product directly, but more to engage with your audience and to develop your position as an expert in your field. Good emails are about informing and engaging rather than about selling. They build the framework against which the selling is done. If people have confidence in you and believe you can meet their needs, they will buy from you. 4. Commit & Plan – Good email marketing is a sustained process rather than a one off. In our experience this is one area where people fall down. Publishing your first email is a great feeling, but it is publishing your 5th, 10th or 20th when the process really starts to work. It’s not about sending one every week, but more about looking at what you have to say, and how often you can practically resource producing good quality content. Planning the frequency & content of emails should simply be a part of the ongoing management process and should dovetail with other activities (see rule 5). 5. Join it up – Email should not be seen in isolation, but rather as an element of a joined-up marketing approach. Often email can be used to support and promote other activities (eg events or exhibitions) and in turn, these activities will feed great content into the email process Although email is a great tool, it is not a magic wand, and to be effective it needs to be used as a tool in a joined-up marketing programme. When it is used in this way, it is a great resource for engaging and communicating effective messages with your marketplace – which is fundamentally what marketing is about. Follow these 5 rules, and you will be well on the way to delivering an effective email marketing programme.