If you own a small business but like to think big, chances are you admire giant companies that have sales-forces with tens of thousands of field workers, such as Hindustan Unilever, ITC or the Life Insurance Corporation of India. Now, what if you could match them at a fraction of their costs — sitting in the comfort of your tiny office, with no real hires? It is possible if you get to think of email campaigns.
Imagine well-written emails that land in targeted inboxes, like a salesperson who manages to enter the living room of a would-be customer.
The power of website-linked technologies is the most effective way to turn old-fashioned emails into powerful sales-forces. However, there are some dos and don’ts you need to follow to get there.
The power of integration
Marketing works best when you have a one-stop tool that enables you to:
- Build a website
- Push sales
- Carry out email campaigns
- Promote sales on social media
- Monitor results of your efforts
- Get timely advice on what to do next
Think of it like building a virtual factory where your sales teams walk in and you hold meetings. Only, a customised dashboard does the talking for you.
Help is at hand when you have an automated option that can turn blog posts into emails (not even cut-and-paste needed!) and offer greetings with a personal touch. While doing that, you can keep the back-end buzzing to keep track of the real numbers.
Why email makes sense
Before all that, you need to stop and ask yourself if email really makes sense in the chaotic world of the internet. It is true that you have Instagram, Facebook and Google search offering you sales and marketing opportunities, but they are more like bazaars where somebody screams for attention in a crowd.
One article notes that 86% of top business professionals use emails to communicate for business purposes. Almost 59% of business-to-business marketers say email is the best way to make sales. It is common sense to note that when people answer emails (unlike when they are on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram) their minds are usually in ‘business mode.’
India’s active internet-connected population has easily crossed an estimated 450 million. It is safe to say that entrepreneurs, business people and the more educated consumers with higher disposable incomes are active email users.
A prime way to nurture new leads
There are ways to attract first-time customers through email drip campaigns. Drip campaigns are long-term efforts in which customers are wooed with a series of emails. These emails might share useful information, instructional videos and possibly, incentives.
Once you have decided to go the email route, you can look at case studies to stir your mind on the kind of approach to take. From Uber to Starbucks, there are loads of big brands that have gone that route — check out these email marketing examples for ideas.
There are also several Indian groups, companies and even charity organizations that have used email campaigns with success. These include everyone from lingerie maker Zivame to the giant Aditya Birla Group.
For the Indian market, remember not to ape global brands but come up with content that makes sense to the local culture.
Festivals like Diwali and Raksha Bandhan, when sister-brother relationships are celebrated, may be perfect occasions for email campaigns. Loyalty points and discounts both attract and retain customers, once you have them in your email net.
How to get started
You could always hire yourself an email marketing consultant, but a do-it-yourself approach can lower your costs. And you can do it in minutes.
The more powerful and easy-to-use the email software is, the more focus you can give to what you do best: crafting the product or service your customers want.
This means you should ideally have a dashboard from where you can see your email campaigns such that you can measure your outcome, alter your strategy and count your costs. Flexibility is vital.
But make sure that you align the three Cs well in order to rise above the spam culture:
Good content shared via email generates a response. Timely articles, news and useful or entertaining videos will help you attract people who begin to look forward to your emails.
Once you have a community of interested readers, they are like an audience waiting to be wooed.
Wait! There is a fourth C that could well be the secret sauce for the first three Cs to work: creativity. A good-looking, visually smart website is half the job, but using that for sales leads is like hiring the right staff after you have built a cool showroom.
How to use email for your business: The basic steps
Once you have chosen an email tool, the steps to creating your first email campaign are as follows:
1. Invite readers to sign up for email from you
Before you can email potential customers, you must first ask for their addresses. If you have a well-worded hook line next to an email signup box on your blog and on your website, it works best.
You could always buy email lists, but beware of being called out as a spammer on social media! You don’t want your brand to be part of a #MeToo moment for spamming. Remember, nothing works like steady, voluntary additions to your email list.
2. Create good email messages
Here are some ideas on email content that people will enjoy receiving:
- News and information on or about the community being targeted (e.g. job moves, industry data, product launches and updates)
- White papers or eBooks on serious concept issues
- Tips and advice on life and lifestyles
- How-to videos that help your readers do things
- Trendspotting to help the audience imagine a future
Remember, creativity attracts eyeballs, and it pays to spend your marketing rupee on that while saving on what can be done in an automated, low-cost way. Embedding links in emails to drive traffic is a good idea. The subject lines should be inviting but not in a deceptive way.
3. Measure the response
The most skillful email practitioners try a variety of email approaches. Then they keep a close eye on how many people respond to each one, including the number who take the desired action — for example, they request an estimate or click through to your website. Those emails that get little response are discarded, while the successful emails are sent over and over.
Send your first email campaign soon
You could say focused, well-timed email campaigns are like Alladin’s genie.
If you rub the right technology together with creative minds that know how to play with words, you have done the digital-age Alladin act. Happy marketing!