E-mail marketing is one of the most effective ways to keep in touch with customers. It is generally cost-effective, and if done properly, can help build brand awareness and loyalty. At a typical cost of only a few cents per message, it’s a bargain compared to traditional direct mail at $1 or more per piece. In addition, response rates on e-mail marketing are strong, ranging from five to 35% depending on the industry and format. Response rates for traditional mail averages in the 1-3% range.
One of the benefits of email marketing is the demographic information that customers provide when signing up for your email newsletter. Discovering who your customers really are – age, gender, income and special interests, for example – can help you target your products and services to their needs. Points to consider when creating your email newsletter:
* HTML vs. Plain Text: Response rates for HTML newsletters are generally far higher than plain text, and graphics and colors tend to make the publications look far more professional. The downside is that HTML email is slower to download, and some email providers may screen out HTML email.
* Provide incentive to subscribe: Advertise the benefits of receiving your newsletter to get customers to sign up for your newsletter, such as helpful tips, informative content or early notification of special offers or campaigns.
* Don’t just sell: Many studies suggest that email newsletters are read far more carefully when they offer information that is useful to the customers’ lives rather than merely selling products and services. Helpful tips, engaging content and humor are often expected to accompany email newsletters.
* Limit questions: As each demographic question you ask may reduce the number of customers signing up, it’s best to limit the amount of information you solicit or give customers the option of skipping the questionnaire.
Establishing a Web Presence
Even if you choose not to sell your goods or services online, a business web site can be a virtual marketing brochure that you can update on demand with little or no cost. Your presence on the Internet can be a useful marketing tool by providing richer pre-sale information or post-sale support and service. This might temporarily differentiate your product or service from your competitors’. E-marketing has lessened the disadvantage that small businesses have faced for years when competing with larger businesses.
E-Commerce has redefined the marketplace, altered business strategies, and allowed global competition between local businesses. The term “electronic commerce” has evolved from meaning simply electronic shopping to representing all aspects of business and market processes enabled by the Internet and other digital technologies. SBA is preparing to help this new generation of Internet-enabled or eSmall Businesses.
Today’s business emphasis is on e-commerce – rapid electronic interactions enabled by the Internet and other connected computer and telephone networks. Rapidly business transactions and unparallelled access to information is changing consumer behavior and expectations. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is reshaping its programs to better serve small businesses that taking advantage of the Internet and other emerging technologies.
Many small businesses assume that the Internet has little value to them because they feel that their product or service cannot be easily sold online. But inexpensive information processing and electronic media can help most small businesses provide better, faster customer service and communication.