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By Jon Steiert Updated on October 6, 2021

Why Small Businesses Should Be Obsessed With Email

With social media’s rapid evolution and proliferation, it’s easy to get preoccupied with new methods for reaching and engaging with your customers via various platforms. While social media is a key piece of your marketing strategy, don’t discount the nearly 50-year-old and still vital tool — email.

In fact, investing in an email list is one of the wisest marketing decisions for your business. Consumers who visit your site via email link will spend an average 138% more than customers who don’t reach your site through email, according to a report from Campaign Monitor.

Here are the top benefits of email marketing and the first steps to take as you build your strategy.

Email Marketing: Strengthen Your Customer Connections

As digital business expert and speaker Chris Brogan sees it, your email list is better than having a large number of social followers. “An email list is the best way you can know, for sure, the absolute potential of who you can address in a one-to-one format as opposed to the “potential” of what [a social network audience] is and can be.”

While Facebook and other social networks offer the opportunity to acquire the attention of strangers, email extends businesses the ability to communicate with people who have already granted companies permission to talk to them.

Having an idea of who you’ll be speaking to is much more valuable than guessing who you’ll be reaching.

The Benefits of Email for Small Businesses

When people share their email addresses in exchange for your company’s news and discounts, it’s their endorsement of your business and it’s your opportunity to learn more about what your customers want. When people subscribe to your email list, you now “own” data that you can put to work for your business.

Easily, one of the best parts of building an email list is how much you’re able to decipher about your customers. Having their email alone won’t give you any idea into where they’re from, their favorite sports teams, or when their next birthday will be, but you now have an avenue through which you can inquire.

A woman stands in front of a giant laptop and taps a digital envelope protruding from the screen in this concept illustration of email.

Learn More About Your Customers 

Social media advertising costs can vary, with Facebook’s advertising averaging about 97 cents per click. Some of the advancements in advertising targeting are profound.

With Facebook Ad Manager, businesses can upload their own email lists into the system, allowing them to see how many of the people they communicate with are on Facebook. You get a clearer picture of who your customers are.

Facebook’s Audience Insights will inform you where the majority of your email list resides, other Facebook pages they’ve “liked,” their level of education, as well as their gender and ages. All of this data is in aggregate, but it can still help guide your next sales promotion or your entire communications strategy.

Creating a custom audience with your own email data allows businesses to control who they’re marketing to, ultimately providing greater control of their overall budget.

Share Exclusive Promotions

Once you have a more complete picture of who your customers are, you can experiment with what they want to receive from your business.

If you’re running a professional services company, you could create a contest that’s exclusively for your email list. This can be a great way to reward email list subscribers, in addition to being a great carrot to encourage more people to sign up.

Creating a program of exclusivity makes your email list a destination. 

Direct, Private Engagement

Social networks offer customers, prospects and readers the chance to engage with businesses in a public forum. But often, the best approach is 1-to-1 communication.

The privacy email affords makes direct contact much safer and comfortable for all parties involved. If a customer has an issue and is unavailable to speak over the phone, email is the best way to review any questions, comments and concerns.

Ask for Feedback

Knowing where you stand with your email list is important. If people aren’t responding to your messages as they once had, that’s a clear sign of stagnation and you’ll want to take immediate action to address any issues.

However, even when things are going well, sending out a friendly survey that gauges your performance and your subscribers’ overall satisfaction is a great way to show that you care. And being open to subscribers’ feedback is a  way to find better solutions for your offerings.

Implementing this feedback to improve your products or services shows you’re committed to providing a solid customer experience.

A man stands in front of digital button that reads "send" as digital envelopes float away in this concept illustration of email.

How to Start Building Your Email List

Getting people to sign up for your content and promotions gives you the opportunity to reach your most desirable consumer segment. 

However, capturing emails can be difficult. Just about every business, local and national, is competing for the attention of your target audience, and there are only so many promotions and company newsletters people can handle each week.

So how do you cultivate the best group of subscribers for your own business’s email list? There are several business-specific options to pursue.

For example, if you’re running a restaurant, one of the easiest ways to acquire a new email address is with your physical assets. Adding a flyer to a customer’s bag or a clear call to action at the top or bottom of their receipt is perfect for a takeout place or food truck. In contrast, a sit-down restaurant could benefit from promoting the benefits of joining their mailing list on a table tent.

A retail store can build its base by promoting a membership program, giving members the chance to gain exclusive discounts. For a professional service organization, like a CPA or law office, providing free consultations for new subscribers could be incentive enough for curious website visitors to share their email.

Jon Steiert is a content writer focused on making business and financial information accessible to any business owner. He’s always on the lookout for fascinating stories that just haven’t been told properly.
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