Email Marketing is a Strategy You Can Afford

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Having been involved in a large number of startups, I know how expensive advertising and promotion can be. For the beginning entrepreneur those expenses can be prohibitive.

Email marketing is a great solution.

Having been involved in a large number of startups, I know how expensive advertising and promotion can be. For the beginning entrepreneur those expenses can be prohibitive. After all, you’ve just put most of your budget into product/service development, manufacturing, hiring, legal fees, etc. But unless you have deep-pocket backers, getting the word out about even the greatest product will be extremely difficult without some sort of promotion.

Email marketing is a great solution. And I’m not telling you it’s only for new businesses that may be cash strapped. After all these years I can afford to budget cash for advertising, but I still rely on email (and social media, but that’s a subject for another blog) as an efficient, practical, and economical way to build my businesses.

Because email marketing is scalable, it costs no more to send out one email than it does a million, though if you use an email service you may be charged extra once you reach a certain number of customers. Emails reach in-boxes on computers and mobile devices. And it’s targeted, which means it can be personalized.

Customers also feel more engaged with your company and product that they would from scattershot ads in magazines and newspapers that they’ll just skip over. When they “opt in” to your emails, you can be sure your message is welcome and being read.

I’m currently building two successful startups using email marketing for almost all of my promotions. Here are some tips on how you can do the same.

Send your emails on a regular schedule

Commit to sending out your messages a certain number of times each month. I’ve found one per week is enough to keep you front-of-mind to your audience. Get your customers into the habit of expecting those emails on your regular schedule.

Don’t send too many too often

If there’s one thing that turns me off (and will surely anger your prospects and customers) it’s being inundated with emails. Too many and they’ll quickly hit the “unsubscribe” link. You’ll have to find the right balance between too few and too many. With my new startups, I’ve found that one email per week is right, but your business may need fewer.

Quality content keeps customers and prospects

Once you’ve set the quantity, be absolutely sure your emails exhibit the right quality. Always have something new, important, and/or informative to say. Sending out emails without a legitimate promotional purpose will soon put it into your customers’ and prospects’ heads that opening your messages is a waste of time.

Segment your mailing list

When people subscribe to your emails, you should try to gather some demographic information on them. Sex, age, location, and if possible, income level are all important segments. You’ll then be able to make small changes to your messages in order for them to be more personalized – and thus more relevant – to your recipients. It may be that each week you send out three, four, or five variants, but the core message of your emails to each segment will remain the same, as is your cost.

Offer them something

Consumers are price-conscious. Can you give them a one-time discount? How about free merchandise when they’ve reached a certain cumulative dollar amount of their purchases? If your message is to your sales force, is there some sort of incentive you can offer to increase their sales? Prizes? Cash? Vacations? A car allowance? Make your customers, prospects, or representatives want to hear what you have to say because it may profit them, not you.

There are whole books written about email marketing strategies (perhaps I’ll write one someday!), so these tips are just a place for you to start, but I hope I’ve given you some food for thought when it comes to promoting your own startup, or even an established business.

Carly Layne