There are 30.7 million small businesses in the U.S. which account for 99.9 percent of all U.S. businesses (U.S.Small Business Administration, 2019).
Small businesses have become catalysts of economic growth and performance. However, if you lift the veil and look underneath, you can see that small businesses are grappling with unique challenges that established enterprises don’t have to bother about.
Of course, small businesses have the advantage of having talented knowledge workers in the workforce, however, that does not solve the inherent challenges of running a business, like:
- Tight budget
- Heavy competition
- Limited resources
Most small businesses are unable to accelerate their growth because the biggest lever of growth is always in short supply for them. That is deep pockets for wide-scale marketing and advertising.
Reaching the target audience, conveying the right message, and setting the path for conversion does not happen magically. And, there is no single marketing channel that can do it all. However, email marketing comes close to all of it.
In fact, even in the age of social media, email marketing delivers a 42x ROI on the investment. Now that is a number you cannot give a cold shoulder.
For small businesses, email marketing can be that growth lever that can accelerate growth. Here is how it helps:
How email marketing solves the marketing challenge
Email marketing helps small businesses reach their target audience directly in the place they frequent the most — their inboxes.
In the process, it also delivers on several benefits that you might miss seeing at first glance. Here is a round-up of them all.
1. Helps build stronger 1:1 customer relationships
Email is the closest to striking an individual conversation with a peso. Although it is often sent in bulk, it can be scripted to sound like directed to a single individual. If written well, you can make the user feel that the email is written keeping them in mind.
This helps build stronger relationships with customers. With carefully crafted email content, you can ensure that you stay on top of your customer’s minds for your offerings.
Also, you can use emails as a means to redistribute your existing content.
For example, Trello the productivity tool has the practice of sending emails that take users to their latest blogs. The emails are also embedded with CTAs that match the topics. They easily resonate with the user thus increasing the chances of a click-through to the original article.
By delivering value through your email content, you will be able to cement a better relationship with your customers. This will pave the way for loyalty amidst cut-throat competition in the long run.
2. Time and resource-efficient
For any small business, time, money, and allied resources are always hard to come by. Even for large-scale enterprises that have every resource at their disposal, it is hard to orchestrate a marketing strategy at scale. Every marketing strategy has several moving parts to it that need constant maintenance.
Email marketing, for one, happens to be on the side of small businesses. It is one of the most cost-efficient marketing channels available. Compared to other channels like SEO, display advertising, mobile, etc. emails are said to deliver a $40 RoI for every dollar spent.
Secondly, a large chunk of email marketing is automated. You have manual work to take care of in planning the email strategy, creating customer segments, managing the email list, and planning the frequency. Most of the tasks like sending the emails as per schedule, responding to email responses, etc. are taken by email marketing tools. That saves a lot of time and effort for your marketing team.
You can create automated welcome sequences, drip sequences, and even nudge customers who abandon carts through emails. Such automation not only saves you time but allows you to capture lost sales and nourish leads.
3. Facilitates targeted messaging
Most marketing channels allow for some level of targeting. Social media, for one, allows you to target users from a specific region, belonging to an age group, and having specific preferences. Email offers to target but in a different context.
With email marketing, you can create multiple segments of customers. It helps target a specific message and content to a segment of customers. You can create separate drip campaigns and eye-catching email subject lines for awareness campaigns, warm leads, and disengaged prospects.
The end result is that you will be able to maximize conversion across your marketing funnel with great ease. Your marketing efforts will be more focused and outcome-oriented than one that is shooting in the dark.
4. Helps with surveys and feedback gathering
Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Gathering customer feedback is but the strongest weapon in a marketer’s arsenal. Their feedback tells what is right with your product, what is wrong, and what needs to improve. Customer reviews also help with spreading the word (WOM guide by Referral Candy) about your business, brand, or product.
That said, it is impractical to approach each of your customers in person and ask for their feedback. However, email lets you do that. You can create a single survey using any feedback management tool such as Qualaroo and send it thousands in your email list in a single burst. You can use various forms of surveys like polls, text surveys, emoji scales, etc. to gather feedback.
Most email marketing tools also help you populate the responses and pick insights for driving future actions. In other words, email marketing can help take you closer to your customers and their wants.
The team at classic games platform Solitaired, for example, sent our emails where users could select which new solitaire games they wanted on the site. That feedback determined their product roadmap, and ultimately by prioritizing those games, they increased user engagement by over 10%.
5. Builds a self-owned subscriber base
Your email subscriber list is an asset that will yield returns for ages to come. However, building an email list is no easy task. You cannot buy a list either, since they will most probably be a chunk of redundant emails or spam.
Email marketing helps you build a subscriber base the right way. You can start with your existing customers, use your blog as a channel to build more subscribers, or even leverage your social media channels to swell your subscriber base.
Here is how Mad Fientist does it:
Once you have managed to grow it to a substantial size, you can use it for a long time to come. The only caveat being the ability to deliver valuable content. In the long run, this subscriber base can even turn prospects into paying customers.
It’s been 50 years since Ray Tomlinson sent the first-ever email using MIT’s Arpanet. Today, billions of emails are exchanged each day. Email marketing has grown and matured as an independent marketing channel that delivers the maximum RoI.
For small businesses, email marketing is a crucial growth lever. It offers all the benefits that they will need in a marketing channel. It is cost-effective, yields positive RoI for the long-term, and helps you bolster your relationships with customers. It also helps boost organic traffic inflow to the website. This is a great advantage considering the amount of hard work usually put in to drive incoming traffic.
Also, email marketing is almost immune to redundancy. Of course, like every other marketing channel, it evolves with time. Nevertheless, it retains its essence. And it is going to stay for the foreseeable future. Those small businesses which leverage it will see their growth happening steadfastly.
Will your business be one among them?
About the Author
Mehdi Hussen is the digital marketing manager at SalesHandy, a cold email outreach tool. He is passionate about helping B2B companies achieve organic growth and acquire new customers through data-driven content marketing. Mehdi writes about startup growth, digital marketing strategies, sales productivity, and remote work.