Blog post - Zoë Dew Consulting - what is email marketing, where to start, how it works

“Email marketing is the act of sending a commercial message, typically to a group of people, using email. In its broadest sense, every email sent to a potential or current customer could be considered email marketing. It involves using email to send advertisements, request business, or solicit sales or donations.” – Wikipedia

Ok, this definition is from Wikipedia, but in this case, I will allow it because honestly? It gives the best definition I can find. I know the “commercial” bit of this definition might feel like it doesn’t apply to small business owners. The broad definition of “every email sent to a potential or current customer could be considered email marketing” does apply to every single business I have come across. It is the most important tool in your marketing arsenal. Don’t believe me? Let me explain.

According to Opt-In Monster, email is the most used form of communication when compared to social media. Also, it is the most preferred option for promo and sales over social media. Essentially, your customers would on the whole rather that you sold to them via their inbox than via their socials. Interesting, no?

Return on investment

The main consideration when it comes to email marketing or social media is the measure of return on investment. With social media marketing, it is really difficult to measure your return on investment. Of course, you can measure conversion rates and how many people purchase. But, not how many people have actually seen your content let alone taken anything from it.

Think about the Ultimate Moment of Truth and the touchpoints that everyone bangs on about. If consuming your social media output takes a few seconds, think about the time spent consuming an email. Email marketing is the best way with the written word to get in front of your ideal clients. Most importantly, it allows them to get to know you.

It gives you a long-form space to get super honest and vulnerable with them. Allow them to see that you are a real person that has worries and concerns. Also, you can show that you are an expert in your field. Potential clients can consume your content passively. They don’t need to commit to interacting with you. Many of us are lazy and want to be given options on a plate. Email marketing gives you the opportunity to do that.

Blog post - Zoë Dew Consulting - what is email marketing, where to start, how it works

How does email marketing fit into your business?

If you run a small business, medium business – hell any business – there will be a way that email marketing fits into your overall digital marketing structure. I once did a presentation to a mixed audience, and a florist who specialised in weddings spoke at how she just couldn’t see how email marketing featured in her business model. I suggested that she used it as a vehicle for her Pinterest boards, to inspire and encourage, which would in turn mean that she was appealing to her audience in more than just showing up on Facebook or Instagram every day like the tens of other florists the engaged couples were used to seeing.

Or take a dog trainer – this business is perfect for an email marketing campaign with tips every week on common problems they see with the dog owners they work with. Even my dad’s packaging company – we started putting together fortnightly thought pieces on news in the industry, environmentally friendly packaging options, how to get the most out of the packaging you have – there are few businesses that email marketing isn’t suitable for.

Is it the right time to start email marketing?

The best time to start building an email list is right now. Ok, maybe when you have finished reading this blog piece! But essentially, there is no time like the present. Not least because with more and more users of social media come more and more chances for the service to implode. None of us knows when Mr Z of Facebook and Instagram will start to charge for insights into our interactions, our followers, our groups.

At least with email marketing providers, we are able to take that data offline and keep a record of who has signed up to hear from us and therefore if everything did go pop we can start up again. Since I committed to emailing my list twice a week, I get more personal replies every single time, which gives me confidence in my audience and validates that it is absolutely the right route for me to pursue – so if I neglect my social media or my blog for a week or two it doesn’t matter because I know they will hear from me at least twice a week right in their phone or computer away from the noise of Instagram stories and Facebook groups.

Blog post - Zoë Dew Consulting - what is email marketing, where to start, how it works

How to get started with email marketing?

It’s pretty simple to start email marketing. Choose the right platform for you – I wrote an impartial blog on this here. I have my preferences and every person who uses email marketing in their business will also have a preference. However, it’s important that you make the right choice for you. I would suggest is that you choose the platform that appeals to you most now but can also serve you in the future. I have lost count of the times I have been on rescue missions with past clients. I’ve tried to get a landing page or automation to work because they chose a system that wasn’t robust enough to do what they wanted it to do when they were in a period of growth.

So, choose a platform. If you want to grow your list, create a sign up form and post that mofo everywhere. Encourage folk to join your list by being transparent on how they can benefit from signing up, what they are going to get from you and what you will use their information for. Don’t be shady, use the words “subscribe” and “get in touch regularly”; people need to know that you will be getting in touch with them on a regular basis (and it will help you keep yourself accountable).

Decide on a format. Decide on a sign-off. Choose a professional email address to send from. I could go on, and I will in future posts this month, but all in all, just start.