Keeping your customers is crucial to your business success. If you are going to succeed as your own boss, you must understand that the most valuable asset in your business is your existing customer list. Now hear this: It’s cheaper to keep a customer than to go out and get a new one. It’s a widely held belief that in many industries it costs five-to-ten times more to acquire a new customer, than it does to keep an existing customer. This is particularly true in the competitive retail and restaurant industries, for example, where acquisition costs are high and ongoing customer service costs are relatively low. By no means do I suggest that you stop marketing – because let’s be honest, you can never have too many customers. But at the same time, it is imperative you keep customers you already have coming back.
In order to keep customers and maximize customer value, you must communicate with them on a consistent basis. Email marketing is one of the best ways to keep your name in front of your customers, prospects and strategic targets. Email marketing is also a cost-effective way to build brand loyalty and communicate your latest products and services to your customer list.
When it comes to best practices for email marketing campaigns, use common sense; don’t spam your customers. Most how-to articles on email marketing focus on developing email content, but how you create and manage your subscriber list is just as important. If you use the following email marketing tips, you will generate repeat business and customers will see you as a valuable resource.
1. Use a Double Opt-In System
Make sure that you have your customers’ permission before you start marketing to them. A double opt-in system requires a new subscriber to open a confirmation email and click a link to confirm their subscription. Using this kind of system will ensure you have a valid subscriber list which you can transition to a new emailing marketing system if you ever need to. It’s always best to have proof that your customer requested to receive emails from you.
2. Have an Opt-Out Process
Make it easy for customers to opt-out of receiving your emails. Customers who no longer want to receive your emails should not have to hound you to get off of your list. Honoring the requests of your customers is not only good business, but it’s also the law. It should only take a single step to opt-out of your list. Be sure to honor all unsubscribe requests quickly.
3. Service is the New Selling
Do not use a direct sales pitch in your emails. The main content in your email should be a customer service-oriented message that solves a problem and highlights a solution your company can provide for your customer.
4. Focus on One Message
Email newsletters are expected to include several messages, so this tip doesn’t really apply to newsletters. But if you’re sending a broadcast or non-newsletter email, then stick to one primary message. The more information you pack into an email, the higher the chance your customer will hit the delete button. Keep customers through focused and helpful email content, and spend time developing a good email subject line.
5. Customize Your Template
Instead of sending out generic emails, customize your template to reflect your brand, colors and fonts. Use the customer’s name in your message whenever possible. By using the same email template for everything, you will help your customer recognize your company and generate feelings of trust and brand loyalty.
Stay in touch with your customers and send them offers, updates, and valuable content. With pbSmartTM Connections, you can easily build, track, and deploy email marketing campaigns that help grow customer loyalty.
6. Close with a Call to Action
Each email you send should spell out exactly what you want the recipient to do. Make links obvious and highlight any deadlines or special directions. Be repetitive when it comes to the call to action in your newsletter – include it toward the top of the message and recap it again at the end.
7. Offer a Plain Text Version
Provide a plain text version of your e-newsletter that contains the same message but is stripped of all graphics and your template. You should be able to accommodate customers that cannot view email messages in HTML.
8. Review Your Stats
Most email marketing services provide analytics and statistics so you can monitor your open rates, click-throughs, bounces and any unsubscribers. Try a few different subject lines, formats and link placements and then compare your success rates.
Keeping your customers is important because, but just because they did business with you once doesn’t mean that they know all the ways they can work with you. Stay connected with them and shorten the gap between communications so customers don’t forget about your business. Remember it’s cheaper to keep her or him in your pipeline than it is to attract a new customer.
Watch Melinda’s free recorded webinar, “How to Better Communicate with Your Customers“.
Melinda F. Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady is one of America’s leading small business experts. She is not a Pitney Bowes employee and is a paid contributor to the pbSmart™ Essentials blog. As a seasoned entrepreneur, professional speaker, and small business coach, she develops audio, video, and written content to fulfill her mission to end small business failure. As CEO of MFE Consulting LLC, Melinda educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on subjects including small business start-up, business development and social media marketing. Forbes Magazine named her one of the Top 20 Women for Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter. She also publishes a resource blog at www.succeedasyourownboss.com.