With the end of the year upon us, many small businesses and nonprofits are already thinking about how they’re going to do things bigger and better in 2015.
And while there’s nothing wrong with resolving to do big things, you shouldn’t forget to look back and appreciate your achievements of the past year.
At Constant Contact, there’s nothing we love more than celebrating our customers’ success.
From animal rescue organizations, to rock climbing gyms, to real estate agencies, we are constantly inspired by the creative ways you do more for your business or your cause with successful email marketing.
We’ve featured a ton of great success stories this year, so before 2014 comes to a close we’d like to look back and remember some of the best lessons we’ve learned from these successful small businesses and organizations.
Consider these 10 tips as you plan for success in 2015:
1. Make a good first impression
Tallega Software — Irvine, California
Derek Gerber, of Tallega Software, knows that getting off on the right foot is an important first step in developing a long-lasting customer relationship.
To introduce new and potential customers to his business, Derek created a series of automated emails with helpful content and information related to the services his company offers.
Using Constant Contact’s autoresponder tools, Derek is able to create the series of messages all at once and easily add new contacts to his list.
“What I’ve tried to do is to create a really unique, attention grabbing series of messages that drive people back to our website or encourage people to take another action. We’ve seen some great initial results and are really excited to do more with the tool.”
2. Have a clear goal in mind for each email
Rescued Pets Movement — Houston, Texas
Since opening their doors in November 2013, Rescued Pets Movement has helped more than 4,000 at-risk dogs and cats — all through the contributions and involvement of individual donors and volunteers.
With an email list of more than 2,900 supporters, donors, and volunteers — email marketing has played an important role in helping Rescued Pets Movement achieve its goals.
“Our email database has been a critical part of our communication strategy,” says Rescued Pets Movement founder, Laura Carlock. “Whether we’re announcing a fundraiser or just trying to get the word out about an upcoming event, we like being able to log in and send out a professional email to our entire list.”
Knowing the importance of her email audience, Laura is careful not to overwhelm contacts with too much information. Her emails are focused, provide a clear call to action, and let supporters know how their involvement will help Rescued Pets Movement.
“We get the best response when we are direct with people — telling them what we are doing, what we need, and how they can help.”
3. Collect email addresses in multiple places
River Rock Climbing — Roanoke, Virginia
When Jared Rigby first got started with River Rock Climbing, email marketing wasn’t something he considered a priority. But as the gym grew in popularity, Jared found that collecting email addresses allowed him to contact customers about everything from class information, registration deadlines, special offers, and surveys.
As a result, Jared has taken steps to make it easy for customers to join his email list both online and off.
“One of the first things we did was to start collecting email addresses through social media. But we also started collecting email addresses whenever someone would come in to the gym. Our last email we sent to just under 9,000 people.”
4. Create a loyal following by keeping people informed
Gallery Above Penn Square — Reading, Pennsylvania
As an event coordinator at a busy gallery, Anca Bala needs an easy way to let her audience know about upcoming musical performances, art classes, and community events. After getting started with email marketing, Anca realized email was a great way to get people excited about the gallery’s happenings and bring them back for repeat visits.
“When people come in, we always ask if they’d be interested in receiving emails about future events. It’s a really easy way to get people to sign up so we can stay in touch with them after an event is over.”
5. Don’t let your business fall off your customers’ radar
Backyard Tent Rental — Waltham, Massachusetts
As both a Constant Contact employee and customer, Jim Mariano understands the meaning of wearing multiple hats. But after sending a simple email to reengage his audience, Jim was reminded of the impact email can have on driving business and how important it is to stay top of mind with customers.
“It’s easy to let sending emails fall off your to-do list. But if you’re going weeks, or even months without reaching out to your audience you could be missing out on a ton of opportunities to do more business.”
6. Don’t talk to your customers like they’re all the same
Allegria Spa — Beaver Creek, Colorado
Christine Copertino, director of Allegria Spa, understands the benefit of adding a personal touch. By dividing her email contacts into different groups based on their personal preferences and behavior, she ensures that her email will be relevant and well received every time she sends out a new message.
“There’s a lot of seasonality to our business, so we’re talking to members who live locally and people who may have visited us during the ski season but don’t live nearby. We also have people on our list who have signed up for different services or may be interested in specific promotions.”
7. Think about emails from your subscribers’ perspective
Town of Enfield, Connecticut
As liason between the entire business community and the local government in Enfield, Connecticut, Courtney Hendricson’s goal is to keep everyone on the same page about community developments. To make sure her updates are read by as many people as possible, Courtney always tests email and considers what minor tweaks she can make to drive engagement.
“I’ll often just do a few lines of text, a big picture, and a link. I like to preview each message and ask myself: ‘Are they seeing what I want them to see at first glance?’ I also spend time thinking about the subject line and what will draw them in.”
8. Be strategic about where you spend your time
Rains Lucia Stern, PC — Pleasant Hill, California
Managing the marketing for seven different law offices requires Carrie Bonnet to understand which marketing efforts are effective and which are not worth her valuable time. By reaching out to clients regularly, asking them for feedback, and checking with her reports to see what’s performing well, Carrie is able to make important decisions about what her audience is interested in and what she should be focusing on.
“It’s great to have emails that are connected to events, which are connected to a survey, and then to look at the results. It eliminates the unknown and gives me more clarity and transparency in my approach…which also makes things a lot more exciting and motivating to keep doing it!”
9. Use email to develop trust
Buccini/Pollin Group — Wilmington, Delaware
As the marketing manager of a luxury residential community, Julia Mason believes in the importance of making her current residents feel right at home. That’s why, in addition to using email to connect with potential leads, she uses email to stay in close touch with her current community. By keeping her residents up-to-date, she’s inspiring trust and creating an environment that her residents will gladly recommend to others.
“It can be something small — maybe the garage doors aren’t going up or down — we try to send out an email right away letting our residents know that’s happening, and sometimes get an email right back saying thank you and that they appreciate it.”
10. Bring something entirely new to your market
David Griffin & Company Realtors — Dallas, Texas
When Brandon Stewart made the career switch from architecture to real estate, he knew he’d have to find a way to gain his clients’ trust. By focusing exclusively on modern homes and sending regular newsletters with engaging content, he is able to reach his target audience and stand out from competitors.
“Through my newsletters I’m able to bring something completely different to the real estate market,” he explains. “Most realtors only focus on sales numbers and how prices have decreased on increased throughout the year. I’m able to bring content with significance beyond just the numbers.”
What lessons have you learned in the past year?
These are just some of the many pieces of advice our customers have shared with us. If any of these ideas are new to you, consider choosing one to add to your approach in the New Year.
We want to hear from you: What are some of the lessons you’ve discovered in the past year? Share your advice in the comments!