Now is the perfect time to re-think how your small business markets through email.
Chances are you’re fully aware of the pervasiveness of mobile smartphones and tablets. You may be starting to think, “Can people easily read my website or emails on a mobile device?” or “Do I need to create an app?” And as a small business, you know mobility is going to affect how you market your business — but what’s next?
Thinking about developing mobile-friendly marketing can be bit overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it all at once. In fact, as a small business, it’s likely you don’t have the time or money. But email is not only an effective marketing channel — it’s also the easiest entry point into mobile, and it doesn’t take a lot of knowhow. I’m going to give you a personal example of this, but first some compelling statistics.
Let’s take this step-by-step:
- Small businesses are aware that the pervasiveness of smartphones is changing the world, and specifically, the way they do business. A 2013 MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Benchmark survey showed that 58 percent of marketers (both large and small businesses) cited the pervasiveness of mobile smartphones and tables as a “new development that will affect email marketing programs in the next 12 months.”
- Small businesses still believe in email, as they should. According to Constant Contact’s recent Pulse Survey, 83 percent of small businesses and 86 percent of nonprofits find email marketing to be effective for their organization today, outperforming all other forms of marketing.
Email as a marketing channel
Despite dire predictions, it’s very clear that email is not dead. Consumers are still signing up for email, as shown by statistics clearly demonstrating that email accounts are growing. In fact, according to the Radicati Group, the total number of worldwide email accounts is expected to increase from 3.3 billion accounts last year to over 4.3 billion accounts by 2016. At Constant Contact, we can certainly attest to the increasing volume of email interactions. In 2011, we sent 35 billion emails on behalf of our customers. In 2012, that number grew to 45 billion. Email is alive and well.
An example from one nonprofit
My conclusion from all of these compelling statistics is that a mobile strategy is necessary, and email is one of the easiest and fastest entry points for a small business. Case in point: Last week I was at a board meeting for a nonprofit arts organization that I’m very passionate about. Most of our meetings are about finances and fundraising, but on this day, it was all about mobile. Like most small nonprofits, we struggle with finding the marketing dollars to update our website, have member and donor information in four disparate databases (none of which speak to one another), and don’t have a mobile strategy. Our website is not optimized for mobile. We run a concert venue, but you can’t buy or redeem your tickets online (yet). And, our emails are long with lots of links. Now all of a sudden, having a mobile strategy and fixing these barriers are a key priority for our nonprofit.
Email as an entry point
As marketing committee chairman, it’s my job to advise this nonprofit on marketing. One board member said, “Hey, we need an app to buy tickets or make donations? Is that easy to create?” Another said, “Can we do something to our website to make it look good on my iPhone?” and so on. The answer to all these questions is yes, but it would take time and money. Something our small nonprofit — and lot of small businesses — just don’t have. But — and this is the point of this whole anecdote and a truism for most small businesses — the one thing that we can do quickly and easily is take a good hard look at our email strategy and turn it into a mobile email strategy. This is not only manageable but also saves time in the long run.
Evaluating your email effectiveness
I’d like to delve into this further, as I believe the nonprofit that I volunteer for is a typical example of the challenges a small business may also face. We send out a number of email campaigns. These include bi-weekly member and non-member concert updates, membership renewal campaigns, membership acquisition campaigns, fundraising appeals, thank yous and a lot more. These emails have a lot of images, links, calls to action, and content. It’s a lot to take in.
It takes time to gather all of these items and to create these emails. And once the emails are sent, it takes time to comb through the results to see what people clicked on. The emails look great on my iPhone but the numerous links are difficult to click. And on my friend’s Android phone, the images didn’t load. Even my friend who read it on his laptop only looked at the one video in the email and didn’t bother scrolling down the page because he got distracted and said he didn’t have time. You get my point. We’re putting a lot of effort into something that either our customers don’t have time to read or find difficult to read.
Solution for email clutter
There is a solution for this: Make your emails shorter. This kills two birds with one stone, as the proverbial saying goes. It’s a fix for that “shorter attention span” dilemma and also gets you one step closer to the first phase of mobile strategy: mobile-friendly emails. Whether users are reading emails on a desktop or laptop — or as is the case today — on their smartphones, we need to shorten content and simplify calls to action. The other problem it solves is that instead of creating some ambitious, expensive, time-consuming mobile marketing strategy, revamping your email only takes a few minutes. And by creating shorter emails — think of all the time you’ll save.
Let’s not forget about the engagement these shorter, mobile-friendly emails create. People will actually read and click, because they can, easily.
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