A study by email marketing leader Elite Email asked 200 small business owners how they are using email marketing as part of their overall marketing mix. The results showed a variety of uses that helped to increase sales, build awareness and strengthen brand loyalty. In addition, the content strategy for social network postings was largely fueled by the subject matter of their small business email marketing campaigns.
The most popular use of email marketing, as indicated by 82% of respondents, is to drive immediate sales either online or offline. Many small business owners reported they can successfully increase sales by putting a buy now button in their email broadcast linking directly to the product page on their website. Offline businesses owners also reported a sales lift when items are featured in an email, as, they say, consumers arrive at a store ready to buy the item featured in their inbox.
The second most popular and best email marketing use is to help build a stronger relationship with customers through increased brand awareness. Not surprisingly, 73% of small business owners reported that their customers can choose between many vendors for the service they provide. The more these small business owners can keep their brand in front of the consumer, the more likely they are to earn repeat business in the future. By sending a monthly email newsletter, small businesses help ensure that the customer does not forget the product, service and experience that business offers. Big businesses have always been focused on brand building exercises, says Robert Burko, CEO of Elite Email. With email marketing, small businesses can also play in that game and strengthen their brands more than ever before.
Small business owners reported that the third most popular use of email marketing software is to run promotions or distribute coupons. Many of the respondents in the survey said they were opposed to using daily deal type websites because they have to pay out a commission on already discounted items. Instead, they preferred to use their email marketing mailing list to issue their own exclusive email coupons to be redeemed online (often with a promotion entered in the online shopping card) or printed and redeemed in store.
The fourth most popular use, as indicated by 56% of respondents, is to use email as the focus for a business social network postings on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Many small business owners said one of the biggest challenges with social media is figuring out what to post and share. But, by creating email marketing campaigns, they generated several good posts, which also helped their email content to go more viral on the social networks.
The fifth most popular email marketing use, reported by 48% of participants in the study, is to promote new products to customers. Often times this involves building hype and anticipation for a product that was only being released soon. By building excitement for their new product, these business owners were able to experience a significant spike in sales as soon as the product was released.
Small business owners highlighted many other uses of email marketing software, since the marketing vehicle is so flexible it can really be customized to meet the unique needs of any individual business. For instance, businesses selling a product that had to be replaced or replenished after a certain amount of time has had great success sending out automated reminder messages. Although email marketing can be used in a variety of ways, the top five uses seem to be consistent across the majority of small businesses.