Email marketing: A free marketing tool that you should be using
When it comes to marketing your small business, there are any number of different methods you can use. I've dealt with a lot of small business owners in a range of industries, and one thing I've consistently noticed is that many are reluctant to try email marketing, despite it being one of the most powerful and affordable ways to reach your clients. In this post, we're going to debunk some of the myths and objections surrounding email marketing so that can get you started!
Common objections to email marketing
Here are some common reasons given when business owners are asked why they don’t engage with email marketing:
I use Facebook so I don’t need to send out emails
Facebook has been around for a while now and those businesses that got on board in the early days were able to build a large audience – for free! Things have changed a lot since then. It’s becoming very hard to get the same number of eyes on your posts, and they’re pushing users towards their advertising platform (if they want to get the same reach they had before). ‘Boost Post’ anyone?! While Facebook advertising is a great tool if you have the knowledge to use it well, email marketing can be a lot cheaper if you have a good email list. It’s highly likely that one of your Facebook fans will miss your latest post, compared to an email sent directly to their inbox.
Interestingly, one of the things that helped Facebook get so big was email. In its first few years of explosive growth, Facebook kept people coming back to the site as they sent you an email notifications every time someone liked or tagged you. Remember that!?
I don’t want to annoy my clients with emails
The thought of irritating people while promoting your business is a common one, but if you’ve got a solid strategy, then you can avoid this. You do need to push your business in order to get more exposure, and this is an issue you need to work past in order to succeed as a business owner.
There may be people that don’t like the emails that you send, and that’s fine. They’re unlikely to be an ideal client for you anyway, so don’t take it personally when they unsubscribe. Just get on and focus on the ones who do want to hear what you have to say, and watch as they snap up your special deals.
I tried it once and it didn’t work
I hear this one a lot. People often send out an email to a very cold list (that is, to people who aren’t expecting an email from you) and expect instant results. Expecting someone to buy from you after just one email is unrealistic, and is definitely not a good reason to give up on email marketing. Think about it – would you buy from someone if they randomly emailed you about an offer? You may be hesitant, but after you had built rapport and a relationship with them, you may be more likely to make a purchase decision.
Your success can also depend on the size of your list (more peeps = more chances of purchase). Persistence is key here, you need to find a frequency that suits you. If people unsubscribe, they aren’t suited to your business.
Don’t all emails just to the Spam folder anyway?
Another common misconception. There will always be a small amount that do end up in the trash or spam folders. Your email service provider will show you the emails that ‘bounced’ and you should always take the time to check these out after you send an email. Sometimes the reason can be as simple as a typo in the email address – an easy fix! It’s really important if you are collecting email addresses from new clients to make sure you enter them correctly into your system.
I don’t have an email list, so I can’t send emails
There’s no better time to start building an email list than today! It is a daunting task, but baby steps will get you started.
A great place to start is by adding an email field to your registration form that new customers fill in. Make sure to let them know that you will email them with special offers. Once you’ve got this info, make sure you add them to your email marketing system. I recommend using Mailchimp for those of you who are just starting out.
It’s worth noting that email lists are one of the few digital marketing tools that have a long life. Most social networks come and go, but email has outlived them all and continues to hold value. It’s a wise investment.
BONUS: Timely has an integration with Mailchimp which means all client information automatically syncs to your email list. You can even email people based on their booking behaviour – a nice way to target your clients who you haven’t seen for a few months, or send out birthday offers (with many more options available!).
Why you should be using email marketing in your clinic or salon
Those on your email list are already qualified
Qualified means that they have already put their hand up and said “Yes, I’m interested in your business”. Whether this is because they have signed up at your clinic or they have signed up to receive your newsletter online, they have willingly put up their hand and said “send me updates”.
Compare this to print advertising in a newspaper – has anyone put their hand up to see that ad? Not at all. Will it get ignored? Very likely. And that’s before you consider the huge cost attached.
You’re building their loyalty to your business
It’s one thing to follow someone on Facebook, but it’s another to sign up for regular emails from a business. It’s a bigger commitment.
An email list is made of people who want to hear from you. The majority of them will have been to your clinic before and experienced your products and services firsthand. They are more likely to jump on a special deal as they already know the value it holds, and regular contact keeps you clinic at the front of their mind when they are thinking beauty or hair.
Using Mailchimp is virtually free! You can send up to 12,000 emails before there is a fee, and even then, there are many different payment options to suit you. There isn’t much of a learning curve either – after a bit of playing around you will be well-equipped to send out your first email!
It has real monetary value
There’s another attractive factor to consider here. If you have a solid client list and you have been emailing this list (with sales as a result), this is an asset. If you ever want to sell your clinic, your mailing list will have a real dollar value as part of that.
How to do email marketing well
While it’s easy enough to say that email marketing will increase your sales, it’s not quite that simple. Here are a few secrets to doing email marketing well:
Don’t let that email list get stale
Building and keeping your mailing list current is important. It’s not something you do for a short time and then forget about it. To build it, keep asking for those emails on their registration form. You can also use competitions to entice people to sign up to your list if it needs a boost.
To stop the list going cold, make sure you email frequently enough that the recipients don’t get a surprise when that email arrives in their inbox. Some businesses have been known to wait years before they send out their first email – imagine the surprise when people open an email and they can’t even remember who the business is. So stay in touch!
Make the reader feel special
If you’ve ever put a deal on Facebook only to hear crickets, this is either because not enough people are seeing the post or they just aren’t interested in that offer. Keep the special deals to your exclusive email list. This rewards your current clients for their loyalty to your business, and it also protects the value of your brand. We all know the damage that one day deals can do, but in all reality a deal on your Facebook page showing big discount does much the same thing. Keep those exclusive deals for those who will place the appropriate value on it and act accordingly – by booking in!
Make it quirky/different
Although the people on your email list are already familiar with your business, you still need to keep them interested and that is the greatest challenge of email marketing.
You can send as many sales-focused emails as you like, but it probably won’t achieve the results you hope for. Instead, try focusing on how you can bring your own individuality to the emails and add value to the reader. This might mean writing a regular column on different skin conditions, or discussing some new industry trends. Relate this back to your business, and there’s value for everyone.
Ideally your readers should be looking forward to your next email, rather than pushing delete before they even open it.
Put extra thought into that subject line
Your subject line has to have a hook. What is going to get that person on the other end of that email to open it? While it’s not a good idea to give a false statement here (which is called clickbait), the title needs to grab their attention somehow and make them want to open it.
Make it a long-term strategy
Like any good plan or strategy in business, email marketing has to be a long-term game. Look after your email list and send regular emails on a frequency that you feel comfortable with – there is no rule here, just experiment and you will find your comfort zone. Whether that’s once a week or a once a month, it’s up to you.
If you have any exciting news (like winning an industry award), being timely is everything. Getting the news out to your clients by email is quick and easy, and you never know what might come from it. The same goes for any industry news or perhaps a new brand that you’re stocking – change is interesting!
One thing I know for sure is that salon and clinic owners are busy people! And sometimes you might not have the time to try a new marketing channel. This may be especially true if you are putting a lot of effort into Facebook. But sometimes it’s good to take a step back and weigh up which is more effective and better value for money. As a marketer myself, I would highly recommend the use of email marketing if you want to build loyalty, drive sales and make the best use of your marketing dollar. Happy emailing!