Growing Your Business Through Marketing

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1 Growing Your Business Through Marketing marketing can be a cost-effective way to acquire new customers, and to enhance relationships with your current customers. Done correctly, marketing can help you build trust the foundation of all successful business relationships. offers a number of benefits over many other marketing methods: Low cost. Unlike traditional marketing, there are no printing, mailing or media expenses making much less costly than direct mail, print advertising or telemarketing. Proactivity. delivers your message directly to customers or the prospects who have asked to receive your messages and offers. You don t have to wait for someone to visit your website or find your ad. Relationship-building. lets you communicate the value of your offerings, demonstrate your successes and build your position as an authority. Recipients can respond immediately by replying, visiting your site or calling. Targetability. You can send different messages to different types of customers or prospects, including tailoring messages to specific individuals. Flexibility. Real-time results let you see who is responding to what parts of your message, so that you can revise your message as needed. marketing can build long-lasting relationships with your customers that can help grow your business over time. When considering the full impact this type of communication can have, it is helpful to think in terms of moving your prospects and customers through three stages.

2 Growing Your Business Through Marketing 1. Make a Connection Permission campaigns are ten times more effective than direct mail campaigns. - IMT Strategies When a prospective customer visits your website, walks in your door or calls, the first step toward establishing a relationship is getting their contact information. At a minimum, you should collect a person s name and address, so that you can add them to your contact list. In general, this is all that many websites request, since the more information you ask for, the fewer people will provide it. For more targeted communications, you can let site visitors specify the type of information they d like to receive from you. If you are collecting contact information in person or over the phone, ask for their street address, phone number, company name and title. For example, a retail store can provide a form at checkout; if you meet prospects at trade shows or other events, you can simply collect business cards. Whatever you do, be sure to get the person s permission to send marketing communications. Explicit permission means that the individual has signed up with the clear expectation of receiving your . Implicit permission may come when you have an existing business relationship with the individual. Sending marketing when no prior relationship exists and no permission is granted is known as spam, and there are strict regulations in place that prohibit you from including such addresses in your campaign. Tip: Offer something in return for contact information, such as valuable content like a white paper, or a discount (e.g., Receive 20% off your next purchase ). This will motivate respondents to provide valid addresses. page 2

3 Growing Your Business Through Marketing The Right for the Job marketing can take a variety of forms. The right format for you depends on the type of information you want to communicate, your objective for that communication and its intended audience. For example, a retailer might send out bi-weekly or monthly promotional s alerting customers to sales or new products. An accountant, on the other hand, might focus on a more educational monthly e-newsletter that covers news and insights related to taxes or financial planning (see sidebar on page 4). Here are the common types of communications and their suggested uses. Type Newsletter (educational) Possible Frequency Monthly/Quarterly Best for... Demonstrating expertise Enhancing awareness Possible Call to Action Read full article Learn more about... Newsletter (mixed educational/ promotional) Monthly/Quarterly Building trust with current customers Boosting sales Driving site traffic Forward to a friend/colleague Learn more about... Promotional Message Bi-weekly/Monthly Motivating purchases Driving traffic (online and offline) Complementing advertising programs Click here to buy Print out this and bring it to our store Event Invitation Announcement Event-based (multiple communications) Event-based (single communication) Building event attendance Multiple communications: save the date, sign up, reminder to attend Alerting audience to news One-shot communications: press release, product launch, new appointment Survey Event-based Gaining insight into customer needs and motivation Targeting future communications based on interests Register now and save Save the date Registration almost full - 10 seats left so register today me for more information about... Learn more about... Complete the survey... Sign up to receive the results page 3

4 Growing Your Business Through Marketing from page 2 2. Nurture the Relationship The cost of acquiring a new customer can be as much as five times the cost of keeping an old one. - Peppers and Rogers A successful marketing program is built on understanding customer needs and communicating relevant and valuable information. is uniquely useful as a way to educate customers and prospects on an ongoing basis and enhance relationships in order to build your business. Your program should support your overall marketing objectives. For example, you might be trying to enhance awareness of your company among prospects, or to motivate customers to buy more from you. Retail businesses might focus on making immediate sales, while service businesses might focus on demonstrating expertise in order to nurture prospects. These objectives will drive the formats of your s (see sidebar on page 3), and let you assess the effectiveness of your communications. Tip: Develop a communications calendar to map out your strategy and provide a visual overview of your communications over the course of the year (see worksheet). For example, you might send an newsletter every month, put out alerts during your busiest season, and drop one-off news announcements when appropriate. Get Your Opened An marketing campaign can only succeed if people actually read your messages. How do you get your s opened? Start with these basic practices: From line: The first thing a person wants to know is who an is from. Make your from address work for you by using your name, company, product or service name whatever the recipient is most likely to recognize. Avoid generic addresses such as or Your goal is to build familiarity and credibility that assures the recipient that the comes from a reliable and trusted source. Also, make sure your reply-to address works, and you are ready to handle any possible replies. Subject line: Once the recipient knows who an is from, the next question is Do I care? Your subject line needs to be descriptive and engaging to encourage people to open your and read your content. Avoid generic descriptions such as Monthly Newsletter in favor of vivid titles such as 5 Tips to Reduce Your Taxes. Wonder what works? Look at your own inbox. Which subject lines get your attention and which look like spam? Frequency and timing: When delivery of your is predictable and consistent, recipients will look forward to your messages on a certain day or at a certain time. Test alternatives and monitor subscriber feedback to come up with the timing that works for your audience. Then stick to it. Keep in mind that communicating too infrequently is as bad as communicating too often your goal should be to keep your name top of mind without being intrusive. Design: Is your clear, uncluttered and easy to read? Is the most important information easy to find? Does it reflect the style of your business? Remember, many people use their program s preview pane, which may not display your images or layout. Those readers may make their read or delete decision from the first few lines they see, so make them count. Use strong and provocative headlines so search engine skimmers can quickly take in your content. It is important to let recipients view your newsletter as a web page, through a conspicuous link. page 4

5 Growing Your Business Through Marketing 3. Build Trust A 5% increase in retention yields profit increases of 25% to 100%. - Bain and Co. s ultimate strength rests in its ability to engender trust with your customers. Targeted, interesting content not only gets the attention of your audience, but can encourage customers to become your advocates. After all, there is no better way to acquire new customers than by having current customers spread the word on your behalf. The key to avoiding the recycle bin is to provide customers with the information that benefits them most. For example, a landscaping company might send s alerting customers to an upcoming sale. This may generate some one-off business, but it does not necessarily create a long-term relationship. If, however, the landscaping company sent monthly tips about kid-friendly plants, how to keep deer away, when to plant bulbs and other helpful topics each accompanied by a short promotion for the plants highlighted that month customers might begin to see the company as an expert and a trusted partner, not just someone interested in meeting sales goals. Choosing an Vendor Many businesses use third-party vendors (such as Constant Contact) to host and manage their marketing campaigns. Here are some of the services an vendor can provide: Design templates: If you don t want to design your own newsletter and code it in HTML a template-based system that sets up the format, graphics and layout for you can dramatically simplify development. Look for a provider that has a robust library of professional-looking templates. Campaign management: If you plan to send a large number of s on a regular basis, an vendor can help you stick to your schedule and avoid mistakes. List management: Your marketing vendor can help you build, manage and secure your marketing contacts, and make sure you comply with anti-spam regulations. Reporting: Tracking your campaign results can help you determine which s are most effective, as well as the optimal timing and frequency of your campaign. Your marketing vendor should provide you with real-time, detailed reports to help you see who has been clicking on which parts of your s. Support: vendors can also educate you on the best practices for marketing by providing easy access to consultants, tutorials and tech support. Some may even offer live or online classes or webinars for their clients at no additional charge. To learn more about Constant Contact, visit Tip: Find it hard to come up with interesting content for your newsletter every month? Interview your best customers you may be amazed at their expertise, and how happy they are to be profiled. page 5

6 Worksheet 1: Prepare Your Strategy: Develop an Effective Marketing Campaign This worksheet will help you get started planning your marketing strategy and messages. Create a Calendar To make your marketing strategy most effective, it is a good idea to develop a calendar to coordinate the communications you plan to send out over the course of the year. Here is an example of a communications calendar. Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Events - save the date - sign up - reminder Announcements - product launch - personnel Newsletter Use this blank calendar to plan your communications strategy. Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Events - save the date - sign up - reminder Announcements - product launch - personnel Newsletter Other page 6

7 Worksheet 2: Prepare Your Pitch: Get Ready to Engage Your Reader Develop an Action-Oriented Subject Line An engaging subject line will encourage people to open your and read your content. Consider these two examples: From Subject A. Forever Green Landscaping Monthly newsletter, issue 14 B. Forever Green Landscaping Five Steps to Beat the Heat A. Michael Katz, CPA enewsletter B. Michael Katz, CPA Tips to Reduce Your Taxes Now In both examples, B is the more engaging subject line because it is action-oriented. As you re considering your first (or next) campaign, write three potential subject lines and run them past a few of your customers and colleagues to get their feedback: You can also evaluate them against these criteria: Keep it brief - ideally six words or less and under 50 characters (including spaces). Make it actionable and accurately reflect the message s major content. Don t falsify the subject line - using RE or FW deceptively can put your message out of legal compliance. page 7

8 Worksheet 3: Prepare Your Content: Review Ideas for Your Newsletter Create Content Ideas If you put out a monthly newsletter with three different articles, you will have to come up with nearly 40 articles each year. Here, you can identify potential topics for articles or interesting tidbits of information you can include in your communications. What are the top questions your customers ask you? What articles have you read recently that you find interesting? Do you have any customers who have used your product or service in an interesting way? Are there any quotes or success stories you can share with a wider audience? (You can also use your outgoing messages to ask for these stories or quotes for use in your future marketing. Be sure to get permission from these customers before you use their story in any marketing campaign.) What problems do you forsee your customers encountering this year? What will you do to solve these problems? What information would your customers value that would also help them view you as an expert? Now that you ve identified some possible sources of content, check them against these guidelines to determine which might be most compelling to your audience. Does the content provide valuable information they can t get anywhere else? Is it a topic on which readers look to you for advice? Is it interesting or unexpected? Does it complement your brand and reputation? Does it lead them to want to learn more? page 8

9 Worksheet 4: Prepare Your Next Step: Connect With Your Reader Include a Compelling Call to Action Each section of your communication should lead to a desired result ( Buy Now, Learn More, etc.). Whether the content is educational, promotional or informational, an campaign should include a next step for the reader. Consider these examples: Type of Communication Desired Result Call to Action Newsletter Click here Read the full article Promotion Come to store Print out this coupon and save $10 Event Register now Register now and save $100 Any Pass it on this article/offer/invitation to a friend Using the subject lines you created earlier, think about the type of content you will be including in your marketing s and what result you are looking for from recipients. Use this worksheet to help you craft compelling calls to action that will complement your content and your subject line. content Desired Result Call to Action If your call to action is a link to more information, make sure the user s experience when they arrive delivers on its promise and that the page is consistent with the page they are coming from. If you have several different calls to action in an , make sure you monitor which ones result in higher click-throughs, so you can learn more about how to move your customers to action. To learn more about our products and services, call NOW-OPEN or visit us at For more information about Constant Contact, visit Copyright American Express Company. All Rights Reserved. The information contained in this document is meant for advisory purposes only. American Express accepts no liability for any outcome of its use. page 9

10 Notes For more OPEN Roadmaps and other business resources, visit For more information about Constant Contact, visit

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