If you are a constant consumer of small business trends, you could be forgiven for thinking that email marketing is now a long departed old member of the digital marketing family.
When you consider all the gigabytes dedicated to the fashion plates of social media, big data, apps, behavioural targeting and the rest of the cutting edge digital marketing developments, poor old email marketing rarely gets a look in these days.
But surprising as it may seem, email marketing continues to deliver outstanding return on investment (ROI) compared to other direct marketing techniques.
What’s more, as a marketing technique, it’s far easier to understand, master and measure for most time-poor SME operators.
Get business news first
Sign up to SmartCompany’s daily newsletter
Various direct marketing industry surveys over recent years have had email marketing in the top one or two most cost-effective techniques available to them.
ROI has been reported to be anywhere from £21.48 per pound spent in the UK just last year to a whopping $57.25 per dollar spent in the US back in 2006.
The more recent UK results put only ‘organic’ search engine optimisation (the ‘free’ results returned when conducting a keyword search) as providing a better ROI amongst direct marketing techniques whilst others still rank it No 1 for ROI.
Low barriers to entry
One of the other great attractions of email marketing, particularly for SMEs, is the relative ease of planning, preparing, executing and measuring the success of an email marketing campaign.
At its most basic level, many SME marketers use an ordinary email ‘client’ like Outlook to broadcast their marketing messages.
But far more effective results can be achieved by using one of what is now a myriad of affordable email broadcast systems like Mail Chimp and Constant Contact. In addition to broadcasting to many thousands of recipients simultaneously, emails can he highly graphical, personalised and deliver a brilliant array of results statistics such as views, opens, forwards and many others.
Best of all is when your email marketing is integrated into the rest of your digital platform along with your Customer Relationship Management and Content Management System. Such integration means that all of your digital assets are contained within the one platform, eliminating the need for exporting and importing lists and allowing all customer interactions to be contained in the one record.
An easier stretch for SMEs
Email Broadcast also has the advantage of being far easier to grasp and master than many of the newer digital marketing techniques.
Because email marketing is pretty much a direct descendant of the old ‘mail out’, SME operators find it far easier to understand and adapt to compared to the more complex and less familiar range of digital marketing alternatives.
Content the hardest part
But whilst it may well be easy for SME operators to grasp the technology of email broadcasting, most report the actual creation of quality and ‘clickworthy’ content as being the most difficult challenge to overcome – particularly in the face of so much competition for attention from their customer.
Few business operators have either the time or skill to come up with the professional content required to attract the eye of their customer in an increasingly crowded Inbox and often require professional help to achieve the required results.
Then of course many SMEs may simply not have much to write about – particularly if their industry is relatively slow moving or is easy to understand or consume.
This situation demands much creativity to come up with content that is going to be of real use to the customer.
Another real advantage of email marketing is the ability to re-purpose the content for inclusion on the website and in turn its dissemination via social networking.
The ‘viral’ and search engine optimisation benefits of this website-email-social networking content ‘funnel’ provide significantly better results than either medium on its own.
So next time you are planning your marketing for the given period, it’s definitely worth giving email marketing some serious consideration.
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond. www.theeteam.com.au