A lot of small business owners make the mistake of thinking that email marketing is primarily a device to attract new customers.
Although email marketing does a great job bringing new customers to your business, it is equally adept at strengthening relationships with your current customer base.
As a small business owner, you know that it's easier to sell to your current customers than it is to sell to new customers. So when you target your email marketing efforts toward existing customers, you aren't only maintaining relationships – you're generating sales.
Here are a few tips on how to use email marketing to build strong customer relationships.
- Collect Emails. Permission-based email addresses are the cornerstone of an effective email marketing strategy. The more customer email addresses you can collect, the more success you will have in building customer loyalty and generating sales from your base. So right out of the gate, your goal should be to collect email addresses from as many customers as possible, even if you have to offer modest incentives to get them.
- Communicate Benefits. To be effective, email marketing campaigns have to communicate benefits to customers. If your emails simply remind customers that you're still in business – don't bother. Instead, your email marketing strategy should focus on offering your customers something of value and invite them to make a quick response.
- Inform Customers About Sales or New Products. One of the ways you can use email marketing to communicate a benefit to your customers is to promote sales and discounts, or to let them know about a new line of products. Many retailers opt to combine the two by sending existing customers a discount offer that coincides with a product rollout. Existing customers feel like they are receiving preferential treatment and express their appreciation by purchasing your products.
- Inform Customers About Industry Trends & Developments. Depending on your industry, it may be appropriate to create an email marketing campaign that informs customers about relevant industry trends. For example, a landscaping company could use email marketing to communicate trends in lawn care to their customers. Because the email communicates something of value to the customer, he will be more likely to read it and respond by either purchasing lawn services or learning more about the company's products.
- Send Appointment Reminders. For some business models, another effective use of email marketing is to send appointment or service reminders to existing customers. Dentists, auto service technicians, hair stylists, even dog groomers – any business that provides a periodic service can employ email marketing to remind their clients that it's time make their next appointment.