Skip anything BUT Email Marketing

Whether you are just starting out or already have a dedicated customer base, email marketing can be a powerful tool to build your brand and encourage customer retention.

Email can be easy to overlook in favour of social media, but if you ignore the inbox you could be missing out on one of the best channels to engage with your target audience.

Let’s take a look at the numbers:

  • 99% of consumers check their email every day
  • 59% of respondents say marketing emails influence their purchase decisions.
  • >59% of marketers say email is their biggest source of ROI.
  • 78% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the last 12 months

Source: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/email-marketing-stats

Pretty impressive! And it makes sense – if someone is subscribed to your newsletter, they are either an existing customer or have expressed interest in your product. 

Compared with paying to advertise to a group of people who may or may not care about your business, with email marketing you are talking directly to someone who has told you they care about what you have to say.

Email marketing should function as a tool to maintain that relationship with your audience by keeping your communication consistent and valuable. This means reaching out consistently with information that people actually care about.

So what is the best way to start marketing through email?

Most email clients (Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook etc.) offer some form of mail merge, which will allow you to email, multiple people, at the same time. 

However, these platforms have limited functionality and if you are serious about scaling your business we recommend using Mailchimp for your email marketing unless you are looking at an all-in-one system like Hubspot. If you are looking into that kind of set up check out our blog on Hubspot here. 

Mailchimp is a dedicated email marketing system which will allow you to create mailing lists (so you can send some email to existing customers vs. prospective customers for example), create professional newsletters, automate your email campaigns (set it and forget it), and integration with your e-commerce platform.

It also offers templates for all kinds of email communications, as well as signup forms you can drop on your website to collect new email addresses for your database.

Mailchimp also tracks what happens with your emails (e.g. which emails were opened, which ones went straight into the trash) and provides you with analytics to help you make more informed communications choices. It can be a powerful source of sales leads.

Most importantly, Mailchimp is affordable for small businesses and those just getting started.

Important tips:

  • You should have an existing relationship with anyone in your database (in other words, they should have “opted-in” to your emails), otherwise, it is probably not legal for you to be mass emailing them
  • Resist the temptation to pay for databases of contact information online – these are unlikely to convert to sales and may be a violation of the terms of service of your email provider
  • Take time to familiarize yourself with the features and look for articles online to walk you through the most commonly used features.

While we’re on the topic of email, don’t overlook one of the easiest ways to look professional while maximising free advertising… setting up an email signature!

Where to start with Websites

We typically recommend that every business, no matter how new or how small, set up a website.

At a minimum, a website helps you drive sales by establishing credibility as a professional operation and providing basic information about the services/products you offer.

It can also serve as a hub for original content that establishes you and your business as an expert in your industry, host customer testimonials, and process sales directly (e-commerce) among dozens of other functions.

Building a website can seem daunting, especially for business owners who have neither the budget nor technical expertise to build a custom website from scratch. This is where a website builder or a  CMS can save the day!

What is a CMS?

A CMS, or content management system, is software that allows users without programming knowledge to create, edit, and publish web content, such as text or multimedia elements, collectively via a graphical user interface.

In other words, a CMS takes care of the grunt work of getting your website set up and lets you focus on populating your site with great content. 

What is a website builder?

Website builders are often even simpler than CMSs, although they typically offer less functionality. These sites are often drag-and-drop and a great option if you just want to get up a barebones page with your basic information.

Both website builders and CMSs are popular solutions for many small businesses, and there are options to suit every budget and level of comfort with programming.

We thought it might be helpful to walk through some of the pros and cons of the best website builders and CMSs for small businesses:

CMS/

Website Builder

Pros Cons
WordPress

(CMS)

 

We recommend this one.

  • Massive popularity means there are tons of online resources (guides, forum posts etc.)
  • Started out as a blogging platform and still one of the best for blogs
  • One of the best options for services businesses
  • 50,000 extensions available = tons of flexibility on what the site can do
  • Many free design templates with options for customization
  • “Five-minute installation” wizard
  • Search engine friendly URLs
  • Publishing tools for mobile
  • Endless possible extensions, templates, and customization mean the learning curve can be rough
  • No dedicated support team; only online guides and a forum
  • You must install an eCommerce plugin if creating an online store – if this is your site’s primary function, Shopify might be a better option
Joomla

(CMS)

  • Great for hosting blogs and services businesses
  • Around 8,000 extensions available
  • Some Search Engine Optimization (SEO) support
  • Open-source platform
  • Community support through forums
  • Slightly more complex than WordPress
Shopify

(CMS) We recommend this one if you are looking at doing an online store.

  • Dedicated to e-commerce, so excellent functionality for online stores
  • Pretty flexible on design
  • Excellent tutorials available so you can learn quickly
  • If you’re a services business or have no interest in selling online, this is not a good fit
  • Blogging comes secondary, if you are primarily interested in creating content and selling a few things on the side this is not your best bet
Drupal

(CMF)

  • Open-source
  • Slim basic installation with more than 36,000 extension modules
  • Focus on social publishing and community projects
  • More than 1100 distributions as a complete solution for typical applications
  • Very flexible, modular layout
  • Very Old School!
  • Steep learning curve
  • Best for those with some knowledge of web development
Squarespace

(CMS/Website Builder)

  • Great pre-packaged design options
  • Easy to set up, no coding skills needed at all: drag-and-drop
  • Previews changes as you make them
  • More difficult to use than other website builders, such as Wix
  • Doesn’t have all the functionality of other CMSs
Wix

(Website Builder)

  • Consistently voted one of the easiest to use website builders
  • Aimed at non-technical users
  • Limited access to more complex features
  • Users have less control overall, it is more difficult to customize templates
  • Doesn’t have all the functionality of a CMS

For reference, here is a breakdown of the market share of the 10 most popular CMSs:

Wordpress

WordPress by a landslide! (We host our site on WordPress as well).

At the end of the day, the best CMS or website builder for your business depends on your unique needs and what you hope the website will do. We recommend that you take some time to explore the options and choose which one is best for you.

Once you’ve got your site up and running, check out our article on Cascading Content to learn how to populate it with content and drive traffic.

Cascading Content.

 

Efficient Digital Marketing Strategy

We know from the Four C’s of Marketing that your messaging should be consistent, coherent, complementary, and demonstrate continuity. 

If you aren’t familiar with the Four C’s or are just getting started with building your marketing strategy, we strongly recommend that you get started with this article.

We know from our examples that this means your customers are seeing messages which reinforce each other across your different channels. But where does this messaging come from?

Enter Cascading Content, a strategy to share relevant information with your target audience and keep them engaged. 

Let’s break this down:

 

  • Relevant information is content that is interesting, informative, entertaining, or otherwise brings value to your audience.
  • Target audience is a group of people that you know are interested in your business, industry, or area of expertise.
  • Engaged means actively reading, commenting on, or sharing your content.

 

 

Why is Cascading Content important?

Most people are facing information overload, especially from online advertisements. 

What we want to avoid is gaining subscribers who forget about your company after clicking “follow” or, worse, are so annoyed by your posts that they unsubscribe. 

To gain (and keep!) subscribers, it’s important to demonstrate that you have something to offer. Cascading Content moves beyond just sharing essential business information (e.g. hours of operation, sales, services offered) to 

Treat each new member of your audience as someone whose trust you need to actively nurture and whose support should be rewarded – just like you would treat a customer in person.

How does Cascading Content actually work?

 

  • Pick a topic and a medium: this should be a topic which is relevant to your business/audience and (most importantly!) something you know about. Choose a medium (article, video, presentation etc.) you’re comfortable with and get creating!*
  • Upload your content: if you have a website, create a new page and add your content. You could do this by adding a blog, for example, making sure you have at least 4 key points in your piece of content. If you don’t have your own website, you could upload the content directly onto your page on a third-party hosting site like Facebook, LinkedIn, or YouTube.
  • Share: this is where the Cascading happens! Using key parts of the content you have previously prepared, re-publish those key points in a different channel. You can even add extra info to support the message. For example, we could now make a post on cascading content, with a link to this blog!

Cascading content

It’s often a good idea to create a compelling image to accompany the link to your content to grab attention –we recommend using Canva. For more information on how to design images for social media and whether you might need to spring for the premium version.

The Four C’s of Marketing

Knowing where to start with your marketing can be tough – there are so many options out there.  By implementing an integrated marketing strategy you can combine multiple marketing channels to communicate one powerful message to your end client.

When you’re looking at how to create a fully integrated marketing strategy, you can sum this up with the four C’s.

We’re going to use an example of an end client ‘Joe’ who is interacting with your business on Instagram and also on your email database to demonstrate how the four C’s work.

The Four C’s

1. Consistency

You need to pick your primary message and continually reinforce it.

One of the easiest ways to ensure you’re doing this know your brand and what your regular messaging, design, and calls to action are.  This is key to your end client getting to know who you are and keeping you front of mind.

Take Joe:

If you have a consistent brand design, Joe will eventually know that it is an Instagram post by you before he even realises that it’s you that has posted it.  He will begin to recognise you in the marketplace.

2. Coherence

Your messaging needs to meaningfully connect across every medium you’re using.

It’s vital that your messaging makes sense no matter how your clients are accessing it.

Take Joe:

Joe is interacting with you on Instagram and also receiving your email newsletter, you need to make sure that he is receiving the same message through each channel and that you’re not confusing him.

3. Complementary

Your messaging through one channel should enhance your messaging through another channel.  If you get this right, you have a strong message!

Take Joe:

Joe saw your Instagram post advertising your long weekend sale.  Joe then received your email newsletter with an additional 10% off coupon for newsletter subscribers in the long weekend sale.  These channels have complimented each other and solidified in Joe’s mind that he should make a purchase in your long weekend sale.

4. Continuity

Your messaging should be connected through time.

You will confuse your end client if you are constantly jumping from one message to the next.  Your content doesn’t need to repeat from one medium to the next, but it should always build on your messaging.

Take Joe:

If you’re selling food products and posting delicious food pictures on Instagram that Joe is seeing, then in your email newsletter you’re talking about a long weekend sale for Umbrella’s, your messages are not connected.

 

By using the 4 C’s of marketing as the cornerstone for your marketing strategy, you can ensure that your messaging is strong.  The upside of this is that all channels are all working together to convert followers into clients. When your messaging is strong, people start paying attention to what it is you have to say. And if they’re paying attention to you, the world is your oyster!