Email marketing remains essential for small businesses

Email marketing remains essential for small businesses

Small businesses are well acquainted with the need to make sure their marketing efforts are reaching their intended audiences. Without the vast financial resources and large customer bases of corporations, highly effective targeting and exceptional return on investment are essential for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

Email marketing offers benefits of precisely this kind, and its popularity hasn't diminished among SMB marketing teams. The Small and Midsize Business Email Marketing Survey 2013 by iContact revealed that email marketing lists are a vital tool for smaller firms.

Confidence in email marketing remains strong among SMBs, the study found. The overwhelming majority – 78 percent – of respondents said they felt positive about what email could achieve, while 32 percent expressed high confidence in the marketing channel.

Email is the primary tool for SMBs when it comes to sharing information. According to the study, 92 percent of firms go to email as their preferred channel for showcasing product releases, while 90 percent use the platform to make announcements about important changes, events and developments within their companies.

Furthermore, SMBs aren't planning to halt or slow down their email marketing efforts. The iContact study discovered that 56 percent of small firms planned to increase the monetary and other resources they devote to sending promotional email campaigns this year.

Connecting email and social media
Many SMBs are opting for a multi-channel approach to digital marketing. Social media is the most popular platform with which marketers are integrating their email campaigns, with 64 percent linking their messages to sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Social media isn't effective exclusively among business to consumer (B2C) firms, either. Business to business (B2B) companies can use social platforms in combination with email to more fully engage the contacts on their business email lists

In a post for BtoB Magazine, Pedowitz Group Associate Revenue Engineer Caitlin Culbert highlighted the various ways in which B2B firms can employ social networking to their advantage. One of the channel's primary benefits is its ability to increase the reach of small business marketing emails and content.

"People share your emails, so your brand gets more exposure and becomes more well-known, which then creates a higher likelihood for email opens, clicks and conversions," Culbert wrote.

Social sites are also an excellent way for small firms to connect with potential customers in the business sphere and create a network of contacts, Culbert noted. As such, she recommended B2B marketers make sure they include links to company social media pages in their email templates, so that recipients will be able to easily find the business and see what it's up to.

Optimizing email sends
Near-perfect optimization is key for SMB marketers, and while there's no universally applicable set of principles for when and how to send emails most effectively, knowing the habits of your customer base will help you create the right strategy.

Nevertheless, statistics suggest that if you're going to place your bets on the best time of day for email sends, your money should be on mid-afternoon. A study by MailChimp showed that most email opens occur between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

In terms of what days of the week to send marketing emails, Box Free IT recently suggested that this decision for SMBs largely depends on their customer base.

"If you're a B2C marketer, your email sweet spot might be the evenings or weekends, when your email recipients won't be distracted by work emails. B2B marketers, on the other hand, want to avoid nights and weekends like the plague," the source wrote.

Meanwhile, the old adage "less is more" remains highly relevant to email send frequency. The iContact study found that only 6 percent of SMBs email their entire lists everyday, but a more substantial 24 percent email certain list segments more than once a week.

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