I love email marketing and here’s why I think you should, too!
For Lansing small businesses, organizations and political candidates email marketing needs to be a part of any digital marketing effort. Here are a several reasons why:
Cost – Email marketing can be done free with a free Mailchimp account (up to a certain threshold: 2,000 contacts/12,000 emails per month) for a fraction of the cost of postage, which you never know if somebody reads or whether it goes straight to the trash. An email marketing campaign can give stats on whether an email was opened, did a recipient click a link, make a donation or engage with the content of your email in some meaningful way or not. You can see what you’re getting for your spend immediately.
Ease of Use – With tools like Mailchimp or ConstantContact you can easily create and manage email lists and send emails from these tools to your audience/list. Many of these tools come with pre-made forms that you can use on your own website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other places to capture email addresses. Additionally, you’re capturing emails every time somebody contacts you via your website or by other means, why not capture their email address and communicate with them directly?
Reach – Email marketing gives you a direct one-to-one connection to your audience. Whereas with Facebook, you have to boost posts ($) or hope a “Friend” or somebody who “Likes” your page sees it when Facebook’s algorithm happens to show it; not so with email marketing – You’re contacting them directly. Also, everybody has an email address, some folks may check them more than others, but that direct connection is still there. Also, while folks can “share” on Facebook, a shared email from a friend or colleague is a much more trusted and relevant exchange.
Ownership – With a well-executed email marketing plan, you own your list; it’s proprietary. You’re not renting placement in Facebook, a local publication or a highway billboard, nor are you renting a direct mail list of questionable efficacy from a list broker for a single election cycle. Your list is your own.
Email marketing doesn’t get a lot of hype because there’s no quick shortcut to building a good list, it takes diligence and time. You can’t buy an email list of any value, because emails are personal, more personal than our postal addresses, more personal than “Friends” you don’t know, whose requests you accepted on Facebook. In many ways, they’re as intimate as your mobile phone number. You don’t just give it out to anybody.
And that last bit is what really makes email marketing important: When somebody has given you their email address, a social contract has been entered into. You agree to not abuse the privilege and send them relevant information and they agree to let you; when marketing and trying spread the word, that entry point of willingness is the most we can ask for. There’s no hucksterism or one-time sale, there’s just earnest relationship building, digitally or otherwise.
For me, the real strength of email marketing is when you send an email, even if it’s only to a couple dozen people that asks one thing, what’s known as a CTA or Call to Action. Let’s say you have a few lines of text, maybe a picture and a big button that says: DONATE – That email was literally zero cost to send, it took an hour or less to set up to send to email addresses you already had, folks who granted you permission to contact them and the recipient is guaranteed to receive it, maybe not open it, but they will get it. If you get a single $50-100 donation, let alone numerous micro-donations at $5-10, you’ve received many times the return on your investment. And this scales, the more emails, the more donations. We saw how this could work with Howard Dean’s campaign and then Barack Obama’s campaigns, but I was using email with music and the arts years before that.
Email marketing is powerful. I believe in it deeply. I’m an evangelist for it, but it’s like a bountiful garden, it takes time and attention to cultivate.