Is Email Marketing an Escape From the Economic Downturn?

So despite the promised upturn of the economy, the recession has landed many smaller business leaders in a classic ‘Catch 22’ situation. Cutting marketing spend is used as a means to tighten budgets, yet survival through tough financial times depends on generating new business via techniques such as online marketing.

Hmm tricky, smaller business marketers are left with a dilemma: How is it possible to raise that vital brand awareness on an increasingly smaller budget?

Enter email marketing on its white horse. It provides a much cheaper alternative to other marketing channels and continues to deliver the highest return on investment – an average email returns around £20 for each £1 spent.

Email marketing is less time consuming than direct mail campaigns and provides a higher level of reporting than direct mail, telephone calls and advertising combined.

Basically the enforced budget cuts of this recession are actually helping marketers realise the full merits of email marketing. Great!

Online clothing retailer Kew Online increased sales through the use of promotional codes in an email marketing campaign that was adapted to customer demands throughout the year. Their online customer service manager said…

“We find that special deals such as offering customers free delivery the following week are really effective in boosting sales.

“The technology we use is fantastic as it enables us to track precisely how many ‘click throughs’ each individual item is receiving, helping us to gauge popularity and trends.”

Although it is now relatively simple to put together an email marketing campaign, access to a decent database of potential customers is absolutely critical to get it off the ground. You can of course buy prospects’ details from list brokers, although check out the supplier thoroughly first. These campaigns work best in conjunction with another marketing channel – for example, if an email is sent prior to a telemarketing call, the success rate can increase by up to 70% (according to the DMA).

You can also take simple steps to develop your own database by capturing email addresses at your various ‘touch points’ (I’d rate this method but bear in mind it’s a longer term solution). You’ll have to think about providing incentives for signing up to marketing material such as newsletters (offering free whitepapers or guides is a nice touch), but you won’t have to break the bank to generate lots of email addresses through these channels.

Small businesses should be taking advantage of email marketing as it provides a cost-effective and time-efficient way to communicate with existing and prospective customers; it can also result in high returns of investment, not to mention the environmental benefits it has over direct mailings, which are heavy on resources such as paper.