Hoagland-Smith: Marketing through email should yield sales leads
By Leanne Hoagland-Smith April 15, 2012 8:48AM
Leanne Hoagland-Smith. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media
Did you know that small businesses with zero employees (non-employed) represented more than 21 million firms in 2009 with nearly $838 billion in receipts? In 2009, these sole proprietorships accounted for nearly 78 percent of all U.S. businesses estimated to be near 26 million.
Maybe this is why so many small businesses have begun to rely more on email marketing as per a recent report released by Crain B2B in conjunction with Bizo. The data revealed email as the No. 1 marketing activity at 49 percent for business to business (B2B). This marketing channel was followed by paid Internet web search at 36 percent and social media being at the bottom with 29 percent response.
This migration to email marketing makes sense because of its affordability. Beyond the time to construct the message, pay for some auto responder service that averages between $15 and $20 a month, this is a minor investment compared to running a paid advertisement in a local newspaper, business journal, billboard or other media spot. Additionally, all of this can be done from the office and does not require outside meetings, back and forth approvals, etc.
One tell talefact within this marketing research report was that email marketing was viewed as not as effective in securing new sales leads and thus caused great uncertainty by those who responded.
After the last week of easily receiving more than 100 poorly constructed emails from bad email marketing campaigns, I can personally attest to why these B2B marketers should be concerned.
These emails ranged from Fortune 500 firms to “lone wolves” (sole proprietors) with locations from Northwest Indiana, Washington, D.C., to across the globe. And they all shared several fatal flaws.
First, one was a bad subject line. The first purpose of marketing is about attracting attention. If the subject line (think headline) is boring, uninteresting, the email gets deleted without being opened. In 2010, Harte-Hanks reported a 17 percent open rate down from the 2009 rate of 25 percent.
Second, no personalization was present. There may be a Hi, a Good Day, but your name is not on the email message. What this suggests is your email address has been reaped, harvested and sold to some business that does not know you from Adam. The failure to make it personal is probably why there is only a 3 percent click through rate as suggested by Harte-Hanks in that same report.
Third, the message is all about the sender and not about you as the buyer. In business-to-business networking events, this is called showing up and throwing up or as my colleague Jeb Blount calls is “pump and dump.” The sender is sharing everything he or she can do for you without ever asking about you and your business. Their goal is not to build a relationship but to sell you something.
Having email marketing as part of your overall integrated marketing plan where you unite your inbound actions (think Internet) with your outbound ones (think direct mail, tradeshows, business to business networking) makes good business sense Just remember people buy from people they know and trust. When your message attracts positive attention as demonstrated through the open rate and begins to build the relationship as noted by your click through rate, then you will know this necessary small business marketing strategy is yielding fruit (new sales leads) and will increase sales.
P.S. Shout Out: With Tuesday being federal tax day this year, having an accountant is a good strategy. Tree House Financial in Merrillville or Glenda Snyder & Associates in Valparaiso are two of the many CPAs in Northwest Indiana.