No eCommerce? Email Marketing Still Works!

January 19, 2007

I was in the process of planning a post discussing email marketing for companies who do not sell their products or services on the web. I had read a couple articles and posts in the last month which focused on email marketing as a tool only to drive eCommerce transactions. Sure, emails are great for that, but I think there are many more uses to email marketing – especially in a B to B environment.

Well, Karen Talavera of Synchronicity Marketing stole my thunder. I was researching some content for the post and came across an excellent article written by her for BtoB’s eMail Marketing Insight. She outlined my main points! So, let’s read what SHE has to say:

“Many organizations can’t or don’t sell products and services online. For them, the concept of driving sales conversions via e-mail to an e-commerce-enabled Web site makes about as much sense as leading a horse to a well instead of a river. These companies instead rely on their Web sites to educate interested prospects, cultivate inquiries and accelerate leads—and their best application of e-mail marketing is to do the same. Here’s how:

  • Answer inquiries. A non-e-commerce Web site is ideal for gathering and fielding inquiries. E-mail is used to respond to those inquiries with customized information, answer specific questions or, better yet, the all-important invitation to begin the sales process in the company’s channels of choice. For b-to-b marketers, that may mean setting phone appointments or initial meetings, or referring to a distributor or reseller.
  • Educate. What are the steps prospects must take in order to buy from you? Do they know what those steps are? What are the typical objections to a purchase decision? In the often complex and lengthy b-to-b buying cycles that involve group consensus-building or decision-making, it pays to address and overcome known objections early through proactive e-mail campaigns.
  • Accelerate. Once a prospect (or even a returning customer) is well into the sales funnel, there’s a special role for e-mail marketing and the premise is simple: Multiple communications channels increase response. E-mail regularly scheduled in conjunction with individual account exec or sales team contact will accelerate qualified prospects into customers. E-mail is also a route for conveying exclusive offers, incentives or limited-time deadlines that prompt open opportunities to close rather than linger indefinitely.
  • Build and sustain customer communication. Do you proactively reach out to customers to share news, announcements, and information of interest to them rather than you? E-mail is ideal for distributing information, yet too often that information is irrelevant to the audience; either it isn’t customized enough or is manufactured simply to fill yet another e-newsletter. Don’t push content solely for the sake of maintaining a particular contact frequency once a prospect converts to a customer if it isn’t useful, relevant, and engaging.”

Email marketing is a powerful way to educate, drive traffic, and generate leads even if you don’t sell through your website. The harder you work to refine your email strategy, the bigger the pay-off.


Check This List Out if You Haven’t Already

January 5, 2007

I thought most everyone in the search marketing world had seen or heard about this list, but I’ve corresponded today with two people who had not. So, I’m posting this in case any of my readers have not visited Lee Odden‘s Online Marketing Blog to see his incredible list of search marketing blogs. He and his team put a ton of work into this – the list is definitely worth a look!

I’ve already found a few blogs on the list that I didn’t know about that contain great content for the small business marketer.


Search and Display: Mix It Up

January 2, 2007

I’ve written in previous posts about the right marketing mix. By that I mean the melding of various mediums of marketing into one cohesive plan. Whether it be print advertising, search marketing, banner advertising, etc – its the art of bringing it all together in one marketing plan. Well, because I think its so important and also because we’re starting a new year and a new media plan, I’m throwing out more information on the topic.

A recent article on the Marketing VOX website discussed the results of two recent studies on display and search advertising and the effects that one has on the other. One of the reports described was done by ClickZ News and they say:

“…found that online users exposed to both the search and display advertising campaigns purchased the advertiser’s products and services 244 percent more online and 89 percent more offline compared with users not shown the ads.”

I love seeing numbers like these. As I’ve stated in the past, I’m not a huge fan of print advertising, but I know that its a necessary expense for many companies due to its large impact on branding. Print advertising is costly and takes up a size-able percentage of an overall marketing budget, but when you see how one medium can impact another, you can more than justify the expense.

Now, does this mean you can go out and run print and search ads, let them run, and you’re on your way to an early retirement. No way! In order to achieve the success found in those studies, your messaging and strategy need to be consistent throughout. The mix between your display and online should support and strengthen each other and your overall message.


Are You Interacting With Your Target Market?

December 29, 2006

As I was breaking up boxes from numerous kids toys received by my kids this Christmas, I was reflecting on our gift buying this holiday. I couldn’t recall one gift that was not researched or purchased online. Granted, my wife and I are heavy Internet users, but this is not unusual anymore. We spent time on forums and product review posts looking for toys and gifts for relatives that had gotten good reviews and had high quality ratings. We found gift ideas and learned what others had luck with and what they recommended we avoid.

A recent article in Entrepreneur Magazine focused on online marketing going high-tech. The article, by Catherine Seda, discusses a study done that measured what technologies are being used by Internet users to talk and shop. The article suggested that we’re not in the minority for how we go about shopping and researching:

“This study suggests that heavy internet users aren’t sitting back, waiting to receive information. They’re chatting with colleagues. They’re creating content and conversations”

So, what does this have to do with marketing for small business? Plenty. As marketers, the rules are changing for us each day and how we reach our audience is a moving target. Social interaction online is becoming a norm and the use of high-tech media for marketing is now mainstream. As you look at your 2007 marketing strategy take a step back and make sure you’re giving your target market the interaction they need to analyze and purchase your product or service.


Very Informative Interview on SEO/SEM for Small Business

December 29, 2006

I came across a great interview with Matt McGee of Small Business SEM. The interview was conducted by Gradiva Cousin and Jennifer Grappone, co-authors of Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day. The interview was focused on how small businesses can compete in search engine optimization and search engine marketing.

I thought Matt’s answers did a great job of highlighting how small business can move faster than large business but also can be restricted by budget and resources. He also outlined some simple tips and thoughts on how small business marketers can begin understanding and implementing optimization and marketing for search engines.

I couldn’t agree more. Many small businesses can learn enough to get started and do the basics. Taking the next step of attending conferences, networking, and reading up on the topic are keys. In my current position, we’ve even tried to get larger, well-known SEO/SEM firms to come in and either validate what we’re doing or give us advice on how to improve, but often they have bigger fish to go after. We’ve taken the stance of learning and getting the job done ourselves and I couldn’t be happier with the choice. SEO/SEM work is challenging and fun at the same time.


Online Ad Prices on the Rise?

December 28, 2006

I found a quick stat about online advertising revenues and 2007 prices written on the iMedia Connection website by Roger Park. The article states that rates will be on the rise for 2007. I’ve planned and signed orders for most of my online media for 2007 and I really haven’t seen much of an increase. I buy primarily in the tech arena and most of my pricing has carried over from this year.

One trick I live by is to ask for better pricing based on quantity and other media being purchased. For instance, if I’m buying print ads, I’ll hint to the vendor that I want to do something online (email marketing, banner ads, etc.) and flat out ask for better pricing since I’m purchasing print ads. Most vendors are willing to negotiate and the good ones get me to spend more in the end. But, the bundling seems to help lower costs.


Valuable Small Business Email Marketing Information

December 27, 2006

John Jantsch at Duct Tap Marketing Blog has a post talking about an Email Marketing service called MailChimp that he likes. He also has a link to a free guide being offered by the service that includes tips and tricks to getting your emails read and acted on more often. John has a great, long-standing blog that I make a daily read so I trust his judgement.

I downloaded and have started to read the 50-page guidebook. I can tell already that its a great resource for small businesses who would like some information to improve email marketing delivery.

Interestingly enough, you can download the guide without registering to receive it. Possibly a great lead generation opportunity missed for MailChimp?