Last week we wrote about iContact, an email marketing solution for small and medium-sized businesses, with a free edition for users with up to 500 contacts. The information sparked a fair amount of interest so we asked John Hayes, the EMEA Business Development Executive for iContact, to share some tips on how to get started with your first email marketing campaigns.
Email Marketing & Social Media: Helping you fall back in love with eBay
Most serious online traders I know have a love/hate relationship with eBay. They love the fact it drives considerable sales volumes but hate the fact it can be expensive and at times overly bureaucratic. The same can be said for Amazon. In the crazy world of online marketplaces, it’s all too easy to be a busy fool.
Ideally, entrepreneurs would love to be able to cut out the middleman and have customers flocking to their own website where, in theory at least, the cost of sale should be much cheaper. However, this theory doesn’t take into account the cost of acquiring customers via PPC, SEO, CSEs and Affiliate Marketing.
I’m probably teaching my grandmother to suck eggs here. The basic fact is that acquiring customers via any channel is expensive. And here is the problem – eBay, Amazon, Google Adwords, etc., etc. are all about acquisition. And even if you do get repeat business from these channels the chances are the costs will stay the same.
How to drive repeat business
So how do you drive repeat business without incurring the same high costs associated with acquiring customers?
Step 1. If you haven’t done so already, build your own website.
Step 2. Develop a strategy encompassing email marketing and social media to retain and drive repeat business at minimum cost.
Step 3. Continue to offer a stellar service across all channels to ensure a constant stream of new business.
Step 4. Understand your costs and budget accordingly..
Sounds easy, right? And in actual fact – it is.
But first there are a couple of issues which you need to be aware of.
How to build your email marketing contacts
Sending un-solicited email is illegal, will damage your reputation and ultimately lose you customers. Also buying lists can be expensive and is highly unlikely to yield the results you want. Both practices are forbidden at iContact.
eBay also prohibits the adding of customer email addresses to email marketing lists without their prior permission. A good practice to navigate this issue would be to simply offer an incentive to join your mailing list in any post-sale communications. Something along the lines of “Thank you for your purchase. Save 20% off you next order by signing up for our newsletter”.
Another increasingly popular option is to encourage your customer to follow you on Facebook.
Contrary to popular belief email marketing and social media activity both sit very neatly together. So much so that at iContact we have developed a Facebook app which allows users to join email lists directly from Facebook.
The trick is to get your messaging right. Short, chatty and witty posts work better on sites like Facebook where people may resent an overly salesy approach. Relevant, targeted, offer-based communications work best in the email environment. Both channels ensure your brand stays front of mind and helps direct customers straight back to you whilst avoiding the expense acquisition routes.
What about the costs?
Email Marketing is exceptionally cost effective. Remember you are only sending emails to people who have given their permission for you to contact them and will welcome your messages. Social media is essentially free – but please be wary of how much time you are investing into your social activity – time is money after all.
So now you have two streams to your business. These are acquisition and retention. Take your time to analyse the difference between the costs of these activities and budget accordingly. You know that acquisition is an expensive but necessary part of business. You know that retention is where the profit is.
This should make looking at eBay as an acquisition tool (even as a loss leader) somewhat more palatable. You might even fall back in love with eBay as it helps you drive more profitable repeat business.