Smart Marketing Basics

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Email Marketing category.

Engagement Marketing – Nurturing Prospective Customers Over Time

I recently received an inquiry regarding participation or engagement marketing and what this category of marketing means to small businesses. So I thought I would devote a few words on this topic in a quick blog post. Please feel free to share your insights as well, by posting a comment.

In its simplest sense, engagement marketing means “lead nurture” and involves providing a steady stream of outreach or communications to prospective customers in order to build a relationship with them over time.

Think of it this way. Marketers pay to acquire leads by executing on a variety of campaigns and programs, such as email blasts, banner ads, opt-in forms on your website, etc.  However, only some of those prospects will convert into customers right away. That does not mean that those that don’t should be discarded or disqualified, rather they should be nurtured.

Offering up a steady stream of news announcements, or thought leadership content (e.g. customer case studies, products tips and tricks, or best practices articles) can help your organization to build a relationship of trust, and keep these prospective customers “engaged” over time, until they become ready to buy.

Automated email or drip email campaigns are a good way to execute on engagement marketing programs. You can easily segment your list of prospects by action – those that respond to your campaign should go into your sales pipeline for follow up, and those that don’t can go into your automated drip campaign. Set a schedule (say once per month) to send out a brief email offering up some valuable content, such as the examples mentioned above, and you will begin build up a longer-term database of prospects. This in-house database will become a valuable strategic asset to your business because it provides you with a low-cost outreach tool for marketing, and allows you to continue to build your brand in a positive way.

Let us know about your experiences in engagement marketing, and what has worked for your small business, as well as what hasn’t!

What is Hot with Small Business Marketers – Our Top Posts

With the 3rd quarter of the 2011 calendar year recently wrapped up, decided to look back over the last three months to see which blog posts resonated the most with small business marketers.  Site statistics are a great way to monitor the marketplace to identify current marketing trends, and to better understand which issues are top of mind for small business marketers.  

Here are the top 5 posts by views, followed by a quick summary of each post:

1. Press Releases – How to Convince Your Colleagues to Use Press Release Marketing – While writing press releases to promote your small business is a “no brainer” strategy to many professional marketers, they often times have to influence their corporate peers to support this activity.

2. Press Release Distribution Strategies for Small Business – Some quick thoughts on the importance of developing an appropriate distribution strategy for sharing your news with key stakeholders for your business. 

3. Pitching Your Small Business for Speaking Events – Speaking at local business or community events, or seeking out presenter slots is a great way to get exposure for your company’s expertise, as well as generate some potential sales leads.

4. 10 Tips for Small Business Marketers – A quick-read article from Entrepreneur magazine that features some “to do’s” for any small business trying to navigate through these tough times.

5. Email Messaging Templates for Small Business Marketers – Email marketing provides a cost-effective approach to targeting your markets, either by industry, organization type, specific user profile, or by geography.

It is amazing that many of these tops post are older, some dating back to last year, which goes to show that some topics are consistently important to our readers- a helpful gauge as to what we should cover on a regular basis.  Our Smart Marketing Basics blog will make a point to track this hot list each quarter.  Please feel free to comment if you don’t see your hot marketing issue represented here, and we will try to address it in a new post in Q4.

Email Marketing Best Practices for Your Small Business

As a 20+ year marketing veteran, and founder of the website, (templates and tips to get small businesses marketing fast), I often get requests for email marketing tips on how small businesses owners and marketers can avoid their outbound emails being considered as “spam” by propsects they reach out to. 

The two main things I ask them to focus on are: 1) developing and managing a quality list, and 2)  creating compelling messages and content that resonates with their list recipients. 

List development
It is important to seek out list sources that let you filter against a variety of demographics and job titles, so you can reach someone who is as close to your target customer as possible.  Generic lists to an untargeted mass audience will lead to a high number of spam blocking and unsubscribe requests.  The more targeted you get, and the better your open rates and click through metrics will be. 

Focus on quality contacts, versus quantity.  A bigger list isn’t always better.  Requiring your targets to “opt-in” to your list, versus you spamming them without permission, will lead to a better email responses.  For example, having  a form on your website, or including an offer in your outbound emails, that ask them to sign up to receive your content, leads to a better quality list.  Additionally, asking your list contacts to re-opt in on a regular basis, say annually, guarantees that you keep your list clean and healthy. 

Lastly, be sure to use a legitimate email service provider, whether its Constant Contact, MyEmma, or proven marketing automation vendor, that can provide you with master unsubscribe capabilities – this is a must-do to keeping your email reputation clean!

Content and Message
Another key factor to avoiding high levels of unsubscribes, is to be sure you provide relevant and compelling content to your email recipients.  This does not have to be an expensive or daunting undertaking.  At, we advocate marketing your thought leadership by developing case studies, customer win announcements, and providing other business insights, such as a top ten list of tips around a certain topic (these could focus on the basic services that your company offers). 

For example, if you are a small business providing accounting services, you could create a “top ten list for year-end tax planning” email message and provide relevant action items, and a call-to-action to get more insight through a free consultation. 

Content development seems to be a big obstacle for small businesses to undertaking, but it can easily be done (we offer templates to help with this).  All a small business has to do is look at their daily business activities for ideas. 

Hope this helps, and I would welcome your comments and insights.  For more help on creating compelling messages for email marketing, check out our low cost templates available for download by going to:
Email Marketing Templates for Small Businesses

Email Messaging Templates for Small Business Marketers

Most small businesses are created to solve a specific customer problem, fill a gap in the marketplace, or to turn a passionate hobby into a commercial business.  However, it’s simply not enough to get your product ‘production-ready’ for shipping, and ‘sales-ready’ for customers. You must generate demand for your offerings with your target customer.  See below for more insights, as well as a link to more information on some new templates that can help you.
For small business marketers, email marketing provides a cost-effective approach to targeting your markets, either by industry, organization type, specific user profile, or by geography.  Additionally, email marketing is extremely measurable, allowing you to course-correct if you are not getting the results you want.  Email marketing also allows you to test out new product ideas, marketing messages, and promotional offers to test groups, before launching them in full force to the mass market.  It’s easy to see why email marketing can give you a lot bang for your ‘small business marketing’ buck.
Developing a program that incorporates email best practices and effective messaging concepts is critical to your small business success.  Not only will you need to invest in some email system infrastructure, you must invest time into developing a solid marketing message that incorporates the three C’s.  Successful email campaigns require clear, concise and compelling messages that articulate who you are and the value you provide. In order to pass the ‘so what?’ test with your readers, your email message must: 1) quickly identify with the reader and their particular pain or need, 2) promise sufficient value or a compelling benefit, and 3) provide a follow-up step or a call to action for the reader to take. 
Creating successful emails messages is a lot like cooking – it’s important to use the right recipe of ingredients for the end result to turn out well.  For email campaigns, your recipe should include an attention-grabbing headline that commands your readers’ attention, followed by a subhead that helps begin your conversation and persuades them to read the introductory paragraph.   This first paragraph must identify with their pains or challenges, and offer up a value promise that will appeal to them.  Use quotes or industry research to help build credibility for your offering and to validate your message.  Featuring a “call-to-action” is critical in any email you send out, because you want to give your readers to take a “next step” to take to get more information.
Don’t worry if you aren’t a good cook!  Low cost email templates are available that can make this task easy for any small business looking to promote new products, new services, special events or promotions. recently announced a new series of Email Templates that can help small business marketers to easily structure effective email messages (read press release). Rather than using “trial and error” tactics, small business marketers can now quickly create professional emails using easy-to-use, low-cost templates. Email Templates can be used to promote a new product or service, customer win, special event, and special promotion. For example, the New Product email template walks users through creating each message component, such as the headline, introductory paragraph and the call to action. An illustrative example is included with each template.  These Email Messaging Templates are now available for only $6.95 each, and can be downloaded by going to: Remember, in this era of SPAM, your message must resonate in seconds with your reader!  Keep your content short and simple, with the goal of getting your reader interested in learning more about what you do.   When it comes to email performance, a clear and compelling message will always trump fancy design or graphics. 


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