Email Marketing for Group Activity Providers
Email marketing is one of the key digital channels any business should utilise and master well. Not only is it more effective at acquiring new customers, but it is also much more cost-efficient and suitable for small businesses with limited (marketing) budget. In most cases, email marketing is virtually free (other than the cost of time and effort to do it right).
Email is estimated to be nearly 40x more effective at acquiring new customers than either Facebook or Twitter according to McKinsey, a consulting firm.
In this post, I will lay out a few areas of focus to help you start the journey. Like most of my posts in this Digital Marketing for Group Activity Providers series, it is meant to provide you with some useful tips to start the journey, rather than as a comprehensive guide.
Build your audience list
The first step to do email marketing is to have an audience list. There are several ways in which you can start growing your audience list.
Use pop-up windows on your website
A pop-up window can also be a useful tool to collect potential customers. Most modern website builders or email marketing tools (e.g., Mailchimp) have built-in functions that support pop-up windows.
Don't miss the opportunity from new customers
Invite your customers to join your mailing list by attaching a sign-up form in your regular transaction emails when someone placed an order with you, or at the check-out stage, offer the option to subscribe to your mailing list.
Offering something useful in return for sign-up
You may have seen websites offering free e-books or advice on certain topics, but one can only access after signing up for a mailing list. You can also adopt this strategy, for example, by offering a free online video (say if you are a yoga studio), or an e-book about the basics of oil painting (say if you operate group classes for painting). The key is to think about what your potential customers would find useful.
Use all your channels
Don't forget about all the other channels where you interact with your (potential) customers! Add a link to subscribe in your Twitter/ Instagram posts. Encourage sign-up during trial lessons. Include a QR code in your posters in store...
Note: With the introduction of GDPR, even smaller businesses need to pay special attention to user consent, and it is advisable to keep track of your mailing list recipients' preferences. Again most email marketing tools have a built-in "unsubscribe" option included in all the marketing emails you send. This way you are not only GDPR compliant, but also helps you focus on those truly interested in your business offering.
Segment your audience
Even if you operate in the most niche business, your potential customers are likely to be very different, so why sending your customers the same email?
Segmentation can be based on various dimensions. More specifically, we are going to focus on demographic vs. behavioral.
This is one of the most straightforward segmentation methods, looking at your customers by metrics such as age, gender, or location. It also depends on how much information you have about your customers (for example, you will probably only know an email address for a new website subscriber, whereas you may know a lot more about a return customer). One strategy could be to send a "generic" email for customers without detailed information, and 1-2 variations of more tailored emails for those who you understand better.
This is based on customer behaviour and interaction with your business. For example, if you are a yoga studio, you could segment your audience list into:
- "New subscribers": For anyone who has just signed up to your mailing list;
- "Trial users": For anyone who has attended your studio no more than once in the past month;
- "Regular customers": For anyone who has attended your studio more than once in the past month;
- "Yoga enthusiasts": For anyone who has attended your studio on a weekly basis with a weekly class pass.
In the next section, I will talk about how to make use of these segments.
Write good emails
Now that you have a decent list of (potential) customers and customer segments, it is important to understand what is considered "a good email".
According to Campaign Monitor, only 1 in 6 marketing emails were "read" by recipients, and in certain industries, that could be as low as 1 in 10.
Some dos and don'ts when writing your email.
1. Be personal
It is important to find a tone of voice that suits you and your business.
One of the most simple ways to do so is to send from a person rather than from your business.
Visualising your email recipient with a clear persona also helps: It doesn't have to be perfect or very detailed, e.g., think of your audience as Mary from Liverpool, who is a 35 year old professional and enthusiastic about Yoga. What content (picture and word) would catch her eyes?
Combining with the next tip, your emails will be more personal and powerful, and therefore more likely to be read.
2. Tailor the content
This links naturally to the previous section on customer segmentation. Let's continue with the example of the yoga studio: In response to the Covid crisis, the yoga studio is launching a new outdoor yoga and want to email its subscribers with this news.
The content of the email should vary depending on the customer segment. For "new subscribers", focus on the fact that this is a good way to trial the studio in a Covid secure way, and perhaps offer a free trial for the first lesson. For "yoga enthusiasts", maybe it is better to focus the content on the benefit of outdoor yoga, and the fact that the studio is back to business and would be delighted to welcome its loyal customers back. You know your business much better than anyone else does, and find an angle that conveys your message, while tailoring it for the recipients.
3. Include "Call to Action"
Every marketing email should have a goal and a "Call to Action" button linking to that goal. Using the same example above, do not expect that email recipients will take the effort to visit your studio's website, find out the link to the outdoor yoga, and sign up using the form online. You should include the link to the dedicated page and make it stand out.
4. Establish a sequence
Keep in touch with your customers so that you are always on their minds (but do not spam by sending emails daily). For a new subscriber, make sure to send a welcome email immediately after sign-up. (You can establish an automatic sequence with most email marketing tools.)
5. Track performance
It is crucial to track your email performance so that you can continue improving your tone of voice and your content. How many recipients opened the email? How many clicked on the link to the specific webpage? How many purchased a class because of the email? Answers to these questions will provide valuable insight into the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns.
Again, most email marketing tools have this function built-in. If you don't have one, there might be some simple add-ins to add onto your email clinet portals. For example, Gmail has a tracking tool that allows you to check if a recipient has opened your email. To track how many clicked on the link, you need to enable Google Analytics and configure your link to include campaign details. I will cover more details on how to use Goolge Analytics in my upcoming post.
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