4.2 billion people on Earth own toothbrushes. 4.8 billion own cell phones.
The exponential progression of gadgets, social media, and email has transformed human behavior across the planet. To stay in front of their customers, businesses have been forced to adjust their approach or perish into cyber dust. The Internet has swept commerce into a marketing revolution full of supercharged opportunities and colossal failures.
People send and receive approximately 100 emails during the workday. Teens text each other when they are in the same room. The next species on Darwin’s Theory of Evolution chart is a human hunched over a smartphone with lightning-fast opposable thumbs.
Any entrepreneur who believes their business is too small to be affected by this shift is lying in front of a rocket-fueled steamroller, and it’s only a matter of time before they’re flattened by their competition — competition who might be even smaller than them, but, to their chagrin, tuned into reality (likely via a mobile device).
The truth hurts … Not heeding the truth hurts more …
Nine out of 10 businesses fail. 80% fail within 5 years, 40% of them in the first year.
Of those remaining 20% who survive to their fifth anniversary, 80% of them will close their doors before they reach the ripe old age of 10.
That leaves us with a whopping 4% of businesses still operating after 10 years.
With odds like those, it’s more critical than ever to keep your finger on the pulse of ever-changing marketing trends.
On the plus side …
You have a 60 to 70% chance of selling something to an existing customer, but only a 5 to 20% chance of selling to a new prospect.
Add to that, email marketing has the highest Return On Investment at (on average) 4300%.
If you do the math, the value of an existing customer’s email address is priceless, give or take 5%.
The common denominator in your favor.
Marketing experts estimate that 80 to 95% of businesses are not maximizing email’s marketing potential.
Let’s do another bit of math to drive this point home:
If most businesses are not doing email marketing justice, and the average Return On Investment is still 4300%, then the business who is optimizing their email marketing efforts is … (click click click on the adding machine) … filthy, stinkin’ rich.
So what should you put in an email to customers?
This is where so many businesses go awry with email. They ask customers to marry them on the first date and every date after until they cave to the pressure or run into the tender arms of their competition.
Email is best used as a tool to build relationships with customers. It sounds cheesy, but there it is. Consumers prefer to buy from businesses that they know, like, and trust — businesses they have a positive relationship with.
You can’t buy trust. You have to earn it.
Fortunately, it’s easy. And it might just earn your business a Miss Congeniality nomination to boot.
You earn the trust of your prospects by giving to them without asking for anything in return. Give away free information. Give away free advice. Trade secrets be damned — give away the whole works.
If you’re terrified of revealing your trade secrets, keep in mind that buying a book full of plumbing instructions does not a plumber make. Anybody — your customers, your competition, your pet rhinoceros — can access every trade secret you have via books and Google. Knowledge alone does not magically transform people (or rhinos) into qualified experts. If you want proof, watch an episode of Disaster DIY.
That’s right, I said giving away all your trade secrets is a proven path to big business.
For example, if you own a garden center, you could send out regular emails with topics like, “How to Grow Fresh Vegetables in Your Kitchen,” “Plant a Flourishing Garden on Your Balcony — Potted Annuals for Apartments,” and “5 Ways to Keep Pests From Destroying Your Flowerboxes.”
Give away every trade secret you have. Customers will love you for it. They’ll drool every time your juicy free content shows up in their inbox and show their gratitude by dumping their wallets into your cash register.
It’s okay to slip in a purchase suggestion now and then. But, marketing experts argue this should be no more than 20% of the time, preferably less.
It should almost look like an afterthought. You send out your outrageously valuable expertise as always, (“The Best Time to Plant Spring Bulbs”), with a footnote (not a flashing graphic that takes up half the screen) that says, “You can plant twice as many bulbs this year if you swing in during our half-price sale this weekend! Come early for the best selection, we won’t be ordering any more until next year!”
Do you see how that almost sounds like you’re sharing another secret with them? Like you’re doing them a favor? It’s so much more personal than, “50% off spring bulbs this weekend only.”
You’ve built a relationship with them with all your free tips. You’ve given them platinum advice without asking for anything in return. Their gardens are overflowing with blossoms thanks to you.
They feel like they know you. They like you. They trust you. And now you’re sending them a personal invitation to get the best selection of spring bulbs ahead of the general public who are not part of the cool kids’ club. Come Saturday morning, there will be a risk of a stampede through your doors.
The key here is that your emails must contain something of value. A link to this week’s sales flier is not valuable — it’s a sales pitch. Big difference. It’s a complete mind-shift from what we know.
Grow exponentially by adding engagement.
Nothing makes a customer feel more important than a personal response. E-letters are fantastic for blanket tutorials, but blogs take engagement to the next level.
When customers subscribe to your blog via email, your golden stream of content lands in their inbox the same way an e-newsletter does. Many businesses are actually eliminating RSS feeds as an option on their blogs because email has better reach.
Personal interaction makes you a human as opposed to a faceless, cold, uncaring corporation who’s only out for a buck.
Subscribers will see your little avatar face beside every response you give to their comments.
And by golly, anybody who would go to that much trouble must really care about their customers’ happiness.
Who do you think they’d rather shop with? The gal who shares free tips all the time and responds to their questions and comments, or the irritating windbag on TV who interrupts them with obnoxious sales rants while they’re watching Wheel of Fortune? Or the chap who runs a boring ad in the paper that insists he’s the best choice in the industry?
You do the math.