EMail Marketing for Small to Medium Sized Businesses Shows Some Troubling Signs of Diminished Usefulness

My recent experience, on behalf of clients, tells me email marketing remains one of the most important online promotional tools available to Small to Medium Sized Businesses (SMBs), here in the US.

But I’ve noted some technical limitations, which lead me to recalibrate, upwards, the amount of effort required to put together a truly productive email marketing campaign for SMBs. It may be helpful to frame the obstacle as follows:

Email marketing is no more, no less than a method of engaging with market participants who, at some level, should be considered sales prospects. So the only meaningful performance metric I know of for this type of campaign is the number of responses received from recipients.

If an HTML email marketing campaign touches 1K recipients, but stimulates only 5 responses (1/2 of 1% response rate), then, it is surely safe to conclude the campaign required a considerable amount of effort vs. the return. An SMB with a 15K email address database can only run a campaign, like the above, 15 times. If the pool of responses at the conclusion of all 15 campaigns amounts to only 75 responses, and sales closes 5 – 7 $10K orders from all of the effort, then it may be safe to conclude the return on investment is marginal (of course all of this depends on the annual revenue produced by my hypothetical SMB, average sales price, etc.).

Usually, I will advise a client to then look to a tool like VisualVisitor, which can be configured to identify web site visits resulting from a click on a special hot link included in an HTML email message, to point out recipients who opted to visit a web site in lieu of actually responding to the email message. This method exposes additional opportunities for sales teams. The additional benefit from this approach can be considerable.

But HTML emails are required to obtain the added benefit from implementing links with VisualVisitor tags. In my opinion HTML emails contribute, substantially, to recent ineffectiveness of email marketing campaigns for my clients. Markets are looking for a personal email message, which is best achieved with plain text. I haven’t yet experimented with adding VisualVisitor tagged links to plain text email campaigns and have no plans to do so in the near future.

I do plan on speaking with the technical team at VisualVisitor to see if there is any precedent here. In other words, has anyone used the tags in plain text email messages? If you have an interest in this topic and would like to follow it, please contact me.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

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