As technology and consumer expectations evolve at dizzying rates, now is the time to reboot (or at least re-think) the way you approach your marketing. The email marketing software that may have once worked for you has become yesterday’s legacy tool for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Today’s SMBs can no longer effectively and efficiently grow the way they once did.
The Price of Limited Reach
Cheap and easy. That’s how email marketing tools promote their value. Dig deeper though, and you’ll quickly find that what you don’t get from them is costing you far more than the monthly subscription fee.
The return on investment for email marketing seems compelling. The relatively low cost is why email blasting software like Constant Contact, MailChimp or DemandForce is often the first—and easiest—choice for customer marketing. These tools are familiar, seemingly simple to use, and they appear to deliver results. But what they’re missing is what’s hurting you.
According to Bob Fabbio, CEO of marketing automation service provider eRelevance, “Relying exclusively on a single channel like email will make it hard for an SMB to grow because most of your contacts will never get your message.”
That’s because the average email open rate across all industries in the US is about 20 percent. So while your email message may reach up to 20 percent of your contacts, you’re missing a whopping 80 percent.
And not reaching that many people is costing you. Every contact missed is a lost revenue opportunity and a missed chance to nurture a profitable relationship.
The Cost of Messages That Don’t Drive Action
Today’s consumers demand choice; They want to communicate with businesses and brands through their preferred channels and on their terms, which often is not email. To drive action (and ultimately conversion), a marketing campaign, regardless of channel, must resonate with recipients and meet their needs.
Without the ability to easily segment your contacts and target relevant messages on topics of interest to them, which basic email software doesn’t do, you’re sending messages that don’t work and wasting valuable resources. It’s eating into your bottom line.
Reaching the most people possible and connecting with them in meaningful and relevant ways is the difference between wasting your time and turning relationships into revenue. Marketing success (more leads and more conversions) takes an integrated, multi-channel digital marketing strategy that resonates. Customer marketing done right is not done through one, limited email marketing software program.
More Tools = More Money = More Work
To execute effective marketing campaigns across multiple channels, you’ll need tools to not only craft email campaigns, but to: create, buy and manage targeted advertising on social media; build landing pages; send SMS texts; cleanse and manage lists; and generate data analytics that optimize results—all of which come at a hefty investment.
Not only is it cost-prohibitive for most SMBs to purchase all the necessary tools for integrated, multi-channel digital marketing, but effectively managing multiple tools is a time-consuming internal resource drain. Getting the most out of comprehensive marketing automation is a full-time job, and very few small businesses have the necessary time to do things like segmenting lists and crafting and testing copy. Plus, each marketing software platform has varying degrees of power and complexity for email triggers, forms, advanced segmentation and reporting, making them complex to use and fully leverage.
Another hidden cost of marketing automation is the technical expertise and time needed to implement the software. Most SMBs don’t have the required technical resources to make it all happen. Implementation involves integrating the marketing software with other systems and technical development for things like installing tracking codes on web pages, all of which takes time and know-how. A capable expert is key.
Because of the significant resource costs associated with running the tools to execute effective campaigns, the questions become: Where do you want to invest your internal resources, and what are the opportunity costs of doing so?
The answers are a matter of cost-effectiveness and efficiency. You want experts doing what they do best because not everyone can be a marketer. Ultimately, you must ask: What are the opportunity costs of internal staff experimenting with marketing, through trial and error, instead of directly serving customers?
So what’s the answer?
You’ll have to determine what you can accomplish with internal resources, then where you will have to outsource to capable experts.
Even an experienced consultant who understands the value of a multi-channel marketing approach won’t have access to integrated dashboards and technology that allows for time-efficient execution and analysis of campaigns across multiple channels. The kind of technical integration necessary to do this is simply not accessible to an individual marketing expert or small consultancy. The result is slow results, if any at all.
Some SMBs have had success with a new category of solution called a marketing automation service, which marries marketing experts and technology to do the work for you.
Do your homework to determine what’s right for you and your growth goals. Understanding why what you’re doing now may be falling short is the best place to start.