Email Marketing on a Budget: What Every Solopreneur Should Know
Most marketers would agree that email is an important tool in the quest for gaining new clients and increasing conversions. One popular ROI figure floating around online for email marketing is 122 percent. Not bad, right?
Another source has found ROI estimates for email marketing that range from 73 percent to 3,800 percent. That’s a pretty broad range. What accounts for the numbers? And how should a solopreneur or small business proceed?
Email Marketing: A Moving Target
The greatest factor for a measurable ROI with an email marketing campaign is probably the marketer's skill (or luck — this is marketing, after all) in getting their emails opened and read, in order to make the sale.
Beyond that are other factors — the strength of the economy, what quarter you're in, any events or trends that might be affecting your industry, etc.
In the beginning — at least when you’re just learning — try to keep your expectations realistic, especially if your budget is limited.
How Can You Make the Most of Your Investment in Email Marketing?
To make the most of your email marketing dollars, follow these simple steps.
Don’t just pick the Constant Contact or MailChimp email marketing platforms because you’ve heard of them. They might be right for your purposes, but they might not.
You may also want to resist the temptation to just get the cheapest email software available. The web is rife with articles comparing email marketing software platforms to help you determine the best one for you. To keep your head from spinning, set a time limit for your search, skim a bunch of articles, and look for patterns in the advice.
Set a budget.
The Small Business Administration recommends allocating 7 percent to 8 percent of your budget for advertising if your sales are less than $5 million and your profit margin is around 10 to 12 percent. However, that recommended figure drops to 2 to 3 percent for startups and small businesses.
If you just plan to write marketing emails off the top of your head, you’re wasting your time. While there is certainly no one perfect email that works on 100 percent of your contacts, there is also lots of bogus advice out there for writing emails. There are some generally accepted rules:
Avoid spammy subject lines and overuse of exclamation points and capitalization (READ THIS NOW!!!!)
Keep the preview text in mind. This contains the first few words of the email that the recipient can see before opening it. Do not waste these with throwaway words like, “good morning,” or repeat words like, “Sale! Sale! Sale!”
Use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Have someone proofread your email before you send it out. No one wants to look sloppy, or worse — dumb.
Track what’s working and what’s not.
Although this is the final step, it’s the most important one, because no matter how many best-practice rules you follow, your results will vary depending on factors both within and outside of your control such as:
You spelled their name wrong
The news that day
A technical glitch
A downturn in your industry
You chose the word “can” instead of “will”
While we make success sound arbitrary and random — and it can be — it’s important that you determine what is working for you (and do more of it) and what isn’t working for you (and do less of it).
Know there is no one correct formula, no gold standard. Resolve to put a predetermined amount of time, effort, and money into email marketing and see what happens. Next, make some changes and see if your ROI goes up or down. It’s a process, but it’s not exactly a guessing game.
Find Extra Money for Your Marketing Budget
One great way sole proprietors and small businesses can save money to funnel to their advertising budget is by using shared office space. Shared executive office space is a money saver because you can rent your space for a short time, rather than signing a long-term lease. Even better, everything you need is right there waiting for you: furniture, supplies, support staff, and more.