Your best chance of getting a sale is by marketing to your existing customers and prospects. 

"In marketing I've seen only one strategy that can't miss - and that is to market to your best customers first, your best prospects second and the rest of the world last." - John Romero

The above quote is as true for online marketing as it is in the offline world. Your best chance of getting a sale is by marketing to your existing customers and prospects.

Online communications can be very cost-effective as an alternative to traditional communication channels such as post. If you want your customers and prospects to re-visit to your website, engage with you there, and hopefully buy from you online, it makes good sense to communicate with them via a regular online broadcast.

Sales emails or newsletters?

Promotional emails are much more about sales, they tend to be product or offer focused. And newsletters are more about keeping in touch, delivering news and information.

It depends on your business and your customer base which you choose. You can use a combination too. If you’re a service or information provider, with a website that doesn’t actually sell directly, you’ll probably find a newsletter works well.

There's plenty of good reasons to communicate with your customers and prospects by email.

  • New products and services
    Tell your customers and prospects when you develop and launch a new product. Make them feel special by telling them before you tell the rest of the world. Ask their opinion on your new products – it'll encourage them to buy, make them feel valued and give you valuable feedback.
     
  • Special offers
    Running special offers and promotions for your customers is another good way to boost your sales and help build a relationship. Tell your customers by email, because they’re the ones most likely to respond.
     
  • Competitions or give-aways
    These are a good way to get people to visit your website. You could offer a competition entry or give-away as a reward for buying a particular product, or signing up for something, or taking part in a questionnaire.
     
  • Seasonality
    Think of occasions throughout the year when your database might be more interested in your products & services than usual, and send out emails in advance. Dates like Christmas, New Year and Easter, Mothers’ and Fathers’ Days etc. Keep track of the school holidays if you’re in the tourist industry.
     
  • Awards
    Tell your customers if you win a business or industry award – it’s a good way of reinforcing to them that they’ve made the right decision to be a customer of yours, and build trust and brand loyalty.
     
  • News
    If there’s something in the news that would interest or affect your customers, let them know about it. Consider yourself an expert in your industry - you’ve got your finger on the pulse, and you can update your customers whenever something happens that would concern them. It's a good way to demonstrate your expertise and build trust.
     
  • Events
    If you’re taking part in an event such as an industry expo or trade fair, let your customers know you’ll be there.
     
  • Hints and tips
    Add value by giving your customers free hints and tips, insider knowledge and articles that would be useful to them. It's another way to demonstrate your expertise.

Newsletters which work well are ones which are enjoyable to read, and add value to what you do. Newsletters should be quarterly at a minimum to be effective. Studies have shown that newsletters which are less frequent aren’t remembered by the recipients.

Your email must be of 'value' to the recipient. A good email is one where your customer feels that they have received something almost tangible that they can start to action.

How often to broadcast?

How often you send out emails depends very much on your audience, as well as on your time and budget constraints.

The most important thing to remember is that the frequency of your broadcasts should be regular enough that the recipients don’t forget who you are, but not so regular that they become a nuisance.

If someone signs up for your email newsletter and doesn’t receive anything for 3 months, they’re very unlikely to remember ever having signed up for your emails, and will probably delete them without a second thought.

On the other hand, if they sign up for your emails expecting to receive weekly or monthly updates, and you email them daily, they’re highly likely to unsubscribe, or block your emails altogether.

Tell people when they sign up how often to expect your emails.

How to measure your online broadcasts

As with any form of marketing, emails and newsletters work best when they’re being measured, with the goal being constant improvement to deliver better results.

Emails can be difficult to measure unless you’re using specialist email delivery solutions with analytics included e.g. Mailchimp. It’s also difficult to measure the effectiveness of newsletters, which are more of a ‘soft touch’, rather than a ‘hard sell’, and won’t necessarily always have a call to action for you to measure.

Good luck! If you have questions about anything mentioned above, just ask.