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Small Businesses Succeed with E-mail Marketing

These 3 entrepreneurs used e-newsletters for a cheaper, faster and more effective marketing campaign.

I love hearing inspirational stories of business owners who are successfully running and growing their companies. I also enjoy learning how e-mail marketing helps them succeed. This month, I'm shining the spotlight on three very different businesses that are each putting e-mail marketing best practices to work and getting great results.

Strengthen customer relationships
Desiree Scales is founder and CEO of Georgia-based company Bella Web Design. She offers logo development, web and blog design, web hosting, copywriting, search engine optimization and e-mail marketing.

Several years ago, Scales began using e-mail marketing to stay in touch with her clients and draw new business. As a web designer, Scales believes that design is important.

"We live in a visual society where aesthetics are everything," she says. Scales' e-mails not only look great, but also have interesting and useful content, including information about the latest technologies, web tips, introductions of Bella's new clients and industry trends.

"My clients love the web tips and news about what's going on in the industry," Scales says. "They trust me to tell them."

By offering her customers something of value, Scales strengthens her relationships with them so that they will remember Bella when they (or someone they know) need the services they offer. Another plus: She's saving money by using e-mail instead of direct mail.

"We've gotten more calls for web design than we ever have before," Scales says. "Every time I hit the 'send' button, it saves me 42 cents times the 249 e-mails on my list."

Online retailer boosts sales
Lisa Timon used to shop at Create My Keepsake (CMK), an online retailer of scrapbooking supplies. She liked the business so much that she bought it.

As Timon works to take CMK to the next level, one of the challenges she faces is staying in front and providing customers with the top-notch supplies.

Timon describes it like this: "In scrapbooking, there are new products coming out all the time. To stay competitive, I need to keep my customer base informed of new arrivals; otherwise, they might go elsewhere."

Along with the business, Timon inherited a successful e-mail marketing program that she relies on to get her message out. She sends a monthly newsletter, The Chronicle, that lets customers and prospective customers know about sales, promotions, industry news, tips and, of course, new products.

Timon also uses e-mail marketing to increase sales of CMK's scrapbooking kit memberships, which allow members to get advanced discounts and access to paper kits and supplies.

According to Timon, using e-mail marketing to promote kit memberships has paid off. Within just a few months of promotions, Timon says she's doubled the number of new customers.

High coupon redemption rate with e-mail
The Fajita Grill restaurants of Oswego and Syracuse, New York serve up quality Southwestern food, fast. The concept was born out of owners Josh Molinari and Anthony Green's longing for fresh fast food when they were in college at Rochester Technical Institute.

They started using e-mail marketing when they opened their second restaurant in Oswego. When they first began, their e-mail list was just under 500. In less than three years, they've grown it to 3,250.

Abby Weaver, the company's marketing director, has found better results with e-mail marketing than with traditional options such as print ads and direct mail.

"I can't believe the number of people who are actually walking into our restaurants and redeeming the coupons," Weaver says. "The e-mail coupons are being printed and brought in daily and people are fighting to get on my e-mail subscription list."

Gail Goodman is the author of Engagement Marketing: How Small Business Wins In a Socially Connected World (Wiley, 2012) and CEO of Waltham, Mass.-based Constant Contact Inc., a provider of email marketing, event marketing, social media marketing, local deal and online survey tools and services for small businesses, associations and nonprofits.

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