Whoever tells you that the economy is recovering, inflation isn’t that bad, or the government will fix everything is either completely oblivious or trying to sell you something.
I’m not a financial advisor and don’t resemble anything close to an economist, but it doesn’t take a college degree to see that the economy isn’t turning around anytime soon, inflation is progressively getting worse, and nobody, especially those in government, are coming to save you or your business.
It may be scary to hear and I may come off rough, but this is objective reality and it has to be said; you are responsible for the survival of your business in the coming months and years.
I’m not saying email is the one thing that will save your brand during a recession, I respect your intelligence and my reputation, but it’s clear that focusing on a low cost, high return channel that maintains a direct line of communication with your customers is one of the greatest assets your business can have to weather the storm we’re already in.
5. Low Cost, High Return
Whenever I hear somebody pitching anything to me and the words “low cost high return” come out of their mouth, my trust in them drops about 80%. I get it. I too suffer from being subjected to endless suggestions of “marketing hacks” that I have no interest in, so I won’t try to dazzle you with my anecdotal experiences with email. Instead, here’s some data comparing ROI (another term that makes me grit my teeth) of various channels to email.
According to Google, it’s estimated that businesses on average make $2 for every $1 spent on Google Ads. (2022)
Pinterest ads also have a return of $2 for every $1 spent according to Dollar Sprout. (2022)
Scube Marketing estimates that businesses make $2.52 for every $1 spent on Facebook ads. (2022)
Twitter claims that advertisers make $2.70 for every $1 spent on Twitter ads. (2022)
Finally, Litmus and ConstantContact estimate that businesses make $36 for every $1 spent on email marketing in 2022.
It may sound too good to be true, and to be honest, it is and it isn’t. You can’t just set up basic automations and blast your subscribers with coupon codes in image heavy emails three times a day without any additional investment in paid advertising and expect this sort of return.
But when email marketing is done correctly and paired with excellent paid digital advertising, getting $36 back for every $1 you put in is a very conservative estimate.
4. Reliable and Direct Line of Communication with Customers
Paying social media giants to advertise your brand to their audience is an extremely valuable tool and is vital for a successful email marketing strategy, but the certainty that your customers will see your ads is impossible to determine and the reach of organic posts is abysmal.
Businesses need to be absolutely certain that their messages are reaching their customers during economic hardships, and if done correctly, email marketing is a surefire way to do so.
Not only that, but the data from ESPs can confirm that your message is indeed reaching your target audience while also providing detailed, accurate insight as to how your audience responds to your message.
In other words, social media and other forms of paid advertising are crucial to acquire new customers while email is equally important to reliably and effectively communicate with your customers.
3. Consumers Stick to Familiar Brands
Human beings are creatures of habit with the tendency of turning to what is familiar when under extreme stress or pressure. We’ve all experienced it; eating your feelings through a tub of ice cream after a breakup, calling a loved one after a bad day, driving out to the same spot to clear your mind, the list goes on.
Just like us, consumers also turn to familiar comforts when under substantial financial stress, and your brand could be viewed as a familiar comfort. There’s nothing easy about marketing in a recession, but using email to build brand loyalty is an easy win in this scenario.
Another interesting behavior that speaks to this point is when money gets tight, the potential reward of your customers trying a product similar to yours from an unfamiliar brand is not worth the risk that the unfamiliar brand has a subpar product so long as your brand is established as trustworthy and you’re proactively communicating with them.
Conversely, if you decide to ignore email while your competitors fully embrace it, you’re handing over low-hanging fruit on a silver platter while ignoring that it was ripe.
2. Nurtures Emotional Connection
Aside from flocking to what is familiar, you and your customers both share the need for emotional connection when under duress. The fact that you are a human being with the capacity to speak to your customers as such is an incredibly valuable yet criminally overlooked aspect of email marketing. Very few other channels of customer engagement provide this opportunity.
Sure, discounts can work, but if done every week or month, sales quickly lose the ability to convert and overshadow any emotional tone.
Short email copy focused on scarcity and urgency does have its advantages, but can easily backfire while customers are already locked into a scarcity mindset every minute of every day.
It’s easy to forget that your business is fundamentally the same as a farmstand in a small town. While ecom shops have the advantage of a wider reach, the farmstand has face to face connection. Although sending an email can never provide that unique advantage, it does present the opportunity to replicate that emotional connection if written in a conversational, down to Earth, human manner. This is something that not many other businesses do and can seriously set you apart.
1. Test New Products and Deals Before Investing in Paid
Many of the previous points focused mainly on how you can utilize email to retain existing customers, so I’d like to end this by highlighting how this versatile channel can also be used to efficiently acquire new customers.
You’re no different than anybody else in an economic downturn. Before investing in something, you have to have a high level of certainty that it will yield a return.
It goes without saying that your capital must be used wisely in times like this, so before dumping hundreds or thousands of dollars on advertising an offer on Facebook, first send the offer as a handful of email campaigns. The data is more reliable, the cost is negligible when compared to paid advertising, and you’re already paying the monthly ESP subscription anyways – use it. Doing so could save you capital, frustration, and regret.
The tragedy of owning an online shop is how easy it is to forget that all of the data we analyze, orders we track, and sales we count all come from people with experiences not much different than our own.
We’re all trying to cut costs, wanting to talk to other people, turning to what’s familiar, craving emotional connection, and doing our best to spend wisely. Keep that in mind in the months to come, continue providing the very best product or service you can, and take full advantage of the incredible opportunities of email marketing.
The risk is low, the reward is high, and the value you’ll bring to your customers will come back tenfold.
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