How to Make EDMs Work Harder for Your Small Business

EDMs for Small Businesses

An engaging EDM can be a potent way to foster brand awareness and convert it to higher turnover.

There was a time when email newsletters were written off as old-fashioned but EDMs (electronic direct mail) have bounced back onto marketing’s centre stage as one of the most powerful customer engagement tools at a company’s disposal. Last year, global email marketing company Litmus reported research showing an average $36 return for every $1 spent on email marketing.

At Designer Rugs, makers of luxurious floor candy, marketing manager Madeline Briggs says each EDM she sends out – one every fortnight to interior designers and commercial clients, another to residential customers – results in 10 to 15 sales leads. That’s people requesting a call back or coming into one of its showrooms in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. “For a high-value product like ours, that’s a great payoff.”

Hobart’s Farm Gate Market, a Sunday-morning cornucopia of vendors, has about 3000 subscribers to its e-newsletter. Proprietor and founder Madi Peattie, who runs Peattie Events, says that her topical weekly email bulletins are an opportunity to share producers’ stories. “This week’s EDM is about Endangered Distilling Co., which makes spirits from bread that would’ve been thrown out. You may not get that story when you pass a stall and see their product.”

The metric to chase with your EDM is the click-through rate (CTR), which measures not only whether the recipient has opened your email but whether they’ve clicked through on one or more calls to action, such as “Read more”, “Request a quote”, “Shop now” and “Contact us”.

Both Designer Rugs and Farm Gate Market use MailChimp, which is free at their level of usage, to create and distribute e-newsletters. Other platforms, such as HubSpot, Drip and Constant Contact, offer more features and services for a price.

Peattie has collected email addresses with pen and paper since Farm Gate Market started 13 years ago. “We also do posts on social media: ‘Have you signed up to our e-flyer? You’ll find out what’s in season each week and who’s going to be at the market.’ And there’s a link to sign up from our website.”

What makes an effective EDM?

1. An enticing, concise subject line. To avoid the bin, EDM subject lines should clearly tout something your recipient wants. At Farm Gate Market in spring it might be “Daffodils now in season + Trophy doughnuts return.”

2. Content worth reading. Peattie lists the vendors attending that week so customers can plan their shopping lists and she also adds content. It might be a stallholder’s backstory or a chat on a particular theme, such as its aim to become Australia’s first plastic-free farmers’ market. Similarly, Designer Rugs introduces subscribers to its collaborators, like costume and set designer Catherine Martin. It also gives advice on styling rugs in the home, retail and corporate spaces and features case studies of custom-design projects, while softly selling.

3. Images that communicate your brand vibe. A few times a year, both Peattie Events and Designer Rugs hire professional photographers to take images for the companies’ e-newsletters, websites and social media.

4. Design that reflects your brand. Your EDM’s style should communicate your company’s values and aesthetic. The go-to for layout tips, inspiration and templates is Canva, a free online graphic design and publishing tool.

5. Community-building content. If your e-newsletter provides useful or “insider” information that makes the recipients feel they’re part of a defined community, it stands an even better chance of being well-received and generating revenue.

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