Small business owners spend a lot of time and money marketing their products and services to prospective customers. Those small business marketing efforts span a range of tactics and platforms including, for example, social media sites, Google Adwords pay-per-click campaigns, and SEO optimization to drive website traffic.
But you may be missing out on your largest media channel for growing both your customer base and your bottom line: everyday business email. How many business emails do you and your employees send every day and over the course of a year? Every one of them is a missed marketing opportunity according to Nick Lissette, CEO and founder of Black Pearl Mail, a New Zealand-based email branding-management company.
Email as a Media Channel
Consider this finding from the Radicati Group's Email Statistics Report (PDF):
Email remains the predominant form of communication in the business space. This trend is expected to continue, and business email will account for over 132 billion emails sent and received per day by the end of 2017.
Black Pearl Mail (BPM) claims that business employees each send, on average, more than 10,250 email per year. Lissette maintains that although business email is "owned media" (a channel over which business owners maintain control), it remains an underutilized, untapped marketing opportunity.
"Small businesses communicate primarily by email, and yet it goes unbranded or poorly branded," says Lissette. "You're most effective communication channel should be your most-branded," he contends.
A Black Pearl Mail signature remains a consistent look across devices. Seen here on the iPhone.
Branding Business Email
A plug-in for your existing email platform, BPM supports Gmail, Google Apps for Work, Office 365, Exchange, IMAP, POP, and Lotus. BPM "provides a consistent look to your email to anyone who opens it," said Lissette. "It doesn’t matter which email platform they're on or what device they use to view it."
The service consists of three main components: email signatures, central management, and analytics.
Email signature builder
The email signature builder lets you create consistent email signatures and branding for your business. You can upload your company logo, add banners and footers, and include promotional links to drive traffic to your website or social media pages.
"You can add anything to the top of an email: a promotion, a YouTube video—any content relating to your website." said Lissette. For example, the email signature of one BPM customer, a bank in this case, contained the logo in the left-hand corner and a banner listing the latest interest rate.
"Once you start branding your email, it does amazing things for your business," said Lissette. Another customer, a glazier by trade, sent 100 emails that included a promotional banner. "Out of those 100 emails, 48 people clicked on the promotion," Lissette claimed.
A Black Pearl Mail signature as seen on a tablet.
The BPM central management console operates primarily in the cloud, although Lissette said it's also available as an on-premises version for companies that require it. The console lets you create and assign email signatures to your employees, which helps to keep your company's branding consistent. You can assign individual signatures, create signatures for specific groups within your organization, or simply assign one signature company-wide if you desire.
Lissette said that small business owners can make changes to any or all signatures from the Web-based console. This, he added, keeps company messaging consistent, relevant, and up-to-date.
You have direct control over your email until you click "send." BPM's analytics capability changes that by letting you gauge email effectiveness. "You can see when a recipient opens an email without requiring a "read receipt," said Lissette, a capability he calls mission critical.
The analytics capability also generates reports on which links recipients click, which lets small business owners and marketers see which promotions or content resonate with potential customers and make adjustments accordingly.
Small Business Benefits
Not surprisingly, Lissette claims that any company that uses email can benefit from Black Pearl Mail. It turns everyday business email into a lead-gen opportunity. "Traditional email marketing campaigns [think VerticalResponse or MailChimp] have relatively low click-through rates," said Lissette. "People filter for them, and they become optional reading."
The company's website claims that, "With good content customers can expect a click-through rate of higher than 5 percent with external emails." If click-through is as high as BPM claims [Editorial note: it's a big if, and we have not yet tested this claim], a small business owner might reasonably expect more traffic to his or her website and social media pages.
Black Pearl Mail Pricing
Black Pearl Mail costs a minimum of $15 per month (that includes up to 15 people). The company charges an additional 1$ per month per person after that.
Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com. Follow her on Twitter.
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