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I got my first email account in 1996… and I’ve been in love with email ever since.

Who knows exactly how many emails I received over the last almost 20 years… 500,000… a million… more…  however much it is, I still love getting them.

I’m an emailaholic…. and I’m not alone in this.

It seems that, according to Forbes, the average mail user gets 147 mails a day… Times have changed.  No wonder you don’t hear the old “you’ve got mail” coming from your computer nowadays… hearing it 147 times a day might reduce it’s “novelty” factor a bit.

…and yet email is still a huge industry… and continues to be grow.  iContact stated that 56% of businesses are planning to do more email marketing in the coming year… (I guess we’ll be well over 150 emails a day soon…)

So why has email become such an effective communication tool? Why is it still much more effective than social media (McKinsey says email is 40% better at customer recruitment than social media), despite the millions spent on Facebook and Twitter?… Bottom line is…

Email Works

… or it can work… if you do it well.

See, the problem with 147 emails on average winging their way into your inbox… is how do you decide if they’re worth reading or not? It’s not like we’ve got less to do nowadays that allows us the time to read every single email… We’re still as busy as ever, if not more so…

…or more to the point.  As a business looking to use email to communicate and engage with customers with a view of (let’s be honest) selling more stuff, how do you compete with the fact that everyone gets too much email?  Out of 147 messages… what makes your email better than all the rest?

Sending Email is NOT Marketing

I’ve been involved in marketing pretty much my entire life, and one thing that I realised very early on is that despite all the long words and big bravado, marketing is pretty simple… it’s all about being relevant.

It’s about relating directly to an individual, communicating with them in a way that makes them feel like they’re the only person you’re speaking to, giving them information that they are going to be interested in and making it easy for them to say yes.

This idea of relevance is fundamental to marketing, but it’s something that people easily forget, they get so wrapped up in the medium (email, video, tv, radio, internet, social media) that they forget to make things personal and relevant.

Sending a mass email with the same content to everyone you know is not marketing (it’s SPAMMING just in case you didn’t realise!). So just because you’ve got an email account and use it to communicate, does not make you a marketeer.

Knowing Me, Knowing You

Being relevant, necessitates two things: focus and knowledge.

Focus because you can’t be relevant to everyone.  In fact you can’t deal with everyone.  It’s impossible.  Every business needs to clearly know who their target market is… if you don’t you’ll end up being bland, boring and irrelevant.

Knowledge because once you’ve got a target, you need to know about them and what makes them tick… and why they should buy from you.

A combination of focus and knowledge leads to the ability to be relevant… and this leads to successful marketing…

…well almost…

There is Seeing… and There is Doing

Just because you’ve got a target market and you know about them is not enough.  You’ve got to actually use this information to communicate to people… and use it again and again.

Do you know that the biggest failure when it comes to marketing communication that most small businesses suffer from is not understanding the difference between communicating once and communicating many times.

Doing it once is all well and good but when it comes down to it, you need a process or a system to actually see results on an ongoing basis.

One of the great things about technology today is that it allows you as a small business owner to not only communicate once but also to set up automated communication using the information you have about your customers to create a truly hands off process.  You don’t need to be stuck to the computer every day of the week… you want to set it and forget it.

Combining the ability to send unique messages to individuals in an automated manner without you having to do anything once it’s set up, is the hallmark of successful email marketing today.  

And the technology that is needed to do this is well within the reach of every small business, in fact with an expenditure of under £10 a month you can do all of this right now… And that’s why I love MailChimp.

Mastering MailChimp

MailChimp is one of a number of systems specifically designed for small businesses that can help them over come some of the challenges they face when it comes to marketing.

These systems allow you to capture and store information about prospects and customers… and then use that information in an automated manner to develop effective, slick communication systems using email.

Now I am not saying that MailChimp is the only tool that you can use to do all of these things, in fact over the last few years many new email marketing services have been developed with small businesses in mind.

I use MailChimp because it is robust,  it has been around for a long time, it works well with other systems and it’s fun to use.  It may not be the ultimate system out there, but it is extremely effective, extremely competitively priced, and I know how to use it.

What You’re Gonna Get

OK… so that’s what MailChimp Answers is all about…  It’s combining the many years of marketing experience I’ve built up, along with an understanding of relevant technology to help businesses like you get more from their email marketing.

It’s about helping you to focus and personalise your email communication so that people get receive messages relevant to them… and it’s about using the technology available to do this.  Plain and simple…

I see Email Marketing as the spine of the marketing communication for any modern business. Everything else should revolve around your database… and support/help it grow.

Remember, your database is the one resource that you’ll always have… treat it well and it’ll treat you well… but a database is only as good as the data it contains and the communication it stimulates.

So you’ll get some useful nuggets on marketing here, a whole lot of MailChimp (not just what you should do – there are lots of places that do that… but how you should do it)… some advice and tips on email marketing as a whole… and some insights into small business marketing… all with a flavour of email.

So keep an eye out for future communication…  and of course, let me know what you think.