Local small business CEOs are considering a common question right now. How do I bring my business back to life?

Most have started the process, trying to follow the phase-in of opening a business. But many are frustrated with the slowness of the process as they follow the guidelines while trying to stay alive financially.

In my current series of columns, I have been focusing on tools to help local businesses in this process. Most recently we have focused on how your current and new potential customers find you. I suggested that if you have a website, review it for the key main pages and make sure that you are answering their key question. If you do not have a website, create a simple one. I suggest that you try a service like Constant Contact to get this done in minutes!

Now, let me remind you of a very valuable tool that will help you tie your website to your current and potential customers: Email marketing. It’s how you drive business.

Why is email marketing important? Simply, because it works. Email is still ranked as one of the most effective marketing channels according to Ascend2’s 2019 Digital Marketing Strategies Survey Summary Report.

Like your website, email marketing also creates an asset you own. The contacts on your list are yours. And if you’re doing it right, those are people who have said, “Yes, I want you to market to me.”

Email marketing also allows you to automate much of the communication so the emails your contacts receive feel timely and relevant. Automation assures you get the right messages to the right people at the right time.

When someone signs up to receive your emails, they are actively demonstrating interest in you and your business. Take advantage of this time when a new contact is highly engaged and automate a couple of emails to continue the conversation. Whether they sign up today or a week from today, they won’t have to wait for you to manually send an email to hear from you.

Professionals with expertise in this area suggest you include two emails in your automated welcome series.

Welcome series email # 1 (greetings): Send this welcome email immediately after someone signs up. Deliver what was promised, welcome your new subscribers, and reiterate what they should expect in the future.

Welcome series email # 2 (invitation to connect): Send this email a few days after your welcome email. Let your new contacts know of the other ways they can engage with you — this will most likely be on your social channels — so invite them to connect with you. This email is important, because once your subscribers connect with you in other locations, you have multiple ways to engage and stay top of mind. And, if your subscribers engage with you on these public forums, your business gets exposed to their connections, who are likely also to make excellent prospects for your business.

Now plan your ongoing communications. Professionals suggest that you send one email at least once a month thereafter. Remember to keep your business “top of mind” in the eyes of your current and potential customers.

Consistency is key in any form of marketing. Write down the potential opportunities you have to reach out to your email contacts. These opportunities could be national holidays, events specific to your business, or even those made-up marketing holidays. Share a combination of helpful resources and promotional emails to provide the most value to your contacts.

In conclusion, here are some important action steps:

  • Set up a simple, automated welcome series.
  • Plan to send an email at least once a month.
  • Think about other emails you might want to automate.
  • In the future, you can get more advanced with automation by sending emails triggered by actions taken by your contacts, like opening an email, clicking on a link, or joining a list.

This is how you drive your business! Do not forget to ask for help from a SCORE Mentor.

Dean Swanson is a volunteer Certified SCORE Mentor and former SCORE chapter chairman, district director and regional vice president for the North West Region.