Why Social Media Can Be the Best Friend of Local Businesses

| August 9, 2010 | 0 Comments

By Phyllis Zimbler Miller

Social media can be the best friend of local businesses because having an active online presence can give local businesses an advantage over large national chains.

Let’s take an imaginary example:

Suppose you run a high-end dress boutique in an affluent neighborhood.  Your target market is close by, but so is Neiman-Marcus, which carries much of the same merchandise that you carry.

How do you keep top of mind with your target market when you have a very small (if any) advertising budget (and how big is Neiman-Marcus’ advertising budget)?

One very effective (and low-cost) way to do this is to use what’s called permission-based email marketing to send out special announcements for your customers.

Here’s how this works:

Your store offers on your website or on your Facebook (business) page (using the FBML application) a free gift in exchange for a person’s email address.  The gift may be, for example, a discount coupon or an invitation to a special preview of the season’s new fashions.

By the person voluntarily providing her email address, she has given you permission to use the email address.

Now it’s important to use an email marketing service because these services have several advantages.

One advantage is that a person who has given you her email address is given an unsubscribe option at the bottom of each email received from you.  This way, if someone chooses to unsubscribe, you won’t be creating a negative rather than a positive impression by continuing to sending emails that the person no longer wishes to receive.

A second advantage is that email marketing services are set up to help your emails get through the spam filters.  This is obviously a very good thing because you do want your emails to get to the people who have “opted in” to get emails from you.

The email marketing services also allow you to do such things as include the person’s first name in each email received.  And there are numerous other advantages to using a service rather than using your own email database.

If you’d like to see how this system works from the perspective of the email recipient, download the free report “Twitter, Facebook and Your Website: A Beginning Blueprint for Harnessing the Power of 3 for Your Business” at www.MillerMosaicPowerof3.com

This is actually an example of a double email opt-in system in which the person providing her email address then confirms that she did indeed provide her email address.  She does this by clicking on the link provided in an email automatically sent out after she “opts in.”

By sending out emails that keep up the connection with your customers, you can stay top of mind with them.  And if you combine these emails with good customer service offers, you can definitely create your own raving fans.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the social media marketing company Miller Mosaic Power Marketing.

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