Think Big, Act Small Interview: Lean Email Marketing for Startups

Welcome to the (first) Think Big, Act Small virtual interview, part of what we hope to be a long trail of easy read, easy-to-execute resources via interviews from leading experts in the startup community.

Today’s topic is email marketing - one of the longest standing (and effective) digital communication tools for smart marketers. Our honorary interviewee is , in-of-itself a legacy within the startup community, having pioneered email alongside the likes of Exact Target, Vertical Response, and StrongMail.

Besides being a pioneer, Constant Contact is an innovator that continuously provides practical, relevant and affordable email marketing. Read on for real-world insights on lean email marketing tactics that drive turnkey results for startups.

Interviewer: Michelle Fitzgerald
Interviewee: Ron Cates


Get Scrappy:
Constant Contact is well known within the industry as a SMB marketing go-to solution. Can you explain what about your service has best lent itself to become a de facto resource for lean startup/SMB marketers?

Constant Contact:
We create powerful tools that are very easy to use and are highly affordable. We also have significant know-how, which we share for free via our award-winning support, coaching, and live training.


Get Scrappy:
Social CRM has grown up over the last year. First, could you provide Constant Contact’s definition of Social CRM? And second, how have you made Social CRM accessible to smaller clients (SMB)?

Constant Contact:
When speaking at social media conferences, I’m amazed at how complicated people try to make, “Social,” sound. We’ve tried to demystify, “Social CRM,” and, “Social,” in general, so that small businesses can engage with customers and prospects in a way that works for them. We like talking about it as, “Engagement Marketing,” because it presents Social CRM in a way that immediately resonates with a small business owner. Engaging with customers and prospects leads to stronger relationships. Stronger relationships lead to more business and more referrals.

We’ve developed tools (email marketing, social campaigns, web-based survey, event marketing, social monitoring) that are integrated, easy-to-use, and work together to produce incredible results, and are here to help coach small businesses use them most effectively.


Get Scrappy:

A key part of email marketing is content development. For SMBs, time to create content for emails (newsletters, promotions) is incredibly challenging. How does Constant deal with this to make the design and copy writing aspect as turnkey as possible?

Constant Contact:
We’ve developed hundreds of professionally designed templates, and we’ve made it “one-click easy” to add content to those templates. We offer free coaching, support, live seminars (across the U.S., U.K., and Canada), and webinars 24/7 that show how to develop compelling content. We’ve made it simple to add blog content to your email, or video content to your email, and we’ll give you examples of what works best for your type of business.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed about content, keep in mind that every business and organization has one advantage: industry expertise. Customers and clients are looking to your social media channels and your email newsletters for news and advice specific to that industry. Another solution is content curation, where you “collect” and share someone else’s content but also add your own perspective. The trick is to maintain a balance between original content and curated content. You want your expertise and voice to shine through each Facebook post, tweet, and email newsletter so that customers, fans, and prospects understand what the organization is about, while learning something new at the same time.


Get Scrappy:
Good marketing is designed to continuously learn and iterate on.  For lean startups, how do you suggest leveraging Constant Contact’s reporting tools to learn and continuously optimize email efforts?

Constant Contact:
Essentially, we track and report on everything about an email that can be tracked. Further, we’ve made it easy to share email via social, and report on that, as well. With a 5 minute results scan, you can see which articles were clicked on the most, what was shared via social, and which social platforms were most utilized for sharing. We’ll even send you a recap via email, if you like, or you can track the results on a mobile app for your smartphone.


Get Scrappy:
Based on what you see trending in email marketing, what will you specifically be exploring or building out in 2012 to provide more turnkey messaging tools for startups?

Constant Contact:
At Constant Contact, we try very hard to make marketing affordable , effective and easy for our small business and nonprofit customers.

 Over the years, we have evolved from being “just an email marketing company” to a company that offers an integrated suite of online marketing tools for small businesses and nonprofits. Today, that includes email marketing, social media marketing, event management, online surveys, and daily deals products, all built with the small businesses in mind. Social Campaigns, our social media product, and SaveLocal, our daily deals product, are our most recent additions, but we are continuing to enhance and evolve our products to make small business marketing even easier and more effective.

To start using Constant Contact for your small business, please .

About Ron Cates
Ron Cates is Director of New Market Development for Constant Contact. An award-winning business leader, Ron has developed a broad range of solutions for marketing professionals, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations; helping strengthen their customer and donor relationships. Ron is a popular speaker and educator on topics including developing email marketing strategies, designing effective email communications, and maintaining powerful customer relationships. Connect with Ron Cates on .


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About Michelle Fitzgerald

Michelle Fitzgerald is a digital marketing expert with over ten years of experience within high-tech start-ups and F500s. Michelle’s past work experience includes Zinio, Yahoo!, LA Times and CareerBuilder. Specific areas of expertise include transmedia on smartphone, tablet and pc, social media, online content, B2C/B2B messaging strategy and big data. Michelle’s also a self-published author of Get Scrappy, speaks at industry events and consults within the SMB community.

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