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What Clients Ask Us: How Do Small Brands & Large Brands Approach Email Marketing Differently?

By Cory Smith, Head of Email, Metric Digital

Today we’ll be continuing to tap into our subject matter experts to answer common questions that our clients ask us.

If you’ve missed the past few posts in this series, here are the questions we’ve already answered:

And now onto today’s question:

How do small brands & large brands approach email marketing differently?

The more people you have to send email to, the more opportunity you have to do granular things with the list. If you have a 1,000 subscribers versus 100,000  subscribers, your approach will be quite different.

That’s the main thing about email marketing for larger companies. The greatest advantage is testing. You are affording a significant test with a bigger audience.

Imagine you have 1,000 subscribers versus 100,000 subscribers. The payout is going to be a lot higher for 100,000 that is going to be for a 1,000.

The questions you have to ask are: 

  1. What is our effort in, versus product out? 
  2. Will the result correspond to scale, or will there be a point of diminishing returns?

For example, email personalization is a powerful strategy. Everything from greeting customers by name to meeting their individual needs to launching abandoned cart messages with custom product recommendations, it will add value and grow revenues. 

And so, if a larger brand wants to introduce more personalization in their email programs, and has the time, the budget and a significant data set to do so, then it will likely net a much higher conversion rate. A smaller brand can also do this, but the incremental results may not make the effort as worthwhile.

Switching gears, let’s talk about smaller organizations.

When you're just starting and have a smaller audience, say only 2,000 people and a low budget, it’s different. In that case, the brand will want to focus on growth:

Those tasks are the priority. Because if you can’t email people, they’re less likely to make a purchase. Period.

Growth stage brands with smaller lists must engage people with the right cadence. And people are certainly going to unsubscribe every time you send a email. But when you’re small, every email you send carries more weight. Which means every unsubscribe hurts a little bit more. Every piece of email you send probably carries a little more clout when you have fewer people on your list.

That said, you still have to send it.

If not, you’re competing less often in the customer’s inbox with all these brands who are sending tons of email. And you also have a higher likelihood of users becoming disengaged, and then your emails ultimately going to spam. In that case, it's not worth it to send any email at all. It’s a downward spiral.

Also as a small company, those people who were your first customers, you will rely heavily on them for referrals and to be your advocates. If not many people have your product in hand, it’s really important that everyone who does have it loves it and will tell other people about it. 

If your company is at that point, you will want to set up a referral program. And while referrals don't typically provide a huge amount of return on investment, it’s still one thing small brands can do to turn those early adopters into advocates, and as the program grows, the ROI will come with it.

As a small brand, if you don’t see a return on that strategy, then that it might be a time for you to maintain the status quo for now. And when your company has the data to support a more robust personalization program, you can ramp up at that time.

# # #

I remember in the beginning of the email marketing years, it was really hard to send an email to a 100,000 people. And now it's a lot easier and cheaper.

But brands of all sizes, beware:

Just because it’s easy doesn't mean that the people who are doing it know what they're doing.

Think of it this way: In 1985, most cars had 100 horsepower. Today the average is 250, but people aren't better drivers now than they were in the eighties. But they're tasked with handling a lot more car.

Whether you’re a large, established organization, or an upstart brand in the growth stage, make sure your email strategy is commensurate with your company’s size.

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Cory Smith Head of Email The Metric Digital Blog A Blog on All Things Digital Marketing