Marketing

7 Ways Email Marketing Can Boost Your CNC Shop’s Profitability

August 13, 2013

describe the imageSome CNC machine shops don’t think about looking for more business until the pipeline of orders begins to run dry. Unfortunately, this approach leads to periods when work is no longer flowing through the shop and overhead, payroll and operating costs spiral out of proportion to income. That’s why every business needs to continuously promote its products and services. One of the most cost-effective ways to do this is through email marketing.

If your impression of email marketing is based on an understandable distaste for the unwanted junk (spam) that finds its way into your email inbox, you probably don’t believe it can be effective for your shop. The truth is that email marketing done properly is a powerful tool for generating business. That’s why billions of marketing emails are generated by virtually every company of note.

Here’s what you need to know to make email marketing work for you:

  1. The list: If you aren’t getting your message in front of people who care about what you offer, you’re wasting your time. Your email list should consist of (a) current customers, (b) non-customers who have expressed an interest in your work (at trade shows, through RFPs, etc.) and (c) companies that match the profile of your desired and current customers.
  2. Prioritizing: When building your list, start with your current customers. They are your best source of future business, so you want to keep in touch with them, introduce them to capabilities they may not know about, and position your shop as a helpful, knowledgeable resource. Companies that have expressed an interest but are not yet customers are your next best target. Finally, you can identify potential customers who look like your current customers through directories and other sources.
  3. Opt-in only: Sending out mass emails is a huge waste of time, annoys the recipients, and hurts your reputation. The proper way to build your list is to get your audience to sign up for your emails. You can do this in a variety of ways including providing a subscription window on your website, signing people up at trade shows, sending solicitations through the postal service, and via email — provided you follow the rules.
  4. Building your list via email: Because you have an existing business relationship with your customers, it’s perfectly OK to send them promotional emails, so long as you give them the opportunity to opt-out of receiving future messages. When soliciting non-customers via email, you need to make it clear that you will not continue to send them unwanted emails, but are inviting them to sign up for future messages that you think they will find valuable. Under the federal government’s CAN-SPAM act, your emails must include (a) a legitimate “from” line, (b) a truthful subject line, (c) a legitimate physical address for your company, and an easily identifiable and operative unsubscribe option.
  5. Content: The most effective emails provide valuable information for the reader. For example, a newsletter that includes useful technical tips, informs about new capabilities or technologies, or offers a white paper helps build your reputation as an expert in your field. Other strong content includes: invitations to events, special offers, case studies that demonstrate how you helped similar customers, and surveys that help you identify customer wants and needs.
  6. Frequency: You don’t want to overwhelm your customers and prospects with too many emails, yet you want to get in front of them often enough to maintain awareness. For most CNC machine shops, one or two emails per month are a good amount.
  7. Do-it-yourself or get help: Finally, if your list is manageable and you have the time and resources, you may be able to handle your ongoing email promotions in house. Otherwise, you may wish to find a competent freelance professional or an email-marketing firm to help you manage this important activity. The investment will be well worth it as you expand your customer base and enjoy a more consistent flow of work through your shop.
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