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  • 08.24.10

Flowtown Extends Reach of Small Business Marketing

Now that brands are becoming more aggressive users to social tools like Twitter and Facebook, there’s a danger that consumers will be inundated with marketing messages and unwanted advances. The messages have become “touch points” scheduled by a system; the major brands have many ways to touch a customer–advertising, public relations, direct marketing, telemarketing, and now SCRM. With all that at their disposal, no wonder brands sometimes appear to be stalking consumers. But those are the big brands. What about the smaller ones?

Now that brands are becoming more aggressive
users to social tools like Twitter and Facebook, there’s a danger
that consumers will be inundated with marketing messages and unwanted
advances. The messages have become “touch points” scheduled by a system; the major brands have many ways to touch a customer–advertising, public relations, direct
marketing, telemarketing, and now SCRM. With all
that at their disposal, no wonder brands sometimes appear to be
stalking consumers. But those are the big brands. What about the
smaller ones? The ones that need to build a brand and can’t afford to
at the same time?

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Tom’s Tavern,
a restaurant in Phoenix Arizona that has been in business for 25 years, is a perfect example of a business that could use
social media effectively without stalking customers. Indeed, Tom’s
opened at the time when marketing was something a restaurant in
downtown Phoenix didn’t need to do.

But times change, and things got more competitive. About five years ago, I showed the founder how to use Constant Contact to
send a monthly newsletter of specials, recipes, changes, and events.
His loyal clientele opened that newsletter for the first several years
in almost amazing numbers, because they do love the restaurant.

And then the number of opens
started to go down. And down. The owner called me recently for a new
idea, and I suggested social media. But for small and medium-size
businesses, who don’t have an entire marketing team (the owner greets the guests, writes and sends the newsletter, and even collects the business cards for the mailing list),
email is often the only answer, and they have to make it work.

It scheduled intervals between emails,
and gave me choices whether I wanted to reach all my contacts or just Twitter
followers with a message appropriate to them and another just for
Facebook friends.

The first email, to my Twitter
friends, with whom I am VERY engaged, got a 73.6% open rate and a 16.7%
click rate, and several registrations. The second, which went to my
entire Gmail contact list, and got a dramatically worse response,
convinced me that my overall email list (which I never curate) is worthless. That’s what small businesses find out every day. But if they use the people on their email list who are also on social networks, they can find the deeper relationships they already have. Or establish those relationships.

Flowtown gave me immediate good information. I had names on my Gmail list like “support at deru.net” (my ISP) and the generic addresses of several mail lists. if you consider uploading Gmail to Flowtown, remember that Gmail saves the email address of everyone you have ever emailed.

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Flowtown showed me how to make the most of my email
contacts–how to find them elsewhere and deepen my relationship to them. By the time of the conference, I will
not only have more ticket sales, but better lists. And metrics. Small
businesses often don’t have ANY metrics, let alone the comparative
metrics Flowtown has given me.

If you are dipping your toe into social marketing, Flowtown might be for you.

About the author

Francine Hardaway, Ph.D is a serial entrepreneur and seasoned communications strategist. She co-founded Stealthmode Partners, an accelerator and advocate for entrepreneurs in technology and health care, in 1998.

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