email marketing strategies for small business

Proven email marketing strategies for small business

Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways for a small business to reach their target audience. For marketers, email has many advantages in terms of analytics, scalability, and ROI. With email, you have two main strategies: create your own list or buy one. 

When building your own list, just like every aspect of your digital marketing strategy, you will need to invest time to capture new contacts, grow your subscriber base, and train your staff. However, renting a list can be easier because the costs are lower, and more data on who the contacts are.

Determine your email marketing goals

When you start your email marketing campaign, the first thing to do is determine your goals. There are two main objectives: build a database and drive sales. 

If your business is new, then you might decide to build a database and grow your email subscribers. It’s not enough that someone gave you their email address – they must be engaged with your brand or product before they buy anything. 

If you are an existing business owner, the goal of your campaign could be to increase conversion rates or average order value. 

Make sure you have a specific goal in mind before you start any marketing campaign.

Decide on your audience

So you know what you want to achieve with your email marketing campaign and who should receive the email. But how are you going to do it? 

There are five main ways to reach and engage your target audience: 

– email, social media, online ads, mobile apps, direct mail.

The right channel will depend on your budget and what you want to achieve with the campaign. It is worth noting that the more channels you use, the more complex it gets. You will have to invest time and resources to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to strategy and deliverables. 

The goal of your email marketing campaign might be different from that of your Facebook ads or your mobile app. It all depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.

How to generate leads

There are many ways you can get lead generation for your business, but the most effective ones are: 

– email (surveys and social sharing)

– webinars

– whitepapers, eBooks

The goal of every marketing campaign is to convert leads into customers. You might think that you can install a button on your site, and that’s it, but in reality, the process is much more complicated than that.

When determining what type of content to send to the recipients, you should keep in mind: 

– What does my target audience want?

– What are their concerns and questions?

– Are they ready for a sales pitch, or are they still in the research phase?

– What are my competitors doing that’s working, and how can I use it to my advantage?

Creating a lead magnet

A lead magnet is a free incentive that will persuade customers to give you their email addresses. 

There are many types of lead magnets: – free report, free course, eBook, coupon, or discount. 

The goal is to get your audience’s attention and make them take action. You should start by researching what they want and need and then build your campaign around that.

Your aim should get people who never heard of you before to give you their email address and become a part of your database. If you deliver value, they will happily sign up for more updates from your site or opt-in for additional information.

Segmenting your email subscribers

When you build your own list, segmentation plays an important role in the success of your email marketing campaign. 

Segmentation helps you narrow down the audience and craft more personalized messages. It’s a step-by-step process that gives you better insight into what content to send to whom to make them convert into a customer. 

There are many ways to segment your email subscribers. The easiest way is to break it down into stages: acquisition, engagement, and conversion. 

By discovering what stage they’re at, you can cater to their needs and improve the outcome of your campaign.

A good example would be an e-commerce site that has a sale. 

Stage one: acquire new customers. You could send them a welcome email to introduce yourself, your business, and what you offer. You should let them know of any upcoming sales or special offers to get their attention. Make sure to segment your email list to send different messages to different customers.

Stage two: engagement. Email marketing is a great way to build trust with your target audience and increase customer loyalty through useful, relevant, and entertaining content. You can do this by sending buyers tips on using your product or service to solve their problems. 

Stage three: conversion. Here is where email marketing shines because it allows you to target and personalize your message for the specific customer who is about to make a purchase.  

This way, you can offer them exactly what they want at just the right marketing when their interest is piqued. 

Designing Your Emails

While every Email Service Provider such as Mailchimp or Aweber will supply you with professionally designed email templates, I advocate plain text emails. 

Why plain text emails? Because they have higher conversion rates. 

They are also easier to read, which is a bonus for your customers.

Email templates with lots of images and social media links tend to arrive in subscribers’ promotions tab instead of their inbox.

Your emails should be as close to a ‘regular’ email as possible – just like one they would receive from a friend. 

An email that is too ‘sales or promotional will most likely never make it to the inbox.

Avoid spam triggers

Email clients such as Gmail are very sensitive to the words used in emails, even when they’re from trusted sources. It is therefore important that you avoid the following:

– Emails with multiple images or large attachments

– Promotional emails without any valuable content

– Messages with no personalization and unsubscribe links in plain sight 

– Subject lines that are too long or contain promotional language

Doing this will greatly reduce the number of emails your subscriber’s mark as spam. 

Some of the know email trigger words are:

– Free

– Sale 

– Earn

– Register

– Click here

– Act now

– Cash

– Bonus

It’s also important to avoid using these words in your email subject lines or the email body. 

Increasing email open rates

It’s a well-known fact that many modern consumers are bombarded with hundreds of marketing messages every day. 

This means that it is vital to have an eye-catching subject line if you want your email message to stand out and be read by the recipient.

The good news is that there are ways to increase open rates and improve the deliverability of your emails.

Open rates are determined by the design and subject line of the message and the list it is sent to.  

If you want a high open-rate, send your email during office hours (9 to 6) when people have more time to check their personal messages and respond to them.

Using an emoji in the subject line can increase open rates.

Also, adding personalization can have a dramatic impact on your open rate. 

Personalization can be as simple as including the recipient’s name in the email subject line. 

Email marketing automation

Now that you understand who should get the offer, the next step is automating the process.

We’ve all been given a discount voucher at some point and forgot to bring it with us. By automating your email marketing campaign, you can create an easy way for customers to redeem their coupons or discounts automatically. 

This will reduce cart abandonment and allow you to track the effectiveness of each campaign. 

Automation software allows you to segment your email list based on certain events during the buyer’s journey. 

For example, if someone visited a few pages but didn’t add anything to their cart, then you can promote an “instant discount” to encourage them to make a purchase and reach the next stage in the buyer’s journey. 

Or, if they’ve already purchased a product but haven’t claimed their bonus offer, you can reach out to them via email and let them know how to redeem it.

This allows you to stay in contact with your customers on a regular basis without having to constantly create new emails from scratch each time. 

Email marketing automation is a feature that allows you to automatically send new content, trigger emails based on certain events, and create sequences of messages, all without having to lift a finger. 

You can automate email scheduling, so it’s delivered at the optimal time for your audience with just one click.  

Increase conversions with Split testing

Split testing is the best way to improve your email marketing campaign results. The A/B (split) test consists of sending two different versions of a particular email and comparing how many people open each one, how many people click on each link in the message, and what language or subject lines resulted in you receiving more opens and clicks.

Pretty much every Email Service Provider allows you to run a split test by sending each version of the email to a different list and comparing which one performs better.  

This way, you can identify the strategies that deliver better results and focus on them while ditching any tactics that are not generating enough interest.

Vital metrics to pay attention to

Opt-in Rate: This is how many people signed up for your list after visiting your landing page. 

Open Rate: Identify which subject lines are generating more interest, the best time of the day and days of the week to send emails and whether certain users prefer a particular device. 

Click-through Rate (CTR): The CTR is an important metric when split testing your email campaigns; it measures how many times a link in an email was clicked. 

If you receive 5% CTR on your subject line, this means that 5% of users who opened the email also clicked on the link inside it.  

The goal is to increase the number of clicks on each link. 

That way, you can test different subject lines and links and see which ones are most effective.

Scrub your email list 

Scrubbing your email list means getting rid of all the inactive or unengaged contacts in order to grow your subscriber base. That way, you can send more relevant messages to people who are more likely to open them and convert.

The easiest way to do this is by using a tool that scans your entire list and automatically removes any contacts that haven’t opened or clicked on your emails in the past 60, 90, or 180 days. 

This will optimize the quality of your list and keep you from sending messages to people who are not interested in hearing from you. Your best chance at getting someone’s attention is by sending something that’s actually relevant to them. 

In short, it keeps your deliverability as high as possible. 

Building an email list vs. renting an email list

The purpose of email marketing is to send the right message to the right people.

You have two choices. Build an email list of your own over time, or rent a list that someone else has built. 

The pros of renting an email list:

1) Renting an email list saves time because you don’t have to amass a list over time and then hire, train and motivate your own staff. 

2) Renting an email list is inexpensive. You pay for the list once and can use it a lot – 1000s of times. 

3) There’s less of a risk with email lists that have been rented out. If you build your own list and the opt-outs are too high, or if there is a negative event tied to your company – say a spammer purchased it, then your newly created list will be tainted. 

4) You don’t have to worry about updating or importing your email list into another system. The people on the rented list are unlikely to unsubscribe because they were acquired by someone else for rent. And, if they do unsubscribe, you can buy them again.

5) If you rent a list with demographics included, such as email and phone number for some of the contacts, you can reach several people in each household. Which is good if your product or service targets families. 

The cons of renting an email list:

1) The bought lists will have a lower response rate or opt-in rate. It’s likely they were collected in an illegal way, and the persons contacted didn’t consent to receive email from a stranger. Or, you got the list by purchasing it from someone who bought it as a violation of user agreements when signing up for services online. 

2) If you get in trouble with the law, whether for spamming or not, then this will reflect on the list you bought. 

3) If the rented email list only has names and emails, then you are missing a huge piece of demographic information that is important to know when sending out marketing messages. This means you need to have your own list in addition to buying a rented list. 

4) The bigger the list, the weaker the data – meaning if 100% of the people on a 500k list are new to your industry or have no interest in what you want to sell them, then it’s less likely that they will buy from you. You might find this is one of the reasons why some companies that sell lists offer fewer emails than others.

The pros of building your own email list:

1) You can create a highly targeted list of potential customers from the start. 

2) Can have total control over the opt-in and unsubscribe process. It’s unlikely you’ll get in trouble for it later if you are able to maintain an excellent reputation with your subscribers. If they hear about a negative event that affects your company, they are less likely to unsubscribe; there will be a lesser opt-out rate. 

3) You can see who your audience is and tailor each message based on their interests. 

4) As you build up your own email list, so it’s more likely that the contacts will keep responding to emails from you because they know you and trust you. 

5) You can use your own email list in conjunction with a rented list – this is more likely to be effective than using just one or the other.

The cons of building your own email list:

1) The bigger your list, the harder it will be for you to manage it by yourself, especially if you have hired an email marketing company to help. 

2) You need to have content for your list each and every week, month, or quarter. If you don’t send out anything, then your list will become polluted with inactive unsubscribed contacts, which adds a bit of work to deleting them when the time comes. 

3) If you are doing this in-house, you need to find the time for writing and sending out engaging content. 

In my opinion, it’s better in the long run if you build your own email list.

Email Marketing Do’s and Don’ts

The goal is to build trust and nurture the relationship.

Do’s and don’ts:

· Do create a compelling message designed to persuade the customer Make it fast and easy for customers to buy or to use a special code to access the offer

· Do create a limited time window and build a sense of urgency

· Do make it easy for customers to share information about your business with other people (a simple like/post/tweet button)  

· Do send them a reminder to share or re-share with their friends and connections (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.)

· Do make it easy for customers to contact you 

· Do include your company email and/or phone number in the copy of the email. Make sure they can easily find this information on your site as well

· Don’t spam your list or send out too many emails

· Don’t send an email to your list without a clear, compelling reason why you need to communicate with them

· Don’t assume that customers will automatically open and read each email from you. Put in the time to ensure it is interesting, useful, and offers something worthwhile 


Email marketing is a great way to communicate with customers and can help you get your products in front of them without breaking the bank. It’s worth taking some time to learn how to use email marketing effectively. With an understanding of what works, its impact on audience engagement, and tactics for overcoming common obstacles, you will be able to promote your business effectively and efficiently.

The most important thing to remember will always be the relationship you build with your audience, as that is what they care about the most. Always treat them well and respect their time as you would want to be treated if you were on the receiving end of an email. If done properly, your emails can become a great source of repeat customers and a business that will last for years.

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