If you’re looking for a way to directly reach your customers and prospects in a place they’re checking at least once a day, then email marketing is the answer to your problems.
Email marketing helps you get in front of consumers to drive action, increase awareness for your business, and reach them in a place they’re spending time. The possibilities for email marketing success are endless – as long as you understand email marketing’s power and have the right strategy in place.
In this post, we’ll answer all your questions about small business email marketing, including:
- What is email marketing?
- Why is email marketing important?
- How does email marketing work?
- What are email marketing best practices?
Let’s dive right in.
What is email marketing?
First things first: Let’s define the term. Email marketing is a digital marketing strategy that allows you to send email messages directly to your email list, a subset of your email list, or a list of email addresses.
The purpose of email marketing is to provide valuable information to potential clients and customers, to promote your business, to get people interested in your business, and to become paying customers.
5 reasons email marketing is important
Email marketing can serve many purposes, and it’s a highly effective marketing strategy. Here are some of the benefits of email marketing for small businesses:
1. People use email every day (multiple times per day!)
There are 5.6 billion active email accounts in the world, and 99% of consumers check their email every day. In a time when it’s hard to guarantee 99% for anything, this is a pretty incredible stat!
Plus, not only do most consumers check their emails every day, but the average person checks their emails 20 times per day!
2. Email marketing reaches consumers directly
When you send an email marketing message, you’re getting directly to your customers through their inboxes, which we already know they’re checking daily. This gives you a one-to-one connection with your customers that’s hard to find in digital marketing, making it a great and effective way to reach people.
3. Email marketing can drive users to take an action
You can use email marketing to promote a special or deal you’re running, encourage consumers to sign up for your newsletter, nurture leads, or even drive them to visit your business. The best email marketing campaigns are built around specific goals that encourage customers to take action.
4. Email marketing keeps your business top of mind
In addition to using email marketing to drive your audience to take an action, you can also send educational information that presents you as a leader in your industry. This positions your business as a resource and can help you stay top of mind with your audience, leading them to contact you when they need a business in your industry.
5. Email marketing is easily tracked
One complaint many marketers and business owners have with various marketing strategies is the inability to track and measure success. With email marketing, however, you don’t have that problem.
You can see a number of important and helpful metrics, including:
Open rate: The number of people who opened your email out of the number of people who received it. A good open rate for a marketing email is around 20%, but it varies by industry.
Clickthrough rate (CTR): The percentage of people who clicked on the call-to-action in your email. CTR varies by industry so it’s difficult to provide a percentage goal. Generally, the higher the CTR, the better your email is performing.
Leads: People who contact you to become your customer or to get more information.
Unsubscribes: The number of people opting out of receiving your emails.
These metrics tell you how effective your email marketing campaigns are and where there are areas for improvement. For instance, a less-than-stellar open rate might tell you that you need to test new email subject lines to encourage more customers to open your email.
How does email marketing work?
Email marketing isn’t complex – like we defined, it entails sending marketing messages to your audience via email. But, how do you actually do that?
There are several ways email marketing can work:
You can use a CRM
Some CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools allow you to send email marketing messages to your contacts directly through your platform. A CRM manages your leads and customers, and you can set up automated emails to send based on triggers, events, or lead details.
You can try an email marketing platform
If your CRM doesn’t have this feature or you want to personalize your emails a bit more, you can try an email marketing platform – there are even some free email marketing services you can use like MailChimp. When you use one of these platforms, you upload your list, create your email, and send it from there.
You can work with an email marketing service
If you want to outsource your email marketing, you can work with an email marketing agency to run this for you. An email marketing service can help by using email marketing best practices to create the right strategy and messages, segment your audience, and A/B test your emails to drive the best results.
Finding the right email marketing service or platform is crucial for the success of your email campaigns.
8 email marketing best practices for an effective strategy
Now that you have an understanding of what email marketing is and why it’s important, it’s time to talk strategy. The great thing about email marketing is that you can adjust your strategy based on your specific goals and objectives.
Here, we’ve outlined eight email marketing best practices to help you create the best strategy for your business.
1. Personalize your email marketing messages
Today’s consumers demand personalization from the brands they interact with. They want to see the content and offers that are most relevant to them, and they’re quickly turned off by brands that treat them as just one person in a sea of other customers. Research shows that personalized emails receive 29% higher open rates and 41% higher clickthrough rates.
2. Target your email marketing with segmentation
Not all consumers are alike. Yes, anyone on your mailing list has at least one thing in common: an interest in your company. But most companies have several buyer personas. These personas basically represent the different groups of consumers who do business with you.
Let’s say you own a sporting goods store. You might have four different personas:
- Parents Buying Sports Gear for Their Children
- Hiking & Camping Enthusiasts
- Adults Who Play Sports in Recreational Leagues
- Elite Runners and Cyclists
The elite runners won’t be interested in hiking shoes, just like the hikers don’t have a need for children’s baseball gloves. That’s where list segmentation comes in and allows you to target your email marketing messages to the right audience.
By breaking your audience down by demographics, attributes, and previous interactions with your brand, you can send everyone emails that are relevant only to their needs.
You can also segment your list by consumer action. So, for example, you can create a list segment for customers who have recently made a purchase and send post-purchase emails to stay top of mind, build loyalty, and get feedback.
3. Create the right subject lines and email content
The subject line and email content will make or break the success of your email marketing strategy.
You want to ensure your subject line is attention-grabbing. If it’s something generic that’s going to fade into the background, recipients may not click in to read what you have to offer. You can also try A/B testing subject lines to see what performs best with your audience.
(We have some subject line ideas for you here!)
Make sure you’re creating email content that is straightforward, appeals to your target audience, and clearly outlines what action they should take.
4. Outline a year-long email marketing strategy
One of the great things about email marketing is that you can technically run it as a one-and-done tactic as part of your overall marketing strategy. But, when it comes to getting down to business with email marketing, it’s even better to outline a plan for the whole year.
Here are some times during the year that email marketing might work for you:
- Holidays: The holidays are a great time to check in with your customers and prospects to remind them about your business and the goods and services you provide, let them know about upcoming specials, and more. And, the holidays are spaced out throughout the year, so you have a built-in plan ready to go! (Check out these holiday email subject lines for inspiration for your campaigns!)
- Down Times: Are there times during the year that your business needs a little boost? Do you have a seasonal business? Plan ahead by adding email marketing during that time and running a special or promotion.
- Seasonally: Even if your business isn’t seasonal, you can take advantage of the seasons with email marketing. And, with list targeting, you can hit different segments of your consumer base during different times of the year. For example, send a special email promotion for your spa to parents with kids around back-to-school time — parents will be ready for some pampering after a long summer.
If you’re not ready to plan a full year for your email marketing, there are plenty of other options that will keep you at the top of consumers’ inboxes.
Related: Find out the top types of emails you should be sending–and when!
5. Plan to amplify your promotions with email marketing
If you’re planning your promotions or events for the year, make sure to incorporate email marketing as part of that plan. Consumers love promotions. In fact, 61% of consumers enjoy receiving promotional emails weekly.
I’m a sucker for sales emails, and I’ve discovered some of my favorite local businesses this way. I see an email for a discounted dog bath, and I make my dogs an appointment right away. I get a promotion for a new restaurant that’s offering a free appetizer, and I’m there (for pick up) that weekend.
I mean, who doesn’t like discounts? So, if you’re running any types of discounts or specials, email marketing should be your go-to place to advertise it (in addition to your other channels, of course).
6. Get the word out about your events
Just like email marketing is great for promotions, it’s also great for events. If you’re holding any events during the year, put together an email marketing campaign to accompany it. Make sure that the email includes all details about the event, a link to RSVP if that’s needed, and engaging images that entice the reader to attend.
Say you’re holding an event as you open a new location — you want to target customers in your area who might attend and bring their friends.
With targeted email marketing, you’re able to get in front of consumers in the right area and increase the chances that more people might attend.
7. Promote your business through education
Another great way to market your business through email is to incorporate some kind of educational campaign. Maybe your auto repair shop creates helpful content for your consumers to take better care of their cars, or maybe you’re a dietician that provides healthy recipes. Or, maybe you don’t create content, but you can gather helpful content and send it as resources for your audience. Whatever it is, you can position your business as a leader in the industry by sending out informational content that doesn’t ask for anything in return.
You can even tack this on to your year-round plan. For example, the car repair shop could send seasonal tips on how to care for your car in the winter and summer. The dietician could send email marketing campaigns around the holidays with healthy recipe ideas.
This is a great way to get the word out about your business and help your potential customers see you as a resource.
8. Tie email marketing to your full marketing strategy
Email marketing works best as part of a holistic marketing strategy. If you’re sending emails that drive traffic to your website, you want to make sure your website looks great and provides the right information.
Consumers may see your email and perform a search for your business, so you’ll want to make sure you’re running SEO so you have a chance of showing up for that search. And, if you’re also running PPC, you can ensure more opportunities to appear in search engines.
Get started with email marketing
Email marketing is a cost-effective way to get in front of new consumers and existing customers to reach a variety of goals, which is important in any economic climate. You can use email marketing to nurture leads, get new customers, and keep your business top-of-mind. If you’d like more information about how email marketing can help your business, reach out today.