The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for Small Business
At Digital Marketing Service Pro, email marketing for small businesses is one of the many services that we offer as part of our comprehensive marketing strategies.
We’ve put together this beginner’s guide to email marketing to help you get a better understanding of email marketing, why it works, and how to create an effective strategy.
Marketing is about reaching your audience where they are. Your website content is what you use to show up in search engines.
Your social media pages are what you use to reach those that are spending time on Facebook and LinkedIn. Your videos are how you reach people on YouTube, and on and on.
Once place that your future, current, and past customers spend a lot of time is their email, and that is why email marketing for entrepreneurs – when used correctly – can be an invaluable tool for reaching your audience, developing relationships, and helping your company grow.
We’ll provide even more advanced email marketing tips in future blog posts (so make sure to bookmark our site or follow us on Facebook to keep an eye out for those), but hopefully this can help you get a better idea of why email marketing is so useful for new and existing small businesses hoping to improve their marketing efforts.
Why do you need Email Marketing for your small business?
Email marketing, as the name implies, is using a collection of emails to reach out to leads, consumers, or anyone else connected to your business. Sometimes, this is referred to as “newsletters” or a key component in “Customer Relationship Management” (CRM).
The goal is to create emails that are used to market and grow your business. How you do this can take many forms. Many, many companies send emails to their current customers in order to create brand loyalty or promote new products/services. Some companies create a collection of emails from leads or those interested in a specific topic, and then write sales emails directed at those leads.
The content of the emails can be essentially anything. It is often promotional, but it doesn’t have to be. For example, a company that sells vintage car parts may want to write engaging articles about vintage autos, with no sales content, solely for the purpose of keeping themselves in the minds of their potential customers. Another business may send specific products and sales into the inbox of their customers, hoping to create instant sales.
There is no right or wrong type of content, provided it is created with a specific plan in mind.
Types of Email Marketing
Because there are so many ways to approach email marketing, discussing the ways to plan and initiate your emails can be difficult. For the purposes of clarity – both in this guide to email marketing and for your own discussions around it – we traditionally categorize it into different types:
- Transactional – Transactional emails are emails directly related to a transaction. For example, if the customer made a purchase, and you send an email with their receipt, that is a transactional email. Since these emails have a high open rate, it can be helpful to include branding, sales information, and more to try to promote more transactions.
- Relationship Based/Email Newsletter Style – Relationship based emails are what most people think of when they think about email marketing. You collect email addresses – either from current customers that have given you their email address, or using a form where people can opt in to campaigns – and you send them newsletters that help them remember you and your brand.
Email is the best way to reach your customers. It is delivered directly to them, with no work on their part. It is not prone to algorithms (Facebook posts, for example, may or may not show on a user’s feed because of how the algorithm works, but email is always delivered, 100% of the time). It also allows you to hone and refine your audience. All of those benefits are unique to this style of marketing.
How to Start an Email Marketing Campaign that Helps Your Business
Some email marketing systems can contain demographic, interest-based, and data driven information that can further be used to drive traffic or sales. For example, an email system can see how which users tend to open and click on emails that contain, say, tech products. Then, as a company, you can create newsletters and emails specifically about tech products to reach that specific audience.
Research shows that as many as 8 in 10 consumers prefer email to other marketing methods. But you will be tasked with trying to understand what your audience is looking for and how best to reach it.
- Online Antique Store – An online antique store collects emails in two ways. First, anyone that makes a purchase has to share their email, and can opt into newsletters. Second, those interested in “first look” at new antiques before they go for sale can sign up. This company sends bi-weekly emails with fun facts about antiques, along with information on new products before they are uploaded online.
- Retail Store – A retail store provides a 15% off coupon that they use to entice people to give their email address. The first email is the coupon, but subsequent emails send product info and additional sales in order to create instant transactions. Because of the desirability of their products, they do not typically send any non-promotional info.
- Pest Control – Most people do not opt-in to pest control emails for fun. So the pest control company delivers emails exclusive to their current (or former) customer base. These emails are rarely promotional, as customers do not typically purchase pest control on a whim. Rather, they have DIY information, useful facts, and more, to help people stay safe and to establish themselves as a trustworthy business.
Any time we talk about a broad topic like email marketing, it’s important to note that how YOUR business creates and manages its email marketing campaign might be different from how another business might do it. That’s because email marketing is all about knowing your audience, and every audience has different things they respond to.
Here are a few examples of how some different types of businesses have created and managed their email marketing campaigns:
Tips for Creating a Successful Email List
Before you can start sending emails, you’ll need to create an email list. This list is something that should be growing over time (unless people opt-out, which will happen) and that you’re actively looking to try to improve. It’s also in your control. No one will give you a list of emails, and you’ll be tasked with trying to discover ways to capture more emails in your system.
So if you want to get a list of email addresses to send these newsletters to, you’ll want to consider the following ideas:
- Offer a Discount – People love to save money. Offering a discount or some kind that is available instantly is a great way to get people to sign up for your list.
- Make it Worthwhile – Have a pitch that makes it useful for someone to give their email address. For example, perhaps you give early access to products, or announce tour dates, send coupons, or provide information that people love to read about. Some people like to offer a free eProduct, like an eBook, to people that sign up.
- Use Your Customers – Your customer list, assuming that you collected emails for receipts or what have you, is probably your easiest and most valuable tool. It is available to you right now, everyone on that list knows what your business is and who you are, and can be added to any campaign you run provided you believe that they’ll benefit from the emails.
- Use Your Form Submissions and Leads – If people submit forms on your site, or they contact you about becoming a customer (no matter where they are in the pipeline), they can be used as well. Always consider the value of the emails you plan to send before you start emailing these names, as they technically did not “opt-in,” but they still make great additions to your email list.
Don’t forget to be creative! Your specific audience can easily have email marketing strategies that work better for you than what is listed here.
Email Strategies that Work
It is worth repeating this over and over: your successful email marketing campaign is going to be different from the campaigns of others. You’ll be the one to figure out things like how important is it to send promotional emails, or whether or not you need to offer sales/discounts, etc. That is going to be based on your audience.
But the strategies that businesses most typically implement include:
- 1 to 3 Emails a Month – Email too often, and you’ll lose subscribers. Email too infrequently, and you’re unlikely to get a response. An average of 1 to 3 emails a month is ideal for staying in contact without it looking like spam.
- Mix of Email Strategies – Some businesses do pure, nonstop promotion. Some do solely informative newsletters. But for most businesses, the best strategy is a mix of content like promotions, business updates, call to action offers, informative info, and more, so that recipients feel like they’re getting something of real value. You can also mix these into a single post, giving something for everyone.
- Quality Content Matters – The newsletters cannot be hastily thrown together. It is a good idea to hire a copywriter or have your best on-staff writer create content. You’ll also want to see if it’s something you can decorate, with images, borders, and more, so that the newsletter appears more professional.
- Monitor Data – Most email newsletter campaign apps will give you data on its users. It will include things like open rates, click rates, and more, usually connected to the user. It will also help you find out which ones work better, what people are interested in, whether your emails are ending up in spam folders, and so much more. Use that data. It will tell you more about your audience and help you drive decisions.
There are those that spend their entire careers specializing in email marketing, and marketing companies like our team here at Digital Marketing Service Pro has considerable experience crafting and running these types of email marketing services.
We’ll do our best to create more information in the future on how to write a newsletter, answering questions like how often should you send an email campaign based on YOUR business, and more, but if you stick to the above simple strategies, your email marketing will be more successful than others in your area.
Do’s and Don’ts of Email Marketing
Successful campaigns don’t happen overnight. It takes time and attention, and should be something that you are always enhancing to improve the success of each individual newsletter. The following are some of the Do’s and Don’ts with email campaigns:
DO: Have a plan. Email marketing isn’t easy to do if you’re just winging it by saying “oh it’s the first of the month, I need to send an email!” Your email marketing should have a strategy that you’re implementing in advance in order to better target customers and obtain useable data.
DON’T: Buy email lists from other businesses. It is possible to buy lists from other people, but this is not ideal as it may be seen as spam, and not typically as appreciated by customers. There is very little way to verify whether the list is any good, and people that sell email lists to you will also be selling to others, decreasing its value even further.
DO: Be open to change. You don’t actually know your audience. You *think* you know your audience, but until you start sending out newsletters and collecting data, you’re just guessing what they want to see and read. It’s important to make sure that you’re willing to adapt if the data says that there are things that your audience responds to that work better than others.
DON’T: Send any email without testing it thoroughly. You have to make sure that you send test emails to a few different email addresses to ensure that it doesn’t get caught up in spam filters, and shows up correctly in most email inboxes. Something that looks good in your email marketing account may show up poorly in inboxes, and it’s important to make sure you catch it as early as possible.
DO: Experiment. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Maybe there’s something you can offer, say, or do that gets a far better response than a standard, simple newsletter. Maybe your newsletters would be better with jokes, or all your audience cares about is coupons and discounts. You won’t know unless you try it. As long as it is audience-driven and you pay attention to the data, experimentation is useful.
DON’T: Give up right away. Email marketing campaigns do not typically become instant moneymakers overnight. Lots of companies take the time to set up and manage an email marketing campaign for a few months, and then immediately shut it down when it doesn’t have an instant ROI. Remember that email marketing isn’t just about creating immediate sales. There is also brand awareness, relationship building, and more – things that take years to develop. Plus, you’re still working out what emails work best. Don’t give up just because you don’t think you’re seeing results immediately.
Starting Your Own Email Marketing Campaign Now
Even if you‘re not sure if you want to do an email marketing campaign, the best time to start one is now. That is because every day that you‘re not out there collecting emails is a day that you‘re missing out on potential emails in the future. Even if you never send a single email, it is a good idea to start list building right away – today, right now – so that if you ever change your mind in the future, you already have a list being generated.
Email marketing can be extremely effective. Like most forms of marketing, it can take work, but the payoff can be substantial. If you’d like help with your email marketing campaigns for your small business or support for running your entire business, contact Digital Marketing Service Pro, today.
Brian Zippin is the founder of Digital Marketing Service Pro and a Partner at Zip In Media Productions. Since 2009, Brian Zippin has helped 100’s of owners achieve systematic #1 rankings while in addition providing top-quality video content.