Email marketing for small business

By EB

Are you looking to build an email marketing campaign for small business? Here we talk about how to build an email list, how to create the right email, and about the best email marketing services for small business.

As small business owners, most of us cannot afford to have a marketer to handle marketing for our business. So, we need to find out the best marketing strategies, which we can implement, all by ourselves, without having to go through a lot.

Email marketing is one of such marketing strategies. It is super effective, and with all these new email marketing services, you can set everything to go autopilot. Also, the best thing is, you can set up an email marketing campaign, without having to learn a lot about tech stuff.

In this article, we are going to discuss,

  • The importance of and effectiveness of a good email marketing campaign for small business
  • How to build an email list
  • Email signup form best practices
  • What makes an effective email marketing campaign
  • How to write email subject lines that grab the attention
  • How to write the perfect body content for your emails
  • The best practices for creating a clear CTA
  • The importance of having media content in your emails
  • How to use analytics to test your email marketing campaign
  • The best email marketing services for small businesses

The importance and effectiveness of a good email marketing campaign

With the rise of social media marketing, now the email marketing may seem like it is going to die. However, the numbers show that email marketing is still worth taking seriously.

email marketing strategy - the effectiveness
Effectiveness of Digital media channels by SmartInsights

Talking about my own experience, around 20% – 30% of the sales of my online dropshipping stores are generated through email marketing campaigns. The one thing I love about email marketing is, once you set up a campaign, it can go almost autopilot, without needing your attention a lot.

Email marketing gives an excellent opportunity to keep your customers “warm” about your brand and products. You can send them your newsletters, product updates, information about promotions through email marketing to keep them in touch with your business.

Keeping your customers attracted to your business eliminates a lot of initial steps in their potential purchasing journeys. That is why the conversions (sales) generated by an email marketing campaign usually costs you less.

How to build an email list

There are many different ways to create email lists. Sometimes, you can offer a free giveaway or sometimes it can be just for a newsletter or product updates.

The way you should collect emails depends on your business. If your business is just an e-commerce store, maybe a free giveaway might be the best way to create an email list. However, if you have a blog on your site or if you can publish exiting product updates regularly, you can ask for emails for a newsletter.

If you offer free giveaways, some popular methods include:

  • Coupon codes for discounts
  • Free downloads
  • Free white papers and ebooks

People like free stuff. So, by using these methods, you can definitely build a substantial email list for your email marketing campaign.

email marketing signup form quest
Quest uses a popup email signup form with a discount offer

email signup form best practices

Here are some best practices for creating email signup forms for your email marketing campaign.

  • Get the permission – Whatever the method you use to collect emails for your email marketing campaign, make sure to get their permission to sign them up. And, never buy email lists from third parties. If you start sending promotional emails without a concent, people will definitely start blocking your email address. And, if they have automatic spam filters, those programs will blacklist your email address. 
  • Provide a clear value exchange – If you need to entice your customers to subscribe, you need to provide them a clear value exchange. An email address is a valuable asset. So, for them to enter that email address, you need to offer them something useful. For example, if you just offer a newsletter or product updates, having a phrase like “Enter your email for a newsletter” is not going to work well. You need to be specific about what your clients will receive to their inbox by signing up with you.
    In our signup form, we promise, “Insights & Inspirations you want. Marketing tips, Business ideas & News – straight to your inbox.”
  • Use double opt-ins to filter fake leads – Using double opt-ins (asking your customers to confirm the submission via an email sent to their inbox) is the best way to filter out fake leads. Remember, for an effective email marketing campaign, the number of quality leads in your email list is all that matters. So, if someone confirms that they need to receive your emails twice, that can be considered as a quality lead. Also, this helps to move your emails out of their junk folders too.
  • Keep it super simple – Don’t be greedy and ask for too many information. People don’t have time to fill in surveys. The email address and the first name (for personalization) is all that you need for most of the email marketing campaigns.
  • Carefully select the time and place – Conversions won’t occur every time. So, you need to choose carefully where and when to show your email signup form to your customers. For example, if you use pop-up forms, should it pop up after 5 seconds or after 20 seconds? Or, should it be just static form at the bottom of your page. There is no hard and fast rule for any of these. You may need to perform an AB testing to find the best choice for your email marketing campaign.
email marketing signup form gymshark
Gymshark has a static email signup form at the bottom of the page

Extra tip: Usually, the pop-up forms generate more leads than static forms. But, it depends on the time you set it to pop-up. For popup forms, there is a fine line between getting leads and being annoying. Also, popup forms can slow down your site a lot. For this blog, I have reduced the loading time (nearly by 1 second) by removing the email popup forms. Remember, a one second delay in mobile can kill your e-commerce business.

What makes an effective email marketing campaign

Think about it. You have an email account. And how many emails do you usually get every day? Mine is generally flooded with emails for other businesses, readers from this blog, emails from my job, etc. So, how much attention do we give to an individual email? Not so much or not at all, right?

So, how can you get the attention for your email marketing campaign from these busy inboxes? Below we discuss how to create an effective email marketing campaign.

Writing an email subject line that grabs the attention

Some people spend hours crafting a perfect content copy for the email body, and totally ignore the value of the subject line. Take a look at your inbox. Before you open an email, all you can see is the subject lines.

Let’s get real. Now no one gets excited by a new email. So, as the readers, we decide whether to open or delete an email solely by looking at the subject line. That is why you need to start working on your email’s subject line. Here are some tips for writing the perfect subject lines for your email marketing campaign.

  • Be clear – The subject line should explain what is inside. Don’t be too vague. Depending on your content, sometimes it is OK to make it a little bit intriguing (not all the time).
  • No click baits – Clickbait is not a sustainable way of marketing. It will work in the beginning, but people will start unsubscribing from your email marketing campaign.
  • Add some curiosity – You can rephrase your email’s subject line as a question to increase the reader’s engagement.
  • FREE STUFF – Who wouldn’t like to see an offer to have something free (or at a discounted price) early in the morning. If you have promotional offers, shout that out loud on your email marketing campaign.
  • Personalization – People prefer different things. If you can segment your email list, send customized emails for different groups. Also, if you have the names of your receivers, use short-codes and include them in the subject line. For example: “Dave, we miss you. How about a 30% discount for your next purchase?” If you don’t have the names, at least use the words like “You” and “Your.”
  • No for “No-reply– One of the most common mistakes of email marketing campaigns are having that No-reply tag on the subject line. That gives an immediate impression of an automated email. Also, some spam filters will throw such emails into the never-opening junk folder.
  • Human sender – Do not set the sender’s email address to something robotic like “newsletter@myweb.com.” Most of such keywords trigger the spam filters, and no-one will see your emails.  So, if you like to have an effective email marketing campaign, have a sender’s email with a personal name — for example, Daniel@myweb.com.
  • Timing – Timing has a lot to do with crafting the perfect subject lines for your email marketing campaign. For example, let us say that we are sending the weekend offers. So, if I get an email with “weekend offers” in the subject line, on Monday, it will not intrigue me to open that email. I will be starting to think about the weekend, maybe after Thursday. 
  • Use emojis – According to the Campaign Monitor, 56% of brands using emoji in their email subject lines had a higher unique open rate. Having emojis in the email subject lines can make them more impressive. So, if you are planning to build a successful email marketing campaign, maybe you should start adding emojis to the subject line. However, please do not overdo it.

Have images and Gifs

Once your subscriber opens your email, you got just a one or two seconds to engage them with your content. So, the best way to win the interest of your email subscriber within a few seconds is by using the images, infographics, animations, and videos.

This doesn’t mean that you should always include images into your emails. That depends on your content and brand. Also never forget that pictures can increase the load times too. If you must use images, properly optimize your images for the web.

Loft-watermelon-email-marketing-temp
Check out this fantastic use of Gifs on email marketing campaigns featured on mailbakery

If you are using images or any other media files in your email marketing campaign, use for a file less than 1MB in size. Also, some email providers move images to the attachment list. If this happens, still your email should make sense. So, use Alt texts and other text descriptions as well.

Writing the perfect body content for your emails

The body of the email is where you sell your product or service. If you cannot keep your reader engaged in the content, the whole purpose of your email marketing campaign will be wasted.

The body of a marketing email should always be a compelling and conscious piece of writing. Also, don’t forget about the hierarchy of information. Our target is to make a conversion from our email marketing campaign. So, it would be best if you started with the most critical piece of information.

When you write the body copy, start with the simplified version of your offer. Then, you can go into details. Also, use the heading and lists to imply the hierarchy of your information. More white-space on your email helps your subscribers to make clear decisions. So, you can effectively use the short paragraphs to add more white-space.

Having a clear and inviting CTA (Call-to-action) in your emails

A CTA is usually a button or a link that guides your readers to take the next step. It can be an invitation to make a purchase, read a blog post, etc.

When you create a CTA,

  • Use action words: Try to create urgency with your CTA. Things like “Buy Now” are popular CTAs.
  • Use one CTA: Your email marketing campaign should focus on just one single goal. If you are looking to get more website visitors, make it your CTA. If you are looking to get Facebook subscribes, make it the CTA of your email campaign. However, you should never use two or more CTAs in a single email marketing campaign. It will cause unnecessary confusion and decrease your conversion rate.
  • Use buttons: Buttons are easy to click, and they invite people to click on them. Links are not as useful as the buttons. So, use a bold and noticeable button at the bottom of the body of your email, with plenty of white space around it.

Responsive design

Successful email marketing campaigns should be designed targeting all user devices (mobile, desktop, tab). According to the adestra, in 2019, almost 62% of the email clients are on mobile. And, according to the Campaign monitor, 73% of the companies are prioritizing their campaigns for mobile devices.

email marketing campaigns top 10 clients

Well, almost all the email marketing platforms offer responsive email templates for us to use. The only thing is, when you make small adjustments to the templates, you have to keep the responsive design requirement in mind.

Add a flavor to your email marketing campaign with some personal emails and friendly memos

Newsletters are the most shared content of any email marketing campaign. It helps you to keep your customers in touch with your brand.

If you are running a blog as your content marketing strategy, you can easily share your blog posts in your newsletter. Don’t let your email subscribers forget about you. If you cannot create a daily dose of content, at least share a weekly newsletter in your email marketing campaign. Most of the email marketing platforms offer a feature to sync your blog feed with an email campaign. So, you can automatically send all new posts (within some period) to your email subscribers.

Also, don’t just send newsletters all the time. Try to mix it with some personalized, friendly messages. This can boost the subscriber’s engagement with your brand. Remember, if you are working on inbound marketing, you need to create two-way communication with your customers. Email newsletters are just announcements. By sending a friendly memo or personalized message, you can increase the chance of creating a conversation with your customers.

Using analytics to test your email marketing strategy

After starting to run your email marketing campaign, you need to check if that works. Also, if your email marketing campaign doesn’t provide the expected results, you need to find out what went wrong.

The best way to test the effectiveness of your email marketing campaign is that by using the analytics provided by your platform.

Almost all the email marketing platforms provide a comprehensive set of data for you to analyze and understand the performance of your campaign.

In the beginning, we need to focus on three metrics from the analytics.

  • Open rate
  • Click-through rate
  • Unsubscribers

Open rate is the measurement of how many people open your emails. If it is too low than the industry standards, you need to work on your strategies to improve your engagement with the customers. If your subscribers are excited about your brand, and if your email subject lines perform well, you will get better open rates for your email marketing campaigns.

CTA (or click-through rate) is the measurement of how many people click on the action link on your emails. If your CTA is too low, you will need to work on segmentation and targeting your subscribers with relevant content. Also, a sloppy email content copy can reduce the CTA of your email marketing campaign.

Unsubscribers are the number of people you are losing from your campaign. Usually, the unsubs occur as pulses. So, if you cross check your emails that have caused a pulse of unsubs, you can find the culprit. Once you lose an email subscriber, it is tough to have them back. Therefore, pay attention to every clue of your analytics.

Here I have added some data for the industry benchmarks for email marketing campaigns from Campaign Monitor. Compare those with your numbers to see how effective your email marketing campaign is.

email marketing industry benchmarks

Best email marketing services for small business

Choosing the right email marketing service that suits your business is essential. Sometimes the first result that pops up on a Google search might not be the best choice for your email marketing campaign. Below I have added nine best email marketing services for you to choose.

  1. Constant Contact – Constant contact is one of the best email marketing service providers. They offer 60-day free access to their full services. And, it costs $20 per month for an email marketing campaign with up to 500 subscribers. Also, if you have a Shopify store, you can set up automated abandoned cart emails with Constant Contact.
  2. MailChimp – MailChimp is another most popular email marketing services around. Although recently they got some backlash for their new pricing plans, it offers the best all-in-one marketing automation suite for small business.
  3. SendinBlue – SendingBlue is a beginner friendly email marketing service provider with a free startup plan. Also, they offer a feature for SMS marketing too. So, depending on where your customers are located in, you can leverage the power of this email marketing service.
  4. Drip – Drip is an email marketing automation tool. With drip, you can automate your conversations with your customers. For example, you can send emails at the right time based on your customer’s actions like Cart-abandoned, first time user, returning visitors, etc.
  5. Mailjet – Mailject is more of a free email service that lets you send transactional emails. Also, you can integrate their email API with your existing configuration or even use their SMTP relays.
  6. GetResponse – What I love most about GetResponse is their modern templates. Also, they offer a feature to let you integrate webinar marketing along with your email marketing campaign.
  7. ConvertKit – If you are more inclined into sending newsletter updates, ConverKit might be the best email marketing service for you. With ConverKit, you can create custom-tailored emails to individual subscribers.
  8. MailerLite – MailerLite is the best email marketing service for those who are on a tight budget. You can enjoy their free plan for up to 1000 subscribers.
  9. AWeber – AWeber comes with all the essential tools to build your email marketing campaign. With AWeber, you can create beautiful responsive signup forms. The basic plan starts with $19 per month for up to 500 subscribers.

Email marketing for small business – Conclusion

First, sorry for this long post. I wanted to include everything about starting an email marketing campaign for small business.

As we have discussed, email marketing still has a huge potential for customer retention and making sales. So, if you don’t have an email marketing campaign for your small business, you are literally leaving money on the table.

Here we have discussed the best practices and tips about starting a successful email marketing campaign. Also, we have discussed some examples of the best email marketing services.

I hope this information will give you a good starting point to build your email marketing campaign.

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