Your Small Business Email Marketing Guide

Email marketing is as relevant as ever. Despite people’s inboxes being filled daily, email remains a top way to communicate with people. More than ever, small business should incorporate email marketing into their business strategy and cultivate a robust program for every touchpoint of a customer lifecycle.

Email marketing provides personalized information about customers and prospects and is a direct cause to actual sales. For small businesses, knowing where to begin can be tough. Employ these six tactics when developing your email marketing plan.

Simplify the sign-up process

You can’t contact your customers if you don’t have their email addresses. Add sign-up buttons or boxes to your website and include direct sign up links on all social media profiles or other online places where your business is listed. To increase the probability of people signing up for your emails, only require your audience to type in their email address and push “submit.” A multi-step sign up process loses people’s interest quickly. Simplicity is best when you’re asking people for their personal information.

Understand the objective of your emails

You may want to send a variety of emails to your distribution list, but do so with careful thought and consideration. Before you create a tiered marketing campaign, decide what you want to get from your emails. Is it to inform customers of promotions or distribute your original content? Perhaps if your business is seasonal, emails are designed to notify clients about hours of operation. There are a litany of objectives based on your industry, physical or digital location, and staffing resources. Whatever you decide on, stick to that goal and try not to complicate your communications.

Beyond your business goals, keep in mind that your subscribers want valuable and useful information. Ensure your emails encompass what they’re looking for, and not only what you want them to see. Your audience should be a top consideration when determining your email objectives. This way your campaigns always align with your overall business strategy.

Craft attention-grabbing subject lines

Those five to ten word subject lines are your gateway to reader engagement. Even though they’re short and sweet, your subject line determines whether someone opens your email or not! So spend the time creating clever, enticing, and relevant subject lines. Again, you’re competing against loads of other businesses for a person’s precious time; show them you know what they want through your subject lines.

The 4 U’s Formula is a useful tool for when you’re feeling stuck or you want to evaluate how a potential subject line measures up. These four criteria – Urgent, Unique, Useful, and Ultra-Specific – encompass the overarching themes that produce highly-engaging headlines. For a successful subject line, include a combination of the 4 U’s.

Personalize the message

Personalization is becoming more and more important, especially in email marketing. Take the time to include as much personal detail and information into your communications. At the very least, you most likely have a person’s first name, so use it! People like to be recognized and feel known, even if it is through a widely distributed email campaign.

If you are able, send emails related to past purchases or consumer behavior. Understanding what you customers prefer and are attracted to, on an individual level, will make your emails exponentially more compelling.

Be brief

For email marketing, less is more. Be concise with your text and avoid sending emails with long blocks of text. Provide the necessary information in your emails and link to full articles or sites, should the reader wants to know more. A clean, uncrowded email gives the reader space to digest your content and actually retain what you’re telling them.

Including links to your website, relevant articles or social media profiles is a great engagement tool as you can measure how many clicks a specific link generates. This metric will inform what’s of interest to your audience and construct the best content for your clients.

Keep communication going

Encourage two-way communication. Many businesses use “do not reply” email addresses, so the customer is left without a point of contact. Set up a specific email address for your mass communications that people can reply to. Dedicate time every day to responding to messages and fostering conversation and relationship with your clients. They’ll appreciate a quick reply, and that will go far in developing long-term, loyal customers.

Bonus: Two Layout Best Practices

First, you have a short amount of time to retain a reader’s attention, so place your Call to Action above the fold. Above the fold is the section of your email that is visible to the reader without scrolling. Placing your critical message, such as “Today only: 50% off!” or “Enter to win a free service” at the top of the email guarantees it will be seen, which is the whole point of sending the email. Above the fold placement of your CTA also drives higher conversion and link clicks.

Second, use images sparingly. Much like your subject line, choose your images with a message in mind. Images should enhance the content and nurture the underlying message of the email. There is a balance to email layout, and managing the quantity and size of images is part of that equilibrium. Insert images when it makes sense and don’t fear white space. White space gives readers a moment to pause before taking an action or reading another part of your email.

The below image is from an email from Tuckernuck, which is an online retailer for women’s and men’s apparel. They’ve mastered the above the fold call to action and how to use images in a persuasive way. Take note of their design and overall feel. This is intentional and is consistent throughout their communications. Each email campaign should strive to evoke the same underlying feelings about your brand from its readers.

As you build your business strategy, remember these key elements of email marketing. Not sure where to begin? Our Email Marketing product streamlines your contact list, develops customized email templates, links to your social media profiles, and tracks your campaign analytics. Find out more about our email offering and watch your email marketing returns increase before your eyes.

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