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Email Marketing Guide For Small Businesses

Updated: Aug 7, 2020

Your customers or audience do not give their email addresses away lightly. Rule number one about email marketing is that email marketing should never be perceived as spam or junk.

Email marketing can build relationships with customers, increase your profits, boost your reach and harbour your community.

Using email can help directly provide your audience with relevant, valuable and engaging content straight into their inbox.

There are no other channels that can deliver messages so effectively with so little "noise". For example on social media, other pages, friends and advertisements can distract your audience away from your message.

Email marketing is a great addition to your marketing campaigns and can give some great benefits for any businesses, large or small.

How do I get started with email marketing?

Email marketing platforms are now everywhere. There are so many different providers with many different price points it really helps to do your homework.

There are free tools like Mailchimp or Ascend with Wix that provide the basics.

  • Lists or basic crm that help categorise your contacts.

  • Template tools and content management that help you design your emails.

  • Some automation and customisation techniques that help make sending the perfect email easier.

  • Analytics and reports to show how effective your marketing efforts are.

These tools are massive aids for small businesses and start-ups with limited time and budget to spend on email marketing.

However, there are options for larger budgets that can do a lot more to boost effectiveness, efficiencies and that incorporate intelligent automation. Platforms such as Hubspot or Oracle's Eloqua can utilise:

  • Advanced workflows or sequences that automatically send emails as the audience goes through a specific sequence of actions or events.

  • Integrated landing pages and websites that help gauge effectiveness and improve conversion rates.

Once you have your platform selected you can then move onto the next step.

How do I choose when to use email marketing?

Email marketing is a great tool for many occasions, to name a few:

  • Building relationship with your audience using personalised engagement through email

  • Increase brand or business awareness by keeping prospects ready to engage and informed

  • Promoting products or services to either new or existing customers

  • Sharing your content directly with your audience

  • Generating leads by inciting engagement in exchange for something your audience will like

  • Nurturing or encouraging leads to purchase or engage directly with your brand

Once you have defined the reasoning behind why you want to use email marketing, you can outline your goals.

Who should I tailor my email marketing campaigns to?

Your email marketing should be focused on your audience. Whether they are a group of volunteers, prospective customers or life-long brand ambassadors, you need to cater to your audience.

You can do this simply by researching your audience thoroughly. Create an audience persona and map out their likes, dislikes, where they consume content, what forms of content they engage with etc and use this to serve them content that they will like and engage with.

If you are trying to market to multiple different types of customers then it may be worth exploring the possibility of sending multiple different emails with different messaging or designs. This may increase your engagement and conversion rates within the emails.

How do I get my audiences email addresses?

You need to have a place where people can sign up to your email updates or newsletters.

You can have a subscribe form on your home page, a pop-up, a downloadable piece of content that requires an email address or a offer or discount code that also requires an email address. This can help build your email list but when starting do not be discouraged if you only have a few email addresses.

It will take time to build your list so in the meantime, really focus on the email addresses you do have and cater to them with every email you send and your list will grow organically.

What type of emails should I send?

There are loads of different types of emails you can send to your customer list. Obviously, the content of the emails will depend heavily on your business, your audience and what tools you have available to you but here are 7 types of email that businesses can send to get you started:

  1. Confirmation Email - When a customer subscribes to your email list, a confirmation email welcoming them to the newsletter and detailing what they can expect. Further to this, confirmation emails can be sent post-purchase or whenever a customer fills out a form or does a specific action.

  2. New Content - Whether a new blog, video, podcast, article or page, you can let your subscribers know with a snippet or extract of the new content.

  3. New Product or Offering - Let your email list know you have a new product or service by giving them details of the new product, images, benefits and maybe a discount or offer to incite them to find out more.

  4. Newsletter Email - If you have little time to email every week, a monthly email newsletter that contains updates and content from that month or whats coming up next month will give your audience all they need to know in one email.

  5. Event Invite - Invite all your email audience with an email invite to an event easily and quickly.

  6. Dedicated Send - Update a specific segment of your audience with a dedicated email. It is a good idea to send your different persona slightly different emails with messages that may resonate with them more.

  7. Personal Update - If your business is fairly small or you have a specific sales team, it is a good idea to send a personalised update from a specific person in your team with a conversational message that your audience are more likely to respond to.

There are many more reasons to use email marketing in your marketing strategy with many different email types, but it is worth testing a few with your audience.

How should I design my emails?

Emails should not only have great content, be valuable to your audience and engaging but also be visually appealing and attention grabbing.

Each email type will dictate email design with some having more elements than others, for example email newsletters will be jam packed with content whereas a confirmation or thank you email may have fewer content sections.

To master email design I have broken the email down into 6 elements which will help you create the best email you can.

  1. Subject Line - Before your audience can see your beautiful email, they have to be interested enough to open your email. Make sure your subject line is interesting and engaging enough that your audience opens the email.

  2. Branding - Inserting a logo or specific design at the top header of your email will help your customers instantly recognise who is sending the email.

  3. Title or Header - Use a short, concise but powerful title or heading that captures the purpose of the email straight away.

  4. Content - Whether this is a new product, new content or message from your team, make sure the text or image gets your point across quickly.

  5. Call To Action or CTA - This is letting your customer know where you want them to go, make sure it is eye-catching and noticeable.

  6. Footer - Why not include links to other relevant pages on your website or your social media pages.

Other important considerations when creating your emails are the timing of your sending, the platform, the email it sends from and of course your audience and content.

How do I measure the effectiveness of my email campaigns?

So you've sent your email to your audience but you need to know how well it did and what results you got.

There are mainly two types of performance metrics to measure the effectiveness of your email. Measuring how your email performed breaks down into what your audience did on the email and then what did they do after seeing your email.

Firstly, measuring the email deliverability (avoiding spam, only sending to engaged subscribers and sending to the correct email addresses), open rate (how many people actually opened your email), time spent reading the email (the longer the better for longer emails!), Clickthrough Rate (how many people clicked on your email) and then how many people unsubscribed from your email list as a result of that specific email are all essential to measure what your audience did on that email.

Then, we can look at the actions taken after this email. If your audience clicked through to your website, what pages did they look at, did they purchase a product or did they download a particular piece of content?

You can track this through Google Analytics or using your platform analytics utilising UTM codes or campaigns.

To make it easier to see the performance of every email, you can create a email report template where you input the relevant data to give you a comparable report for email performance. This can help you benchmark for future emails too.

I want to start with email marketing, whats next?

The best advice I would give is to treat every subscriber with attention and detail and most importantly, like humans!

To get started with your email marketing, research your platform options and create some content that your audience will love.

If you would like some help creating your first email campaign or optimising your email strategy then get in touch with me and I can help!

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