Easy Email Marketing for Small Businesses
Let’s start with why. Why do you need email marketing? Because it’s by far the most cost-effective form of online marketing. Setting up an email campaign is easy (especially if you decide to use one of the many email marketing platforms out there). You can reach customers directly and build closer relationships with them. And the initial investment won’t set you back much.
Don’t limit your opportunities by thinking that only big companies can benefit from sending out emails. It’s a myth. As long as you have clients to reach, email can help you reach them better than social media can. Actually, email and social media can work quite well together: leverage social media for exposure and engagement, seal the deal with email.
Here’s how to plan a simple email marketing campaign:
1. Build your email list.
You can’t send out emails if you don’t have who to send them to. But getting your clients’ email addresses is not as scary as you think it is. The most straightforward way to go about it is to set up a subscription form on your website. This can be a pop-up or a permanent section on your homepage and blog.
Make sure you include a clear call to action, something like “sign up for our newsletter” or “enter your email to subscribe to…”, and a description of what people are getting in return for their email address. Keep it simple, though! You don’t want to overwhelm your visitors with too much information.
For example, some business owners make the mistake of asking their visitors to fill out a long form that includes name, location, phone number and interests in addition to the email address. I get that you want to gather as much data from your subscribers as possible, but most of your visitors will find these forms annoying and intrusive. You’ll strike out.
Instead, focus just on their email address. It’s what you need to get in touch with them directly and build a relationship. There are other ways to get more detailed information about your visitors’ interests (try analytics, online polls and social media).
2. Plan your emails.
Don’t wait until you gather hundreds of email addresses in your list before you start emailing them. Those five visitors who left their contact info want to be contacted now. They’re interested in what you have to say.
Make a plan and start sending those emails out. Email marketing is easy when you know what type of emails you want to send. Here are a couple of examples to choose from:
Welcome Emails – immediately after signup. Thank your clients for their interest and set their expectations.
Promotional Emails – special offers or sales. Talk about benefits, wow your clients with great deals.
Loyalty Programs – for your faithful customers. Reward the customers who’ve been with you for a while, make them feel appreciated.
Seasonal Messages – mark special occasions like holidays and events. It’s a good way to build better relationships with your audience.
Newsletters – weekly or monthly, but whatever timeline you may choose, be consistent. Include anything that your clients may find useful.
Transactional emails – anything from purchase receipts and order confirmations to notifications and reminders.
Don’t get overwhelmed by all these types of emails. What you send out will greatly depend on what type of business you’re running, so you may only need one or two emails to start with. Think more about your objectives and providing value to your customers than about the number of emails you send out every week.
3. Choose your email design and content.
Now that you’ve established what type of emails you want to send, it’s time to create them. That means writing copy and choosing the design. As you’re doing that, don’t take your eye off the marketing objectives you’ve defined for your business. Stay on message, add value for your clients and conclude with a clear call to action (CTA).
Nevertheless, the key to a good email marketing strategy (no matter how basic) is segmentation. You’ve got to separate your big email list into smaller lists centered around similar interests. This will make it much easier for you to craft a message that fits a specific type of customer.
You can segment your email list based on:
Purchase behavior: how often they buy from you, what they buy and from where, are they interested in promotions, etc.
Loyalty: old or new customers, VIPs, etc.
Demographics: mostly gender, age and location differences.
There are many email marketing platforms that make it easy to design, write and send out your emails, including MailChimp, SendinBlue, ConvertKit or Constant Contact. But setting up any email campaign will require some form of email list segmentation.
4. Learn from results.
Once you hit that send button and your emails go out, sit back, relax and check back for results. There’s a lot you can learn from your campaign analytics, especially if you’re using an email marketing platform to manage your campaigns.
Here are a few things to pay attention to when analyzing results:
Bounce Rates: how many send failures did you have? Why did they fail? You may want to clean up your email list to remove incorrect email addresses.
Open Rates: how many people opened your email? The higher the number the better, but aim for at least 20%. A good subject line can help improve those numbers.
Click Rates: how many people clicked on the link(s) you included in the email? Click rates are important because they measure engagement (and even conversion in some cases). But if you’re not getting the desired results, it’s probably because your CTA is unconvincing or nowhere to be found.
Unsubscribe Rates: how many people choose not to receive your emails? If you’re getting too many unsubscribe requests, you’re either sending people the wrong content, or too much content. Too much of a good thing can be bad!
Don’t skip on analyzing data. Knowing how your customers react to your emails teaches you more about their online behavior, their likes and dislikes, so you can come up with more useful/effective content in your future campaigns. Learn as much as you can about your customers and keep polishing those emails.
5. Bonus tip
Encourage people to join your email list wherever and whenever you can. You’re allowed to get creative!
In addition to including a signup form on your website, you can encourage signups by offering giveaways, by providing an option to receive emails in the checkout section of your online store, or by asking buyers in your physical store to leave their email for special offers, discounts or more information.
And one last thing, include a subscription option even in the footer of the emails you send out. That way, if the email gets forwarded to friends or family, they can also subscribe to your mailing list. Think of the exposure!
If you’re interested in more marketing tactics for small businesses, you may also want to check out our social media marketing tips.
Have you seen the NerdPilots Store? You can get a lot of marketing goodies for your website in there!