- Email marketing is an easy, cost-effective way to reach your small business’s target audience.
- Email marketing offers a high return on investment and is straightforward way to automate your marketing efforts.
- To get started with email marketing, choose an email marketing service provider that suits your business. Next, create a compelling reason for target consumers to join your mailing list and send regular communications to your lists, tracking your analytics.
- This article is for small business owners considering implementing an email marketing strategy.
The first email was sent in 1971, and it permanently changed how we communicate with one another. Today, businesses use email to connect with their audience, build credibility in their industry, and increase sales.
If you’re new to email marketing, it’s easy to get started and start seeing results immediately.
What is email marketing?
Email marketing is a marketing strategy that involves sending emails to your target audience. It’s one of the best ways to turn prospects into buyers and one-off customers into engaged and loyal customers.
Your email marketing strategy can encompass sending weekly newsletters, promotional emails, and special deals for customers. It allows you to create a relationship with your audience and steadily build loyalty to your brand.
Key takeaway: Email marketing offers a direct method of communicating with your target audience.
What are the business benefits of email marketing?
For small businesses that don’t have sizable marketing budgets, email marketing can drive impressive results. Below are six of the biggest benefits small businesses can gain through email marketing:
1. High ROI
According to a study from eMarketer, email marketing has a median ROI of 122% – that’s four times higher than any other digital marketing strategy. And if you implement techniques like A/B testing, using a double opt-in, and sticking to a regular schedule, you can increase this number.
To track the ROI of your email campaigns, use the following formula:
Net profit (Gross profits from email marketing – Email marketing costs) / Email marketing costs
For example, if you earned $2,000 in sales from one email marketing campaign after spending $150:
$1,850 ($2,000 – $150.00) / $150 = 12.33
You have an ROI of $12.33. That means for every dollar you spent on the campaign, you earned $12.33 back.
2. Appeal to different segments of your target audience
Email marketing allows you to create targeted campaigns by leveraging data about your email subscribers.
If you’re new to email marketing, creating personalized content can feel daunting and overwhelming at first. However, personalizing your content can be using a subscriber’s first name in your email. Research shows that adding a subscriber’s first name to the subject line can increase email opens by as much as 26%.
As your email list grows and you get more comfortable with email marketing, you can segment your audience based on their age, income level, gender, or how long they’ve been customers.
3. Time and money savings
Most business owners are short on time and money – email marketing is easy to automate, and it’s cost-effective.
When you set up a new email campaign, once you set up your list, determine your offer, and design your email, it automatically sends it to your target list. You can engage with your audience and create new customers even while you’re working on other aspects of running your business.
Of course, you have to track your campaigns and tweak things from time to time, but email marketing is one of the most hands-off marketing strategies there is.
It’s also relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to other methods, like paid advertising. You can develop a professional email campaign that goes to thousands of subscribers for very little money spent.
4. Stronger relationships with customers
Marketing involves demonstrating value to consumers and showing your audience how they can take the next step with your business. Once someone joins your email list, you have an opportunity to send them useful, relevant content.
Every email you send to your customers shouldn’t involve selling them your products or service. You should provide value in your emails. When you can demonstrate to your customers the value you provide to them, they’ll look forward to hearing from you every week.
That value doesn’t always have to be a sale or offer – it can be information that you think they’ll find helpful. For example, you can create an email that links to a recent blog post you wrote.
In your emails, list your social media accounts, and encourage subscribers to connect with you on those channels. Doing this helps build your credibility with your audience and if they are intrigued by a particular email you’ve sent, they can easily learn more about your products or service by clicking on your social media links.
5. Increased sales
Last year and this year have been challenging for small businesses to grow their sales. But email marketing is one of the best ways to grow your sales, especially if traffic to your brick-and-mortar store is down significantly.
Some customers will make a buying decision if they receive a well-timed offer. Adding urgency to your offers, and offering generous sales or free shipping are excellent ways to convert a subscriber to a customer.
Furthermore, email marketing can be a great way to upsell current customers. You can also re-engage customers who haven’t purchased in a while.
By creating personalized and targeted offers for consumers on your list, you can motivate your audience to purchase from your business.
6. A strong following of subscribers
One of the downsides of social media marketing is that you don’t own your followers. If your Facebook Business page is unexpectedly shut down (which isn’t uncommon), you’ll lose access to the following you’ve spent months or even years building.
That’s why it’s important to build an email list. You have a valuable list of customers and a way to contact those customers. Even if you switch email providers, you own the list of your contacts.
Key takeaway: Email marketing is cost-effective, easy to use and boasts a high ROI, making it a great choice for small businesses looking to stretch their marketing dollars.
How to get started with email marketing
Many business owners know they should be building a list of email contacts but aren’t sure where or how to get started. These four steps will walk you through the process.
1. Choose your email provider.
- The provider’s deliverability rate
- Whether the provider offers templates and allows you to customize your emails
- Whether the software is intuitive and user-friendly
- Advanced features the service offers, like A/B testing, analytics and segmentation tools
- The level of customer support the company provides
Once you’ve settled on a service provider, sign up for a free trial (which most providers do). That way, you can test the software to ensure it’s the best fit for your needs.
2. Create a free but compelling opt-in.
You need to give your audience a very good reason why they should join your email list. The best way to incentivize them is by creating a free opt-in.
The type of opt-in you create depends on your customers and their needs. For instance, if you target a B2B audience, you might create an in-depth white paper around a topic they’re interested in.
Once you’ve created your opt-in, you can set up a form on your website. Your audience will sign up with their email address and, from there, they can download your opt-in. You can also promote your opt-in on all of your social media channels to drive more email list sign-ups.
3. Send a weekly newsletter.
Your subscribers want to know what they can expect from you, and the best way to do that is by sending a weekly newsletter.
Your newsletter is another way to share helpful and relevant content with your audience – again, it’s a way you can provide value to subscribers.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when creating your newsletter:
- Use a template to design your newsletter.
- Keep it brief. Your audience may lose interest if your emails are too wordy.
- Personalize the subject line so subscribers are more inclined to open your emails.
- Add a compelling call to action at the end.
- Optimize your newsletter so it looks good on mobile devices.
4. Track your analytics.
Finally, one of the most important aspects of email marketing is tracking your results. Tracking your analytics helps you figure out what resonates with your audience.
One of the first analytics you want to look at is your open rate. Typically, a good email open rate ranges from 15 to 25%.
If you have an open rate under 15%, it could indicate that your subject lines need revising. However, as your email list grows, your open rate will most likely fall.
The next analytic is your click-through rate.
There is a learning curve when you’re getting started with email marketing, but by following the tips in the article and adjusting your strategies as your list grows and you become more comfortable with email marketing (and email marketing software), you’ll find that the benefits are well worth it.
Key takeaway: Partner with a trusted service provider to send your email marketing campaigns, create a compelling opt-in, frequently update your audience with engaging content, and track your analytics to refine your future campaigns.
What Not to do in Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the best ways to speak directly to your audience. You can build a relationship with them and create loyal customers. It is also a great way to generate traffic to your website, increase leads, and execute large campaigns.
With all of the benefits that your company can gain from email marketing, it’s no wonder that 64% of small businesses engage in email marketing. However, there are still a few important things to keep in mind. In order to be successful, you should avoid these 4 mistakes explained by 97 Switch when preparing an email marketing campaign.
Talk About Yourself
Many companies fall into the trap of only talking about themselves. They assume that since their audience signed up for emails, they want to hear all about the company and the sales. While marketing your products or services is important to do sometimes, your audience is still looking for value.
Failing to foster a relationship with them by being too sales-y will lead to unsubscribers and a loss of potential customers.
Instead, it’s important to give the audience something in return for their loyalty. Exclusive deals and sales codes are appreciated, but they also want to see educational or entertaining content in their inbox.
One way to do this is by creating content such as “you asked, we delivered” or “your questions answered” to show that you care about your customers and the feedback they give you, and it builds trust.
It’s also important to speak your audience’s language. Sometimes, companies get too caught up in trying to sound professional and impressive and end up using jargon that’s hard to understand.
Using more simple ways to get your message across is imperative, as it makes the email easier to consume and thus more valuable.
Email Without a Purpose
While building relationships with your customers is one of the main goals of email marketing, you should keep in mind that they don’t want to hear from your company just for the sake of connecting.
Ensure that you have a clear purpose for each email you send, whether that be to inform, entertain, or motivate.
Being intentional about when to reach out includes sending timely emails. You should respond to relevant industry, company, or world news in a timely manner. Readers would find you reminding them about the last day of a sale important, and that qualifies as a purposeful email.
Part of proceeding with a clear purpose is also including a call to action in your emails. Your readers want to know exactly what you’re asking of them, and making it simple is the best way to get it. Beware of including too many calls to action, as it can be more confusing and seem more selfish than helpful.
Personalization is one of the greatest strengths of email marketing, yet it is often overlooked. Simply including first names in an email makes it sound more personal and builds stronger relationships. This can easily be achieved using an email scheduling tool such as Mailchimp. Again, this is a way to build customer relationships. Research shows that using someone’s name in the subject line increases open rates by 26%. Be that as it may, personalization is more than just plugging in names.
Using an email marketing tool is also an easy way to utilize the segmentation aspect of personalization. By separating your audience into groups, you can categorize what they would each be most interested to hear from you.
It has been shown that segmented campaigns perform better than non-segmented campaigns. An example of this is categorizing your readers as beginners, intermediate, or advanced knowledge of your industry. Based on this category, you can send each segment a different email that would pertain to them more specifically.
Your readers will appreciate that your content is tailored to their needs. Imagine sending a beginner an email that skips over the basics of a process. They would be confused and find it very unhelpful.
Now imagine an expert who is wasting time reading the basics that they know by heart. They would become frustrated and lose interest in finishing the email. These are just two examples of using segmentation to better serve your audience.
Use Poor Subject Lines
Often, people will decide whether to open an email at all based on the subject line alone. A mistake that marketers tend to make is wording the subject in a way that sounds like spam, and thus never gets opened or reaches the audience.
As we mentioned before, it is also helpful to include someone’s name in the subject line. While it might seem like a shot in the dark to form an effective subject, there are a few tips for the best open rates you can achieve.
A good subject line should be short. The ideal length for a subject is 7 words, based on a study conducted by Marketo.
However, you also want to make it interesting so that people are curious and want to know more. This curiosity is enough to encourage people to read the email.
However, you want to avoid click-baiting your readers with interesting subject lines that have nothing to do with the content in the email. Make sure that your subject is also relevant to what you have to say. Otherwise, you will have the opposite effect you’d intended by destroying trust and losing credibility.
Simply sending out random emails is not enough to see results. You have to stick to a schedule that your readers can count on and know when to expect to hear from you in their inbox.
The frequency can vary based on your industry and from business to business, but emailing at least once a month is recommended. The more you email, the more you will be on the top of potential customers’ minds when they need what you offer.
That being said, you shouldn’t always assume more contact is better. If your company emails are flooding their inbox, you can bet that they will either block the sender or unsubscribe from future emails. Finding a balance is key to seeing the best results from your campaigns.
You should also consider the brand voice that you are using to speak to your customers. If your emails all sound like they were written by different people, then it’s hard to gain the brand-strengthening benefits of email marketing. It is also confusing to your audience and makes it harder for them to connect with the company.
A good way to remedy this is to create a company persona, where you give a personality to the company that is sending the emails.
Are you funny and witty, or are you serious and somber? Consider strengthening your branding within the company before communicating it with the world.
You can’t expect to be perfect at email marketing, so don’t get discouraged if you find that you have made these mistakes. There is always room for improvements, and every so often it’s a good idea to evaluate how your email marketing campaigns are going.
Using analytics to track your results and adjusting your strategy will help you grow as you fix any mistakes you might be making.
By taking the time to improve your strategy, you will see the success that can carry across all your marketing efforts.
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