Effective email marketing for small businesses means getting your information in front of the right people at the right time. Nowadays, email marketing is an essential aspect of any small business digital marketing strategy, and if done correctly can help build relationships with clients and prospects, gather important data and boost marketing ROI. Additionally, email marketing for small business is cheap and doesn’t have to be time consuming.
Follow our top 10 tips to plan and execute a successful marketing campaign for your small business.
- Get permission
You can’t start an email campaign for your small business without an email list, so your first step is to get your audience to sign up. Easier said than done, right?
To attract an email audience, you need to establish yourself as a voice of authority in whichever area you operate and give your target market a reason to sign up. One of the simplest way to increase your audience is through social media, where you could offer a free eBook, whitepaper, or entry to a competition in exchange for an email address.
You should not ignore your existing contacts in the email marketing for your small business, and you can encourage them to sign up by automating the sign-up process at a time when they are interested. For example:
- A call to action on your Facebook page that links back to a landing page, requiring an email address for access
- An auto-bot response to Facebook messages requesting the messenger to send an email instead
- A share button to your emails will encourage members of your existing list to share the content with their own networks, in turn bringing you more viewers.
- Have interesting content
Everybody’s inbox is overflowing, and you need to give your audience a reason to click the open button. People are generally not interested in the small details of every product offered by your small business, so use your email marketing as a chance to promote your story or to share something useful. People like to read stories or engage with information relevant to themselves, and this is the type of content that will increase your open rate and sharing.
Importantly, you do not want your content to seem like spam. Repetitive emails with the same sales message get boring very quickly, and your audience are unlikely to open the email if they think they’ve seen it before. Ensure your audience know the details of your content through snappy, descriptive headlines and opening text that entices the reader.
Write like you’re talking to a friend. Create an approachable tone, ask questions and use the word “you” to imply a personal quality. Use high quality graphics that relate to your content, and keep the emails short! By limiting the length of your emails, you force yourself to highlight the most salient points and reduce the risk of your audience closing your email before they’ve had a chance to read it all.
- Be relevant
Don’t miss opportunities to connect with your audience at a time that they are most likely looking to purchase. Automated emails should be set up to contact new members of your list whilst your business is still fresh in their minds, within 24 hours of their sign up.
As a small business, you have the flexibility to schedule your email marketing to meet the target audience at the right time. For example, if there is media attention around baby product recalls and you sell quality baby products, NOW is the time to hit your audience with information on how your product is “safe, clean and functional”. Some e-shop platforms even allow you to record and send email reminders to your customers when they have visited your store but not made a purchase. Use this information to your advantage and reach out to customers at the time you know they have been looking to purchase.
- Be generous
Be generous with the content you share, and give your audience a reason to open your next email. Ensure that subscribers benefit in some way by reading your emails, perhaps by sharing a tip, a useful link or a discount code. Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to share information from other complementary sites – rather than sending your customers away, it may help to promote your small business as an authority on your topic – but do be careful not to send readers to your direct competitors!
- Get whitelisted
Whitelisting is the term used to describe adding an email address to a known senders list, so that it isn’t filtered or marked as spam. You can ask readers to manually add you as a contact, but generally only a small percentage of subscribers will actually bother to take this action. Instead, you need to be creative and give your readers a way to engage with the email to show the mail service provider that it is genuine content.
The simplest method to have your small business email address whitelisted is to encourage your subscribers to reply, which you could do through:
- Questions – If you have sent out a welcome gift (such as an eBook or discount code), you could follow up by asking “What did you think of ____?”, or even a general question such as “What is your biggest issue with ____?”.
- Contests – “Hit reply to enter”.
- Surveys – “Hit reply to let me know what you think”
- Requests for tips – “Reader X asked this question. Hit reply to share your tips”
- Introductions – “Hit reply and tell me about yourself”
- Make it personal, but not too personal
Developing a personal tone is essential for engaging your audience in email marketing for your small business, however being too personal can just be creepy. Using names in the greeting is essential, but using names too many times throughout the email can be off-putting and have the reverse effect of a personal tone.
If your email list is large enough, you may have the opportunity to segment your market and send specific content to customers based on their demographics or stage in the buying cycle. What would engage a new prospect who has just engaged with your small business, versus what information would interest a return buyer? A recent study by Mailchimp found that segmented emails achieved a 14% higher open rate and a 101% higher click through rate, so disregarding the opportunity to segment your market can be hugely detrimental to your small business email marketing campaign.
- Send your email from a real person
Use your name in the sender address to show the reader that they are not just being contacted by a nameless body in a corporation – you are a real person and you care. Never send from a noreply email address, as you limit the ability for people to engage with your business.
- Write interesting, clickable subject lines
The subject line is arguably the most important part of the email marketing campaign for your small business, and must be designed to pique the curiosity of the reader. Using numbers or asking questions in the subject line is often very effective, and simple, specific subject lines often have the best results.
Mailchimp ran an interesting analysis of over 12 billion emails to determine which factors of a subject line influenced the click rate, and found that length of the subject line has no correlation whatsoever on click rate, whilst the use of spammy characters and all caps significantly decreased the click rate. With this knowledge, you can design your subject line to contain the salient information without worrying over the number of characters.
- Add images
Using images in your small business email marketing campaign can be extremely effective to help you sell products, but there is a fine line between well-designed graphics for display purposes and overuse of images, which may cause emails to be automatically delivered to the spam folder. Some email service providers block images, so it’s extremely important that you use text to explain the information conveyed in the images, and also make use of alt text (which will display instead of the image). On the same note, do not have any important buttons or links (such as “Click here”) as images only – they should also be included as text.
For email design, you must consider how a viewer will scroll through the email and the pattern that their eyes will follow. Most of your subscribers will probably scan the email for just two seconds before deciding whether to read or not, so make sure the first two inches of your email are persuasive, and only use your most compelling images in this section.
- Manage your email list
In email marketing, the quality of your list is far more important than the quantity. Rather than emailing all of your contacts and risking unsubscribes, take the time to filter your email list and ensure that each recipient is someone who will engage with your content. Using permission based tactics for growing your list will help to build an accurate list, and regular review of which subscribers are viewing your content will enable you to reach out to disengaged subscribers at the right time.
As a final bonus tip, we want to remind you to SPELL CHECK, SPELL CHECK, SPELL CHECK (and don’t forget the grammar, too)! There is nothing that makes your small business seem less professional than an email full of errors, and it’s one of the fastest ways to lose subscribers.
Email marketing for your small business does not have to be a chore, and with proper planning can contribute significantly to your success. By following our tips listed above, you can ensure your small business email marketing campaign will be a success!
Email marketing is a crucial aspect in developing a successful business. For further assistance in discovering engagement tactics for your business, contact the marketing experts at Clarity Marketing on 1300 060 204 or submit an online enquiry.