Email marketing is a powerful, highly effective tool for engaging customers and prospects for businesses of every size. It’s used by Fortune 500 corporations and start-ups alike. But the strategies your small business should use in creating an email marketing plan look different than those big corporations.
In the last few weeks, we’ve covered the basics of email marketing, how to find the email marketing strategy that works for you, and the many types of email marketing.
Today, we’ll cover how to make email marketing work most effectively for small businesses like yours.
Email Marketing for Small Businesses
The basics of email marketing apply to businesses of every size.
You need to:
- create content that speaks to the needs and desires of your target audience
- send emails consistently
- create the types of campaigns that work well for your needs
But small businesses have different needs – and certainly a much smaller budget for all types of marketing. That doesn’t mean email marketing won’t work for you. It does mean you need to be more thoughtful and strategic about where you put your efforts in order to succeed, though.
Choose an Affordable Email Marketing Service
Email marketing is tempting to many small business owners for one big reason – you can do it for free when you’re getting started. And if you’re a small shop with little to no marketing budget, that’s a great option. It gets you into the email marketing game with no barrier to entry except a small investment of time. And this can make all the difference in growing your business.
But it doesn’t mean you need to stick with free email marketing tools forever. Free plans like Mailchimp don’t usually include the option to set up automated email series. Yet these are vital to growing your business effectively (see the section below for more info).
If you have a marketing budget, even if it’s a small one, you might be better served by investing a few more dollars per month. It’s a cost-effective way to get a lot of increased functionality that can make significantly more sales for you.
Check out our email marketing basics post for a rundown of the most popular email marketing platforms and what each one includes.
Why You Need to Nurture
Marketing automation can sound intimidating – fancy, complex, and too expensive for anyone but the biggest businesses to do well.
But with the speed that technology is making more possible for less money, that’s just not the case anymore. Even a very small business can set up a basic email automation system to nurture prospects to a sale.
Nurturing your email subscribers could look like this:
- They sign up for emails in exchange for a lead magnet on your website
- You send out a series of 5-7 targeted, well-written emails, each spaced apart by a few days or a week so it’s not overwhelming
- These emails introduce your business, offer valuable information and content, and give a soft sales pitch in the final email
- You check your email open and CTR data to find prospects who are interested in what you’re offering, and funnel those into further email campaigns or give them a sales call
It’s a low-touch way for small business owners, who have a lot on their plate, to nurture prospects and get them ready to make a purchase without having to invest hours in each one individually.
Integrating Email into Digital Marketing for Your Small Business
Email marketing is really powerful – but it shouldn’t be the only tool in your digital marketing toolbox.
It’s important for small businesses to focus on just a few avenues for marketing, as you don’t want to spread yourself too thin. Hence, you should incorporate a few additional digital marketing tactics that can increase the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns.
Your digital presence is one piece of the puzzle that is absolutely too critical to ignore. While you don’t need a flashy website with the latest design features, you do need a clear, compelling web presence for your business.
You might need to add on a landing page or two where your email marketing prospects land when they want to learn more about what you offer as well.
Your email newsletter is also a great place to bring together your other digital marketing efforts.
- Include a snapshot of your popular recent social media post to give it an additional boost, and ask readers to contribute their own content to your user-generated campaign.
- Share the last few blog posts you created as part of your content marketing campaign.
- Ask for feedback about the latest product rollout to get some real-time voice of the customer.
The possibilities are endless – just be thoughtful and intentional about connecting those dots to maximize your efforts.
Avoid These Common Small Business Email Marketing Mistakes
Now that you know the right way to approach email marketing for your small business, it’s also important to look at the common mistakes small business owners make when they’re setting up their email marketing campaigns. They’ll help you avoid the errors and pitfalls we see most often.
Choosing the Wrong Timing
This is a huge mistake many small businesses make. Are you sending three emails a day – or two emails a year? You need to hit the sweet spot of sending enough emails to remind prospects and customers of your offerings, while not becoming spam.
How often should your small business send marketing emails?
There’s no one simple answer that is right for every single small business out there. But a few ground rules apply to everyone. Sending multiple emails a day, every day, is too much. It will annoy your customers – even the ones that like you – and get you marked as spam by email services.
But you should also send out emails more than a handful of times per year. If you find you need to step up the frequency of emails, aiming for once per month is a good place to start and is achievable for busy business owners. Just be sure to make that one email per month great, and you’ll be making progress.
Not Cleaning Your Lists Carefully
Does this sound familiar? You’re browsing through your email inbox at the beginning of the workday and suddenly an email pops up from a business you haven’t visited in years with an update you’re not interested in. That’s annoying, at best, and it’s bad marketing.
Remember the deluge of emails we all got in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic telling you how that restaurant you visited once five years ago in another state was keeping up with cleaning protocols? That was an extreme example of how more small businesses need to keep their email lists up to date.
How often are you going through your email subscriber list and clearing out those who haven’t opened an email in years?
It should probably be more often. This is especially important if you’re relying on a low-cost or free email marketing service like Mailchimp that charges you more to send to more subscribers. As a result, you’re throwing away valuable marketing dollars on people who aren’t going to make a purchase.
Failing to Keep it Professional
We all love an occasional quirky email from the small business down the street – it shows personality and authenticity that’s often lacking in those hyper-polished corporate emails.
But there is a line between authentic and unprofessional. Your marketing emails represent your business. That means they should be well-written, checked carefully for spelling and grammar errors, and have accurate dates, times and locations.
Does this format sound a bit basic? We’ve all received emails from businesses that have decreased our trust in their authority because they can’t seem to get the basics right. Don’t let that happen to you – get a second pair of eyes on that email before you hit send or your credibility might suffer.
Small Business Essentials for Email Marketing
Your small business can benefit from incorporating email marketing into your digital marketing tactics. It’s affordable, it’s highly effective, and it’s possible to do it all in-house or on your own.
But as you grow, you might find that keeping up with a consistent email marketing schedule is harder and harder.
Or your campaigns aren’t working as well as they used to, and you don’t know why.
Or perhaps you know you need to significantly grow your email marketing campaigns to reach a new target audience, but you just aren’t sure of the right way to begin.
Since email marketing has such a high ROI for even the smallest businesses, this could be a great place to bring in a helping hand to help you make the most of your email campaigns.
Looking for Help Creating Marketing Emails to Get Results?
Are you unsure about what types of email marketing your business should be using? Or maybe you don’t know how to create effective emails that build your brand and your business?
At Content First Marketing, we understand the challenges small business owners like yourself face when you want to grow your business sustainably. We’re here to help you create the perfect email marketing plan, write compelling emails that convert your prospects to customers, and measure your results so you know your plan is working.
Schedule a free business review here to find out how we help businesses grow. You can use these insights for inspiration, and let us do the marketing for you.