Small business email marketing has become a tent-pole strategy for many small businesses and one you should not do without.
I've put together a list of email marketing best practices you should consider, whether you're just getting started or a seasoned vet there's something for everyone in here.
1. Set a Clear Goal for Every Email
"An email without clarity is like an annoying mime: Just say what you want or get out the way!" - Jordie van Rijn
Never hit that send button without asking yourself, "What do I want to achieve from my email marketing campaign?". Here are a few examples to consider:
- I want to introduce my brand to a bigger market.
- I want more leads for my store.
- I want to generate more sales.
- I want more subscribers.
- I want to add value to my subscribers.
Think long and hard before sending out those emails. The content of your email will definitely show your audience what your intentions are.
When you have a clear goal, it will be very easy to come up with a solid email that will meet your goals.
2. Get Interactive
GIF images and Memes are becoming popular. These funny photos and moving images aim to gain traffic from most social media sites.
They can also be great email content to target an audience from different demographics. Companies have integrated GIF images and Memes into their email marketing strategy as CTA's (Calls-to-action) or just plain gimmicks.
Additionally, you might consider using slideshows, infographics, videos, and podcasts in your content to make your small business email marketing more interactive.
Here is a great example of a marketing meme you can draw inspiration from.
Didn't that make you laugh? When people laugh, they feel good and I think that's a feeling you want people to have when they think of your small business.
It doesn't matter what you choose to use to gain interaction in your email marketing, as long as it is relevant and appropriate for your audience.
3. Combine Gimmick with Personalized Content
Most companies are busy searching for the next big gimmick to trend on Twitter or Facebook. Remember how quickly fidget-spinners spread like wildfire in 2017? It went from zero to sixty like crazy!
Like most trends in business, you should learn how to make your email marketing stand out. Gimmicks are good, but with a personal touch, it becomes great.
Personalize your small business email marketing by:
- Asking the right questions -
Simply ask your customers why they visited your website, why they subscribed, what they love about your company, how to improve your products and services, etc.
This gives you an insight into your customer's needs and wants. It also lets you segment them into different groups for further personalization.
- Considering Time and Location - It's smart to use customer data to send your emails at the best times. The last thing you want to do is send a ton of emails at a time without considering timezones, location, and even preference. You could potentially lose customers and be reported as a spammer if you do this.
- Setting Up Automated Behavioral Trigger Emails - According to kissmetrics.com, behavior-triggered emails are real-time reactions to how your customers are using your product.
You have probably received one from Facebook reminding you that you have not logged into your account after a certain period of time. How can you use behavior-based triggers to improve your email marketing?
4. Don't Forget Your Call-to-Action (CTA)
CTA's are the money-making-machine of your email marketing. They open doors to subscriptions, membership, inquiries, and sales.
Including a CTA in your email campaigns will help encourage your subscribers to take the action you desire.
Here are a few tips:
Start with a strong commanding verb - Start your CTA with words like “buy,” “shop,” or “order”.
Apply words that provoke emotion or enthusiasm - Take a CTA like “buy now and get 50% off!”.
Give them a reason why they should take the desired action - A good example of this would be something like “call today to schedule your free consultation!”.
Take advantage of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) - Best examples are “Shop today! Sale ends on Monday,” and “buy now while supplies last!”.
Know your devices - Your CTA should work on all types of devices (desktop, laptop, smartphone, tablet).
Be creative - Every time you send out emails, your CTAs should be as fresh as possible. Try to change up your wording. Instead of "Check out today's deals!", spice it up with "Tons of deals right at your fingertips!".
Use numbers when possible - Include pricing in your CTA such as “Shop today for TVs under $300!”.
5. Build an Automated Welcome Campaign
It is very important to build a strong lasting impression if you want to succeed in your email marketing campaign.
According to a survey from Ciceron, 83% of brands did not make a good first impression or any impression at all after customers hit the subscribe button.
They also found...
From the Ciceron "The First Impressions Email Marketing Study" (2013)
When you meet someone for the first time you introduce yourself, don't you?
It shouldn't be any different when someone subscribes to your email list. They should receive a series of email messages introducing your company, who you are, what you do, who you can help, and what they can expect from being a subscriber.
Small business owners can save time and energy by automating their welcome email sequence. Fortunately, this is really easy to do with most email marketing platforms through auto responders.
Need an email marketing platform for your business? Here are a few you might want to check out.
6. Don't Be A Spammer
You should know that spamming is illegal in many countries. The US government passed the CAN-SPAM act way back in 2003.
"The CAN-SPAM Act, a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations."
Keep the following tips in mind for your small business email marketing. Disclaimer: I am not an attorney, nor do I pretend to be one. Seek the help of a qualified attorney if you are concerned about CAN-SPAM compliance.
- Include your valid physical postal address in every email you send out.
- Provide a clear and obvious way to opt out of every email you send and honor unsubscribe requests within 10 business days.
- Use clear "From," "To," and "Reply to" language that accurately reflects who you are. This applies to the person or business sending the message, as well as the domain name and email address.
- Sell or transfer any email addresses to another list.
- Make it hard to unsubscribe from emails.
- Use deceptive subject lines in your emails that misrepresent the contents of your message.
7. Mobile Device Users Should be a Priority
The graph below shows how mobile devices dominated major global markets over the past few years.
What does this mean to you? As a small business owner, your email marketing should also revolve around mobile devices. Your emails should be easily scanned and read on smartphones and tablets.
Most people check email from their phones and if they can't easily read your messages on their phone the likely action is to DELETE.
8. Invest Time and Effort in Building an Email List
This probably should have been first on the list, because without a list, the rest of these email marketing best practices don't really matter.
Don't be fooled, building an email list is going to take time and effort to build it, grow it, and maintain it.
Did you know that 30% of subscribers change email addresses and a typical email list loses as much as 25% of its email subscribers every year? Oh yes, it is true.
This means your email list constantly changes. You'll be losing and gaining subscribers all the time.
So, how do you fight this? Quality over Quantity. A list of 100 engaged and active subscribers is far better than a list of 1000 who aren't.
Try these strategies for building a quality email list:
- Make it easy for prospects and customers to sign up and share their email address with your company.
- Your sign up forms should be quick and simple for prospective customers to complete. Don't ask for a laundry list of information, usually, a first name and email address will be sufficient.
- Give your customers a compelling reason to encourage email signups.
- Run a referral email campaign.
- Offer an incentive (Never pay!) to capture new subscribers for your mailing list.
- Keep mobile users in mind when designing sign-up forms.
- Use quick-response (QR) codes on print marketing materials to encourage people to join your email list.
- Offer sign-up forms on other platforms, including your social media sites, blogs, and YouTube videos.
- Ask your current email subscribers to share your content.
- Boost your email list with pay per click advertising.
- Try popup or popover sign-up forms on your website to grow your email list.
- Send a welcome email to prospects and customers who sign up for your email list. (In other words, don't forget #5 above.)
- Have a long-term content creation strategy in place so you can easily add value to your email list.
9. Use Email Metrics to Monitor Progress and Make Smarter Decisions
Here are some of the common email metrics you should consider monitoring.
- Clickthrough rate
- Conversion rate
- Bounce rate
- List growth rate
- Email sharing/forwarding rate
- Overall ROI
10. Test, Edit, and Proofread
Remember the saying "First impressions are not always right"? Well, it is always right in email marketing.
Your audience is drawn to misspelled words, grammatical errors, misuse of punctuation marks, and bad images almost immediately.
They know when the email was rushed. They also know if the email was done by an amateur.The content of your email represents your professional abilities and how you will be perceived.
One of my favorite tools to help make sure my writing is at its best is Grammarly.
11. Your Subject Line is Really Important
Here are some interesting facts from a survey conducted by Convince&Convert.com:
- 33% of email recipients open email based on subject line alone.
- 69% of email recipients report email as based solely on the subject line.
- Emails with “fw:” in the subject line were opened 17% less than those without.
What's this mean for you? Simple, your subject line will determine the effectiveness of your email. If your subject line is weak, then your email message will be weak.
I have a few tips and tricks to improve your subject lines:
- Remember your Audience - Example: “Commute for up to 40% less with XYZ Line.”
- Personalize to Localize - Example: “Hey Tim, ready for Thanksgiving?”
- Keep It Short and Sweet - Example: "Order our best-selling velvet cake now!"
- Convey a Sense of Urgency - Example: "One Day Sale! Hurry!"
12. Combine Your Email Marketing Strategy with Social Media
Do we still need to contemplate the power of social media marketing?
We live in an era where if something is not online, then it doesn't really exist. Your small business email marketing strategy will be much stronger with the help of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
Consider applying the following:
- Always add “connect with” social media icons in your emails.
- Promote your email newsletter on social media networks.
- Don't forget to provide links to share the content in your emails and email newsletters.
- Run a contest on your social media sites and promote it to your email list.
- Offer an option to follow your company on social networking sites on your email unsubscribe page.
13. Discover the Sweet Spot of Your Email Send Frequency
Does an email send frequency sweet spot even exist?
The answer is YES, but it takes a lot of tracking and testing to discover it. Sending too many or too few emails can lead to either lost subscribers or being tagged as spam. Both scenarios are bad.
For more detailed information on email frequency, check out this master guide.
14. Consistent Branding is Key
The key to successful branding is consistency. Providing consistent content, design, and images in your email is really important.
If you sell flowers, then it's common sense to use colorful floral images in your emails. If you sell greeting cards, then you should integrate cool calligraphy fonts in your images.
Also, create a template for your email messages to help you save time and energy.
15. Don't Hesitate to Ask for Help from the Experts
If you dread the thought of email marketing after reading these email marketing best practices, that's OK. The hard truth is not all of us have the knowledge, time, or desire to handle email marketing.
There are experts you can lean on when the need arises. The most important thing is you use email marketing to grow your business one way or the other.
That's it! I'm sure you can use some of these email marketing best practices to improve your email marketing.
Have fun and don't hesitate to reach out if you need help.
Did you find these tips helpful? Feel free to comment below or share.
Need more lead generation tips? Check out our entire Ultimate Guide to Lead Generation.