If your business is small, why aren’t you doing email marketing?
We get it, Karen. You don’t realize email marketing works just as well for small businesses as it does for large ones. But we do.
For one thing, it’s the most inexpensive marketing strategy out there. Secondly, it’ll help you get a return that’s four times higher than any other marketing strategy. Unless of course, you think investing a single dollar and getting over $40 back in your pocket isn’t a good deal. Which means you’re nuts.
You’re lucky to be reading this in 2022, you know. Back in the day, we didn’t have a lot of automation going on, and we had to work harder. Now, email marketing will tell you pretty much everything you need to know.
Of course, you’ve got a bit of homework yourself. There are five key things you must do to set your small business up for email marketing success. And we’ll cover each of them in detail:
- First, gather everyone ‘round.
- Next, get some automated help.
- Go easy on the offers.
- Bring your emails to life.
- Make it easy for everyone to consume your content.
- Finally, cross your fingers. And then repeat.
You’ve been procrastinating on email marketing for too long now. Probably because you believed some internet jerk who told you it wasn’t worth it.
Forget all about that. This is your sign from the universe to start doing it, and we’ll show you how.
Brick by Brick, Build Your List
By “building a list”, we mean capturing leads. AKA the people who will flirt with your solution for a while and buy it down the funnel. We hope so!
You’ll do that by creating an attractive opt-in form, like this one:
That one’s pretty simple, but an average example. It has a great no-spam reminder, by the way.
“Capture” is a strong word because you’re not preying on your visitors. Instead, you’re just giving them something in exchange for their interest — something that’ll be of use to them in the foreseeable future.
Here’s what you’ll do: first, you’ve got to convince them to opt into your list. There’s a bunch of stuff you can offer to transition people from visitors to leads. They include:
- Free trials
- More, a lot more
The purpose of creating free content isn’t to waste your time. In essence, it’s about stating your brand’s value from the beginning. Starting on a good note, you know?
Now, pay attention to this:
There has to be a connection between the free product you offer in your lead magnet and the paid products you offer your customers. Does that seem like a no-brainer to you? Good. Because not all business owners think this way.
You only want highly qualified leads to enter your email list. You can also call them “the ones who are ready to buy your product when they reach the end of the funnel”. Think about it: if they’re that interested in your free product, they’re on the brink of accepting the paid version. All you have to do is push the right buttons and increase their intent.
Remember to show your lead magnet off everywhere. Don’t only make them pop-ups on your website; invite people to join your list somewhere in your blog posts, too. Add opt-in forms to your website’s footer and sidebar. Don’t let the visitors slip through your fingers!
Choose a Good Email Marketing Service (for Small Businesses)
Notice how we didn’t say “the best”. There’s no telling which email marketing service is the winner. This part’s on you, but the least we can do is give you a nudge. We also go into more depth on the topic here.
Start by shutting down the naysayers. You don’t need hundreds of thousands of subscribers to start an email list. Most of the time, you’ll need to spend little to no money in the beginning. If you have up to 1,000 (or sometimes 2,000) subscribers, you’ll pay a total of $0.
Here are a few starting prices from email marketing software you’ve heard about:
MailerLite: Up to 1,000 subscribers, you can send unlimited emails for $10 or 12,000 emails a month for…$0.
Sendinblue: Will you be sending up to 300 emails a month? Then you’ll pay nothing. $25/month will let you send up to 10,000 emails a month. That’s the same price as the useless stuff you buy online for no reason.
Campaign Monitor: For up to 2,500 emails a month, you’ll pay a colossal…$9.
We’d run out of space if we listed all the email marketing software you could use. So we’ll just leave you with this post.
The bottom line is: you can enjoy the free version of some of the greatest software out there while sending kickass emails. For beginners and small businesses like yours (depending on the number of team members), the plan’s pricing will always be lower. Rejoice!
Wait, That’s Too Many Emails!
It’s understandable why marketers send so many emails to the point your patience wears thin.
They wonder if people will ever see their emails. If people will respond. If people will care. So they send one too many, just in case.
While it’s understandable, it’s not acceptable.
See, people have an inbred defense mechanism when entering an email list. They already know your little secret. They know one sign-up is enough to leave their email inboxes looking like this.
This is often common with newsletters. Not everyone has the time to read a newsletter every week. Most times, they don’t even want to, so they just forget about it.
Why not make it a bi-weekly newsletter, instead? Or maybe even a monthly newsletter?
We know what you’re thinking. “If I do it sparingly, the audience will forget about me. Or worse, they’ll unsubscribe because I don’t provide enough content.”
Like hell they will.
Emailing them every now and again means you’ll have enough time to create content your audience wants to read. You know, without being “that” business. But first, people should want to see it.
You can increase that chance by letting them choose whether they just want to be emailed once or keep receiving your emails.
Permission-based email marketing reduces bounce rates, meaning those authorized emails won’t end up in a spam folder. Here’s what a permission-based lead magnet looks like:
Let people choose what they want by checking those little circles, and they’ll be much happier with your brand.
What’s more, with the stellar email marketing solutions mentioned in the first topic, you can also segment your audience and send behavioral triggers. This way, you’ll rarely have to worry about calculating email send times. It’s automation in all its glory. Bow down to it.
Your Emails Should Look Like Your Brand’s Child
Want to make your emails stand out from all the others you see out there? It’s simple: use your branding as a differentiator.
Your brand’s personality is the one asset that overpowers every other “differentiator” out there. To be honest, a lot of differentiators have already become stale. This is the apex of marketing sophistication, but this is a subject for another article.
We won’t be getting into a lot of detail, as you’ll find a lot of personalization options depending on the marketing software you’re using. Still, keep the following practices in mind:
Put a lot of effort into your subject lines: Ever looked at a subject line and just knew it was from a certain brand? If you haven’t, you can be the first brand to do it. Here’s a tip for your next subject line: flirt with the reader and leave. Say something interesting, and leave them hanging. The following subject lines did just that:
Our worst-performing LinkedIN ads – Joanna Wiebe
4 words you DON’T wanna hear… – Marie Forleo
Please don’t eat the beard oil – Beardbrand
Let the design show off your brand: You won’t always compile emails using garish HTML templates. Sometimes, plain-text emails can be just as compelling, by the way. Still, all of your emails should flaunt your brand, first thing.
Your logo should always be on top of your email, regardless of what you sell. The following example from Yoast shows how plain-text doesn’t mean plain Jane.
Now, if you’re going to create a full-on visual email like this one from The New Yorker…
… then your email should match your brand colors, fonts, and everything in-between. See how the template above screams The New Yorker? The fonts, the colors… it imitates the campaigns they post on Instagram, as well as their banner ads.
This strategy increases your brand awareness, as well as the chance of people recognizing your emails at a glance. Do it.
Copy: Your email copy should sound like your social media copy, which should sound like your website copy. Which, in turn, should sound like your brand’s voice. This topic goes way back to when you first started developing your branding. If you haven’t yet decided on your brand’s voice, we highly recommend you do.
Here’s an example. Copywriting and marketing blog CopyHackers is known for its witty and snappy language. This is how an average email from them sounds:
If you go to any of their blog posts right now, you’ll notice how they sound just like that. Go to their social media…same thing. Find your brand’s voice and stick with it in every piece of copy you write, especially emails.
Golden Tip: Make Your Emails Accessible
Speaking of differentiators. Want to know another scarce differentiator? Accessibility. It creates strong brands. Why? Because accessibility drives brand insistence and preference. It’s not only about purchasing from a brand you love — it’s about having that brand understand your needs and retrieving the favor.
Strong brands have their community in mind. In the digital age, you can show support starting with accessible emails. To do that, just follow a few simple rules:
- Avoid tiny fonts or hard-to-read fonts.
- Describe images using ALT tags.
- Harness the power of contrasting colors.
- Add headers and subheaders to your content, so screen readers can better analyze content hierarchy.
- Click here sounds bad for everyone. If you’re linking to a page, use a readable anchor text like this one.
Sit Back, Wait, and Analyze
Now that you’ve done what you had to do, it’s time to let your emails work their magic. Give yourself some credit.
Here comes the time everybody’s been waiting for: analyzing your email marketing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
The meaning of this jargon is simple. KPIs are the analytics that measure how your emails are performing and whether you need to change your strategy. It’s like playing games: sometimes you just have to change your strategy to make things work out.
Here are the most important KPIs you should measure, with data borrowed from CampaignMonitor.
- Bounce rates: Are you sure your emails are reaching your subscribers’ inbox? It’s a bummer, but they may not be. What we call “bounce rate” is the percentage of emails that haven’t reached recipients. That’s why quality emails and permission-based emails should be your priorities. We also run an email verification service that can help.
- Open rates: This is the percentage of subscribers who open your emails, and hopefully read them. The average open rate is 18.0%
- Click-through rate (CTR): The CTR measures the percentage of people who clicked through any link or CTA you’ve included in your email. The average CTR is 2.6%.
- Conversion rate: How many of your emails lead to a sale? The conversion rate will tell you that. With an average of 1.22%, the CR is an indication of whether you should stick with what you’re doing or adjust your email marketing strategy.
- Unsubscribe rate: Lastly, the saddest metric. This one will show you the percentage of people who have given up on being a part of your list. If your unsubscribe rate goes over 0.5%, you’ve got to change something.
A Word of Advice: Don’t Expect Big Results From the Start
The big guys have sent thousands of emails ever since they got started, and have surely faced a lot of bounces and unsubscribes. It happens to the best of us. Otherwise, the above metrics wouldn’t be a thing, would they?
Whether you wish to remain a small business or grow like a weed, email marketing is the straight path leading your business goals to your customer’s goals. They’ve got a problem, and you’ve got the solution. Go for it.