Small Business Email Marketing: Beginner’s Guide For 2020

Small Business Email Marketing: Beginner’s Guide For 2020
Jordan Henri
Jordan Henri Mar 12, 2020 — 10 min read
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So, you’re planning to give your business a boost in 2020.

You know that having a high-quality product isn’t enough if you don’t have an audience and a surefire strategy to reach it. And you’ve probably heard that the best channel for reaching that audience is email.

But you have no idea where to start.

Don’t worry. This post is a beginner’s guide to the world of small business email marketing and we’ve collected plenty of tips to help you get started.

Why email marketing?

Before we get to the actionable tips, let’s sort one thing out.

Email marketing. What exactly does this frequently used buzz phrase mean?

Simply put, businesses use email marketing to engage with their customers and promote products or services via email. This could be anything from a signup confirmation email to a promo code offering a discount for their next purchase.

The most exciting part? Email has the highest ROI among all marketing channels because of how personalized the messages can be and because you get to communicate with the audience right there, in their inboxes.

The average return on investment for a small business email marketing campaign is around 3800%.

In simpler terms, that’s $38 for every $1 you put into it. Crazy, isn’t it? This is why as a small business, email marketing is nearly essential to your success.

Now before you get too excited, you should know that all great things are planned out first.

Where do you start? What tools do you use? How do you know if your small business email marketing strategy is working?

Sit back and relax. The answers lie just up ahead.

Step 1. Invest heavily into email list building

It’s hard to get your emails out there if you have no one to email, isn’t it?

If that’s the case, a good idea would be to start collecting the email addresses of your potential customers.

But how do you do this? Here are a few tips.

Prepare an effective lead magnet

A great place to start is creating a lead magnet – because we all know that nobody is excited to subscribe to the company news anymore.

In email marketing, a lead magnet is an incentive offered to customers in exchange for their email address.

Here’s an example from a smaller shoe company, Thursday Boots. As you can see, in exchange for your email, Thursday Boots offers access to an “exclusive first look” of the new products on their website.

Email subscription form with a lead magnet example

Simple, yet effective.

Depending on your niche you can pick any other relevant lead magnet. Offer discount codes, special deals, exclusive access to limited collections, or even eBooks and cheat sheets. Think of them as the value you offer in return for the right to reach your customers’ inboxes.

Reward them, and they will reward you.

Create email subscription popups

This goes hand in hand with the lead magnet.

Once you come up with a good incentive to join your email list, how do you get it in front of your potential subscribers? Two words: email popups.

Now, you don’t want to have an obnoxious popup on your website to scare your customers away. That isn’t the goal. The goal is to create a popup that will be both effective and beautiful – preferably the same theme as your website.

This is where Getsitecontrol comes in handy. It helps you build stunning email newsletter popups without any technical skills. And then you can use these popups to target specific audiences, promote lead magnets, announce special deals, and more. Make a click on the subscription form above to see it in action and follow the instructions if you want to quickly add it to your website.

Now, how efficient are popups? That depends on how good your content is.

For example, Business Know-How has doubled the number of daily subscribers just by implementing a Getsitecontrol email signup popup on their website. Before, they were using subscription forms placed in-line with the content. After adding popups – even without any lead magnet – the email signup rate doubled within a week.

Choose your CTA (call to action) language wisely

Your call to action can make or break your email list building strategy. No, that is not an exaggeration.

With the proper choice of words in your CTA, you can convey humor. You can make people feel like they’re part of an exclusive club. You can highlight the value of joining your email list.

You don’t have much room on that email signup button, that’s true. But getting away with the generic “Subscribe” shouldn’t be an option when there are so many ways to make your call to action more engaging. If you want to learn more, read our guide to choosing the right call-to-action words for your email signup button.

Step 2. Knock it out of the park with your welcome email

Now that you know the basics of building an email list, it’s time to talk about starting a conversation with your subscribers.

Why is that important? Because first impressions last. This is especially true for small business email marketing campaigns.

You want to craft an email that looks nice, has a simple yet captivating design, and provides value to the reader. At this point, the goal is to get new subscribers to engage, and below are the tips to help you achieve it.

Be quick about it

You should aim to get your welcome email to your subscriber the same day they subscribe.

Why is this?

For starters, welcome emails have a much higher open rate than any other email sent from your campaign. That means, the faster you send your welcome email, the sooner it will be opened, and the sooner you’ll get the opportunity to kickstart the engagement.

A whopping 76% of people expect their welcome email on the same day they subscribe.

It’s safe to say you shouldn’t slack on that welcome email.

Include offers and deals

Combine this with the above advice.

A timely email sent with an exclusive offer? Win-win situation!

A percentage off items in-store, access to exclusive sales, or anything similar is enough to intrigue customers and encourage them to visit your website right from the welcome email.

Look at how Banana Republic does it:

Welcome email from Banana Republic featuring exclusive offers

Simply by joining their email list, you receive access to sales, coupon offers, and even a 15% off coupon for your next purchase.

Pretty sweet deal for an email address.

Use this tactic to your advantage. Secure the relationships using exclusive offers available for new subscribers only.

Create a cohesive and attractive design

Nobody wants to look at ugly emails, and much less – click through them.

That is why the design of your emails is vital. People are drawn to stunning visuals and you will certainly see more engagement from an attractive template.

For higher engagement, make sure to use:

  • Concise copy

  • Clear call to action

  • Relevant image

  • Modern color scheme

  • Videos or GIFs (if applicable)

With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to create a welcome email that produces the right first impression and kickstarts long-lasting relationships with the customer.

Remember the importance of the subject line

This might be the most important tip of all. Look at your email inbox. What is one of the first things you see?

That’s right. The subject line.

If your subject line blends with the rest, chances are, your email won’t even get opened.

This is why you need to make sure your subject line has a hook — something to make the recipient want to open your email.

Some of the best practices are to include:

  • urgency,

  • personalization,

  • or even intrigue.

Subject line examples to boost open rates

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to create an engaging subject line. Make use of these examples (and the examples from your own inbox) to ensure your open rate is high.

Step 3. Set up automated emails

Who has time to sit down and write new emails for every new subscriber? Or time to craft that perfect piece showcasing the latest sale on your website?

Thankfully, this isn’t necessary.

Modern email marketing tools have built-in functionality for sending automated emails. Most of them take it even further and will automatically send emails to certain groups of people based on their behavior on your website.

So how can you put this into best practice?

Start with abandoned cart emails

Sending abandoned cart emails is an incredibly efficient email marketing tactic for small businesses. You may want to consider starting your automation strategy with it.

Say you have a customer on your website. They like what you’re selling, decide to fill their online cart with products, then get distracted, abandon their cart, and leave your site.

Sucks, doesn’t it?

Hit them with an abandoned cart email.

This type of email can be automated to be sent to any subscriber who fits the above-described criteria. They come close to purchasing, but ultimately either get distracted by something else or decide not to purchase the products.

Technically, people abandoning shopping carts are hot leads. Of course, you should try and reach them with a reminder.

Moosend tested a few theories on abandoned cart emails and discovered that nearly half of them were opened. Of those, 21% received click-throughs, and then a further 50% of the click-throughs resulted in purchases.

These numbers should be convincing enough for you to add emails triggered by cart abandonment to your strategy.

Automate, but don’t forget to personalize

Nobody wants to feel like they’re talking to a robot.

While automation can be convenient, don’t fall into the trap of forgetting to use personalization. Personalized emails get higher open rates, higher click-through rates, and bring more conversions.

Usually, your email marketing software will allow you to implement personalization easily, at least at the basic level. For instance, the easiest way to start is by using the subscriber’s name in your copy.

Just by adding a subscriber’s name to the subject line, you can boost the open rate by 26%, according to Campaign Monitor.

As you gain more experience, you’ll be able to perform deeper-level personalization tactics. For instance, you can set your email content to dynamically change based on the recipient’s gender, location, or behavior.

Step 4. Make the most of segmentation

You’re up to speed on capturing email addresses. The perfect welcome email has been crafted. You even have a program sending the emails for you. Seems like you’ve got this email marketing thing down.

There’s just one more important tactic to look at when crafting your small business email marketing campaign. It’s the art of segmentation.

What is segmentation exactly?

You want your emails to go to a relevant audience, don’t you? Segmentation involves splitting your list into different groups. From there, these different groups will receive emails tailored to their interests.

Let’s say you have a pet store. You don’t want to send emails regarding dog food offers to someone who recently purchased cat toys from you. Dividing your list into different groups can help you avoid this.

You can segment your list by:

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Profession

  • Buying behavior

  • Purchase interests, and more.

Choosing the demographics is crucial for creating personalized emails that will convert well.

For instance, I purchased a laptop from Best Buy recently, and they decided to send me this:

Interest-based email segmentation example by Best Buy

Tech offers. For a guy who just bought a laptop. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

Bottom line? Segmentation helps you ensure your emails go to the right people. This extra layer of personalization maximizes engagement and keeps your list growing.

Step 5. Analyze, rinse, and repeat

Having a good small business email marketing strategy is one thing. Knowing if your efforts are paying off is another.

There’s no way to effectively modify your strategy if you have no idea how well it’s performing. And that’s where analytics come into play.

Your email marketing software will provide you with performance insights. Using this tool correctly you’ll be able to tell what’s working well and what isn’t. With this information, you can focus your efforts on the aspects that require attention.

But what should you measure exactly? Great question.

We’ve already talked about open rates and how email subject has a direct impact on whether your subscribers open emails from you. But there are a few other factors you should consider when analyzing your email marketing campaigns.

Check your click-through rates

Probably the easiest way to understand if your strategy is working is to have a look at your click-through rates.

One of your objectives is to have customers click that call-to-action button, right? Naturally, you want to maximize your click-through rate as best as you can.

If your click-through rates are lower than anticipated though, here are a few possible reasons:

  • Your subject line is misleading

  • Your call to action is unclear

  • Your email design is confusing

  • Your email list isn’t segmented properly

  • Your emails lack personalization

With this in mind, run a quick audit of your emails and see where the weak spot might be. Before you do that, remember to compare your results to your industry email marketing benchmarks instead of guessing whether your numbers are above or below average.

Keep an eye on conversion rates

Conversions are the reason why you decided to get started with email marketing in the first place.

If your goal is to drive customers to your website and get them to make a purchase, download a file, or fill out a form – you want to keep track of how well your emails work for achieving this goal.

Tracking conversions from your email marketing campaigns is easy if you already have a web analytics tool. All you need is to add UTM tags to the links leading to your website.

The key to high conversion rates is meeting the expectations of the person clicking the CTA button.

In other words, if your email is announcing a sale of a certain product category, the link on the button should lead exactly to the page with the category on sale. If you link to your home page, for example, the customer might just get confused and click away thus preventing a potential sale.

Choose the right email marketing tool

It’s important to choose the right email marketing service that allows you to craft appealing emails as well as gather performance metrics. While most programs have analytics tools built-in, some are easier to use than others.

For example, if you choose a program like Mailchimp, the stats of your email marketing campaign are all visible from one easy-to-read dashboard. But Mailchimp is not the only solution that works well for small businesses. Check out our email marketing service roundup and consider testing at least a couple of programs before making a decision.

Now that you know where to start…

Use these tips to kickstart your small business email marketing strategy, but don’t forget to continue learning as you go.

The world of email marketing is vast and constantly changing.

However, if you plan accordingly, put time and effort into your emails and analyze the results, you’re setting yourself up for success.

Are you ready to dive head-first into email marketing?

Jordan Henri is a freelance writer for hire specializing in digital marketing content such as email marketing, social media marketing, and content marketing. With careful word choice and top-notch SEO knowledge, he helps businesses achieve their content goals. When not writing, you can find Jordan spending time with his family, playing music or out in nature.

Main illustration by Icons8

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