In 2019, almost any skill or talent can lead to a genuine business idea, thanks to the perks of the world-wide-web.
This is why more and more people choose to leave their day job behind and explore the unknown, through starting their own business.
Unfortunately, not everyone has a clear lead generation strategy and even if they do, most don’t utilize the most powerful marketing tools.
The majority has yet to realize how small business email marketing can turn one’s passion into a dream job.
This is why, in today’s article, we will give you some tips to help you grow your business’s email list and, as a result, your revenue.
Small business email marketing Tips
Did you know that email marketing has the highest potential ROI compared to all other digital marketing methods?
That’s right. For every $1 spent on email marketing, you can expect to receive $38 in return.
We have compiled a list of 19 tips that will turn you into an email marketing pro, and make this digital marketing channel one of the best, if not the only, source for new clients.
Add a subscription box to your website
If you are in the process of creating your own small business, or if you already are a business owner, you probably have your own website.
Have you ever imagined how your customer’s journey looks like when they decide to check your page?
They probably go to your online store (if you sell products) or check the testimonials. If they like what they see they may even read a couple of your blog posts.
All these actions are opportunities to turn this reader into a subscriber.
Here is what I mean by that.
Once a user clicks on a blog post that interests them and reads through it, they have shown interest in the topics you are talking about.
This is the best moment to ask for their email address through a subscription box. And you implement this to your small business email marketing strategy by adding one of the following:
- Pop-up box
These are the forms that pop-up on your screen when you perform one or more actions on a website. They will generally ask you to give your email address so they can send you more useful information through email.
- Slide-in box
What makes these forms different is that they do not disturb your reading experience by “popping-up” and blurring your text. You can choose to ignore them and keep on reading.
- Inline opt-in forms
Also known as “embed forms”, these subscription boxes are placed strategically within the content of a page, asking for your email address. Much like pop-ups, these forms are also used to capture an email address in exchange for some sort of value.
Add a double opt-in
A double opt-in refers to the process of confirming a new subscriber upon signing up to your email marketing list.
This is done by sending an email upon registration, where the user has to press on a link to confirm his subscription to your mailing list.
Double opt-ins serve many purposes. Not only do they ensure that the email address you receive is the actual email of the reader, but they also lower your spam score over time, since you are guaranteed to see higher open-rates in the long term.
Create a lead magnet
Now, adding a subscription form may be easy to do, but how do you ensure that this will actually lead to new signups?
The best small business email marketing tactic here is to create a lead magnet.
A lead magnet is a form of content that is offered to people that visit your website, in exchange for their email address. Users usually receive the lead magnet in the form of digital, downloadable content, such as a free ebook, a checklist or a useful infographic.
Make sure that your lead magnet is relevant to your audience and that they can find genuine value from putting its contents into practice.
Make a good first impression
The first email a new subscriber receives in his inbox is probably an automated “welcome email” that is accompanied by the downloadable lead magnet.
Don’t take this email lightly. Make sure your first email is highly personalized, packed with value and reflecting your brand’s tone of voice and values.
If you don’t pay enough attention to your first email, you may see your new list additions unsubscribe immediately.
Add personalization elements
You can easily check how a customer signed up to your mailing list by going through their journey on your website.
- Did they offer their email in exchange for a specific lead magnet?
- Was an order placed under their email address?
- Did they sign up to a giveaway you are hosting?
The method with which a customer signs up to your list will determine the segment they will be placed in. Each segment has a set of similarities or common goals/wishes/challenges.
Add personalization to your email by:
- Using your reader’s name within the subject line and the body of the email
- Relating to the segment’s challenges and offering specific solutions
- Offering discounts, freebies or limited offers that suit your reader’s needs
- Offer a strong Call to Action (CTA) that is relevant to the segment
You can find more information about email personalization here.
Write a great subject line
The subject line will determine whether or not a subscriber will open and read your email.
This part of your email has to be both simple and value-packed while inducing curiosity to the readers.
Here are some tips to remember when writing your subject line:
- Use strong words that evoke your reader’s emotions. Words like “ultimate”, “epic”, “now”, “only today” are guaranteed to make the reader at least curious to open your email. Make sure, however, that your use of words will not be excessive, or you might end up in your subscriber’s spam box.
- Add value to your subject line even if it just a single word. Offer an opportunity, a discount, a time-bound offer or an interesting fact that will make the reader open and read your email.
- Adding numbers can also be a valuable tip for your subject line. Whether that number is related to the value you offer, the time left to respond to a CTA or simply to reinforce a fact, adding numbers can give a quick overview of what your email is all about.
- Use emojis to give a more relaxed tone to your emails and stimulate relatability. In turn, readers may find this creative touch interesting, as it will make your email stand out in an otherwise boring inbox. Keep in mind that emojis are not always a good idea. If your brand has a more professional and business oriented tone, you might find more value by skipping this step.
Keep your emails short
Long and chunky paragraphs of text can quickly turn your readers away.
Especially when it comes to small business email marketing, your reader needs to understand your email’s message by simply scanning through it.
In this case, it might serve you to put yourself in your reader’s shoes.
They likely have an overcrowded inbox, a busy daily life and only a few seconds of attention to spare.
Wouldn’t it be best to convey the message in a few short paragraphs?
A great example of short and value-packed emails comes from Tim Ferriss’s 5-bullet Friday:
Compared to other business newsletters this really is a short and value-packed winner. Each topic has a few lines describing it and a link for those that are interested in finding out more.
Be consistent with your mailing frequency
When a reader subscribes to your mailing list they expect to receive your emails with a certain frequency.
Whether that is once a month or once per day, what matters is not the volume of emails, but rather the consistency.
If you promise to send one weekly email (e.g. weekly newsletter), only to later send them emails daily, you may soon see more unsubscribes and lower open rates.
For that reason, when a new subscriber joins your list, make sure to inform them about your mailing frequency.
Start sending emails early on
An email list is not built overnight. When it comes to small business email marketing, you will gain a lot more value in the long term by building a list organically.
Avoid using rented or bought lists. As with all good things a powerful mailing list will take time to build. A few subscribers in the first month, a few more the month after that…
Eventually, your list will be built to a degree that will help your business thrive and increase its revenue.
Until then, however, it doesn’t mean that your first handful of subscribers should be treated any differently.
In fact, the first few subscribers are the most important ones. They have shown an interest in your business before anyone else and you should respect them accordingly.
Therefore, spend enough time to craft beautiful and value-packed emails even if you only started building your list recently.
In the long term, you will realize that it was those first subscribers that helped you grow faster by spreading your message and recommending you to their social circle.
Optimize your emails for mobile readability
You may have heard this one before. Mobile readability in 2019 is at its all-time high. According to a study made by EmailMonday, And this switch to “mobile-first” is only going to increase. With an outlook of free Wi-Fi all over the world, accessing one’s emails through a mobile phone will be easier than ever.
So how can you best optimize your small business email marketing for mobile readability? Simply by keeping in mind the guidelines below:
- Keep your emails short and value packed
- Let your sentences breathe and bold the important parts of the text (make it scannable)
- Write subject lines that convey the whole message of your email
- Use a single-column layout that works well for both portrait and landscape views
- Enlarge your fonts so they become easily readable
- Limit image use to decrease email loading time
If you want to learn more about mobile optimization feel free to check out this detailed article we wrote some time ago.
Ask to be added to your readers’ contact list
Ever heard of whitelisting? The simple practice of adding an email address to your contacts will ensure that all emails from that sender end up on the top of your inbox, making it a perfect strategy for small business email marketing.
And while this may sound weird, the best way to get your email address whitelisted is by asking your contacts to do so.
It is that simple!
In your next email ask your subscribers in a kind and respectful way to add your email address to their contact list, so they can keep receiving your valuable emails in their inbox.
Make sure you are GDPR compliant
The General Data Protection Regulation (also known as GDPR), is a policy that applies to all businesses that process information of EU-based data subjects.
And yes, this includes your email list!
The policy focuses on protecting the personal information of consumers and gives people more control over how their data can be used by third parties.
And when it comes to small business email marketing, you should comply with these regulations to avoid any potential fines.
For example, if someone wants to download a lead magnet by giving you their email address, you need to make sure that the reader is aware of the way their data will be used.
This includes whether or not they will be added to an email list and receive future newsletters.
If a customer does not want to receive your newsletters, he has the right to be forgotten instead of becoming a target for your next drip campaign – in this case, you are not permitted to use their personal information for anything except the download of that lead magnet.
A great strategy here is to create an autoresponder strategy for everyone that opts in through the downloadable lead magnets. Send them an email that states how their data will be used and to which (if any) newsletters they are subscribing to.
Finally, it is also important to state how often will you be using their information and if there are any third parties involved in the process.
Here are a few questions to help you understand whether or not your small business email marketing is GDPR compliant:
- Do you allow your subscribers to be completely removed from the list when they unsubscribe?
- Does your opt-in come with checkboxes that aren’t automatically ticked?
- Do you have methods to help you trace the exact date and purpose your subscriber opted-in for your newsletter?
- Can you erase the subscriber’s data upon their request to unsubscribe?
- Do you inform your subscriber about the way their data will be used, including whether any third parties will be involved?
By answering yes to the above questions you ensure that you are GDPR compliant!
Finally, and just to make sure, always send a confirmation email with every sign-up form and inform your customer of their option of opting-out of your newsletter at any time.
Get ideas from your competitors
When you are first starting out your email list you will probably have many ideas as far as content is concerned.
But what happens when you have drained all the creative juice up to the last drop?
Writing captivating and value-packed emails can become harder and more time-consuming.
But fear not! There is a way to constantly get new content ideas. It is as simple as subscribing to your competitor’s newsletters.
Don’t feel guilty about it. Your competition probably already implements small business email marketing strategies to increase its lists growth. And their content is most likely one more reinvention of the wheel.
Let me repeat this: Almost all content is rewritten in some way. The majority of copywriters simply reinvent the wheel by presenting a form of content in a different light, using different words.
Start by finding your direct competitors by doing industry/niche research as well as for businesses that offer the exact service or products you do.
Chances are that these companies also have a mailing list, which they use to engage with their customers.
After subscribing to your competitors’ newsletters, check their content topics, their language and their Calls to Action. You can easily use bits and pieces of this information to create new content for your own list.
Underpromise and overdeliver
How do you feel when you subscribe to an email list after being promised to gain “exclusive access to industry secrets” only to later get emails promoting a paid webinar?
Making misleading promises you can’t deliver may get you a few subscribers initially but will be devastating for your small business email marketing in the long term.
The reasons why are pretty simple. Your readers are real people with real problems. Once they realize you can’t keep your word they will be disappointed.
And before you know it, they will unsubscribe from your list.
On the other hand, if for example, you start off by only promoting a weekly newsletter with interesting information, any additional value you offer will be welcomed with open arms.
Imagine – you subscribe to a weekly newsletter to keep up with a certain industry and after a few weeks you receive a free monthly subscription to a software tool, or a checklist to better organize you.
Given the offer is valuable, wouldn’t this put an instant smile on your face? Wouldn’t you be prompted to engage with future emails?
Underpromising (keeping things humble and transparent) and overdelivering is a great tip for successful small business email marketing.
Use automation where possible
Small business email marketing is all about efficiency.
For the most part, your hands will be full with a broad range of digital marketing tasks. As such, email marketing can only take a small part of your day and you need to make the most out of it.
Start by estimating what an hour of your time is worth, depending on the industry you work in. If, for example, you offer fitness training services, your hour may be worth $40-$50.
Now, make a list of all the tasks you need to perform on a weekly basis for email and see how much time these take.
Translate the hours you spend on your small business email marketing in $$.
If you spend 10 hours per week crafting emails and sending them to your subscribers, you are looking at $400-$500 worth of your time.
It is quite a sum, right?
So, why not automate the process through a powerful email marketing software platform?
Mailigen is a great option to help you minimize the time you spend on email marketing. It also ensures that you maintain the high quality of emails you send to your mailing list at all times.
You could start by creating automated drip campaigns for people who sign up through an opt-in box. You only need to write those emails once and they will be automatically delivered in a timely manner to all your new subscribers.
Track your metrics
No small business email marketing campaign can ever be complete without analyzing your metrics. A small business can start by focusing on the 3 most important metrics that can help with future campaign optimization.
These metrics are:
To get a better understanding of these metrics, as well as how you can improve your emails through them, refer to this article.
Get subscribers through Facebook
Facebook has recently started to emphasize more on its groups and how these help people with common interests come together.
Join groups within your niche and create compelling posts to promote your mailing list. A good strategy here is not to make your posts sound overly promotional since most groups do not like or allow promotional posts to be published.
However, with the permission of the group administrators, you can create a compelling piece of content that will be accompanied by a link leading to a signup form and/or a lead magnet.
Before you know it, this small business email marketing strategy will have people signing up to download your lead magnet in order to gain value from it.
Finally, Facebook is considered to be a great networking tool. Especially for the first handful of subscribers, you can ask your social circle to share your posts on their profile in order to expose your newsletter to more people.
Doing so will lead to more signups and, eventually, even more brand awareness on Social Media.
Promote your list through Twitter
Twitter has become a goldmine for people who are looking to monetize mailing lists related to e-commerce and money making opportunities.
The Social Media platform that only allows users to create short-worded posts has been the foundation of success for many mailing lists as the quality of one’s tweets can easily hint how valuable one’s email campaigns are.
Therefore, if you haven’t already, consider creating a Twitter account and have your network share your landing page with their followers. This small business email marketing technique will pay off before you realize it.
A great method to take advantage of Social Media as well as other, successful mailing lists, is to create partnerships with other established businesses in your niche.
For example, if your mailing list is focused on dog lovers and you own an e-commerce store that sells dog collars, you could partner up with another dog-oriented mailing list.
Offer to create a giveaway in which people would have to sign up to both mailing lists to participate. This way, you will gain subscribers and so will your partner.
The same goes for random mentions of industry related businesses. If you happen to mention another business in your newsletter don’t hesitate to contact that business and let them know about it.
Chances are that they will return the favor by adding a link to your landing page in their next email.
This is a small business email marketing technique that almost all e-commerce stores are currently using. It does not only increase their mailing list size but also their network.
All in all, when it comes to partnerships, you will have to be creative. Find opportunities that increase your mailing list’s exposure while still offering value to your subscribers.
Small businesses are now, more than ever, in need of digital marketing.
Unfortunately, many people tend to underestimate the power and potential of email marketing, turning a blind eye to all the businesses that have managed to grow solely through this channel.
Don’t be like them. Embrace the possibilities of small business email marketing as it will create a strong connection with your subscribers.
Here is a short recap of everything we learned about small business email marketing:
- Make sure you add subscription boxes to your website
- Include a double opt-in to gain quality email addresses
- Create and offer a lead magnet
- Make a good first impression
- Add personalization elements to your emails
- Write a great subject line
- Keep your emails short and value packed
- Be consistent with your email frequency
- Start sending emails early on
- Optimize your emails for mobile readability
- Ask your readers to add you to their contact list
- Make sure you are GDPR compliant
- Get content ideas from your competitors
- Underpromise and overdeliver
- Use automation where possible
- Track your metrics – Open rate, Click-through rate and Bounce rate
- Get subscribers through Facebook
- Promote your channel through Twitter
- Create partnerships
From there on, it’s all about hard, consistent work. Before you know it, your small business email marketing will help you grow your mailing list and, in the long term, your revenue.