Starting up your own business is an exciting endeavor but with it comes a lot of learning. Not only do you have to learn the business, but also marketing, financing, and so much more. Being a small business owner can and will be very overwhelming at times, especially when it comes to learning all the digital tips and tricks of the trade.
So, instead of freaking yourself out over having to learn so much in a limited amount of time, first, breathe. Once you’ve done that, start with one project at a time.
Once you’ve gotten your small business up and running, it’s time to tackle your marketing. While you may have started with typical marketing methods, such as newspaper listings and direct mailing information out to your neighborhood, you want to get on board the digital marketing train—more specifically, email marketing.
Why small businesses need email marketing
As a small business, your funds are likely to be tight for some time. That means you have to make the most out of every dollar and, when it comes to digital marketing, the best way to do this is through email marketing.
While social media is seen as one of the top opportunities to build brand awareness, it doesn’t always deliver the kind of relationship that your small business needs to have with your target audience. In a recent study that we performed, we found that social media was a channel that many small businesses utilized; however, only one platform was chosen above email marketing and even direct mail.
What does this tell us? That email marketing is still chosen over most social media platforms for small business marketing. Need further proof that email marketing is worth investing in over other forms of marketing?
According to Marketing Sherpa, 72% of consumers say that they prefer to receive promotional content in their inbox, compared to 175 who prefer to see the same content in their social media feeds. Here’s another one for you: 4.24% of visitors from email marketing buy something, as compared to 2.49% of visitors from search engines, such as Google and Bing, and 0.59% from social media.
So, while social media is a great way to build brand awareness, if your small business is looking to really connect and turn prospects into consumers, then email marketing is the way to go.
5 small business email marketing best practices
When building your small business email marketing strategy, it’s essential to know the dos and don’ts to ensure that you’re setting yourself up for success. Read on to discover a short list of key tips to keep in mind while not only building your strategy, but throughout your entire email marketing practice.
1. Get to know your target audience.
The best place to start with email marketing is getting to know your target audience. While many people go into business trying to sell to everyone, that’s a feat that’ll never be accomplished. No one brand can appeal to everyone and each of their needs, so don’t bother trying.
Instead, you want to focus your time and attention on your specific audience. Unsure of who that may be? Ask yourself this one question:
Who will benefit from your products/services the most?
This is the audience that you want to reach out to because they have a need that only you and your brand can address.
Once you’ve identified your target audience, you can start getting to know them. Whether it’s in-store, through social media, or through your website, you want to make sure your small business is interacting with your audience as much as possible. This is an important step in the following tips, especially when building your email list.
Now, for those small businesses that have already started to build a small following or email list, you can further get to know your audience by using email preference centers.
Offering preferences to your audience members will show them that you’re genuinely interested in getting to know them and your needs, rather than simply selling them a product. It’ll also help you to segment and personalize your email messages one you get to designing your email marketing campaigns.
2. Build your email list responsibly.
Your small business’ email list is a crucial part of your digital marketing strategy, and it must be created and cared for responsibly. Unfortunately, many small businesses don’t realize just how vital building your email list responsibly is, and they opt to purchase pre-made email lists. While this may seem like a simple solution to having little to no email list, it’ll absolutely do your brand more harm than good in the long run.
Instead, add relevant links to your website and social media pages that direct your readers to a signup form.
Once they’ve done that, you’ll want to follow up with a confirmation or verification email to ensure that these subscribers truly want to receive the information you plan on sending them.
Source: Really Good Emails
3. Invest in email automation.
Small businesses would be very wise to invest in email automation for several reasons:
- It takes some of the stress out of day-to-day activities
- Increases sales productivity by 14.5%
- Ensures your readers are getting only the most relevant content and more
Email automation is the process of automatically sending out email campaigns based on predefined triggers. Triggers can be set for just about anything, including anniversaries, birthdays, becoming a VIP client, and more.
The beauty of these automated campaigns is that your audience will receive highly personalized content depending on their status and how they engage with your brand. For example, if your brand sells a product and has a VIP status, those users could be segmented to automatically receive news about new product launches that standard shoppers would have to wait on.
An excellent example of this was done by Withings and their VIP Black Friday pass.
Source: Really Good Emails
Another notable reason to invest in email automation is that it can and will save you precious time and resources, which is vital for any small business. Once you’ve set up your triggers and campaigns, they do all the hard work for you. All your team will need to do is take time to review and make sure your campaigns are performing as you wish.
4. Become an expert in your niche.
While your end goal is to make a sale, you have to first prove to your target audience that you’re the expert that you claim to be. If you sell pet products, what makes you any better than Chewy and PetSmart? We aren’t talking about lower prices or “Made in the USA” tags. What knowledge do you have about pets and their needs that Chewy and PetSmart don’t focus on regularly?
Email is an excellent channel for sharing regular updates with your audience, and that means sharing informational content with them, along with your usual promotional content. During a Consumer Email Survey in 2018, 39% of consumers stated that they’d prefer if brands made their emails less about making a sale and more about informing the reader.
So, instead of just presenting them with the latest sale or product releases, why not make them think a little and send an informative newsletter their way, like IDEO U did with their readers?
Source: Really Good Emails
5. Focus on mobile users.
Nearly half of all email opens take place on mobile devices, which comes as no surprise to most small business owners, especially with the popularity of smartphones only continuing to rise. So, instead of designing your email messages for viewing on larger devices, you want to focus your energy on creating mobile-friendly and responsive templates. These templates will open and render correctly, no matter which device your email is opened on, making them well worth the investment.
Small businesses have more than enough on their plates, especially if they’re relatively new. That’s why taking the time to focus their time and energy on their marketing strategy is so vital.
When it comes to building your email marketing strategy, you always want to keep these five tips in mind:
- Take the time to get to know your target audience genuinely
- Build your email list responsibly
- Invest in email automation
- Become an expert in your specific niche and build brand credibility
- Focus on mobile users
Need additional tips on how email marketing can drive revenue for your small business? Check out our post to learn simple, cost-effective ways to use email marketing to increase your revenue.