Resources Hub » Blog » The Biggest Challenges Facing Small Businesses and How to Beat Them

Small business owners often deal with challenges that larger brands don’t. In addition to the stresses of breaking into a new and possibly saturated market, small businesses also face economic pressure to turn a profit with limited budgets and resources.

All of these factors take their toll. According to the Small Business Administration, about 20% of new businesses will fail in the first year. 

One of the best ways for small businesses to grow is by adding new prospects into their pipeline and converting those leads into customers. However, it’s easier said than done. According to our State of Small Business Marketing Guide, the majority of owners say their biggest small business marketing challenges are increasing leads and customer acquisition.

Read on to learn why growing your customer base is vital for small business growth, as well as how email marketing for small businesses is a cost-effective way to do it.

Companies are spending more money to attract leads.

Attracting new leads can be difficult, even for the biggest companies. Large corporations will spend a good portion of their marketing budgets to demand and lead-generation activities. Companies are even increasing their spending to attract new customers. Roughly 70% of marketers expected their lead gen budgets to increase in 2018.

Despite all of the money spent on lead generation and attracting new customers, the results are still a mixed bag. The most successful brands understand that the majority of their sales actually come from repeat buyers and that it costs at least five times more to attract new customers instead of retaining existing ones.

This is especially challenging for small businesses because they don’t have as many existing customers or the same budget as larger companies to spend on lead generation. However, small businesses can overcome some of these challenges with email marketing.

Attracting and converting leads using email marketing for small businesses.

Email marketing is one of the most successful small business marketing tactics to attract prospects and convert them into customers. According to the Content Marketing Institute, nearly 80% of B2B marketers name email as the most effective demand generation channel.

In addition to proven success, email marketing should be attractive to small businesses because they can run a successful campaign on a small budget and with limited time. Here are a few ways small businesses can use email marketing to attract and convert leads.

1. Focus on building a strong contact list.

It’s fairly common sense, but you can’t send out emails unless you have a list of contacts first. The easiest way to start an email campaign is to use existing contacts who are customers in your system (assuming they’ve opted in), but that doesn’t mean that you can’t also grow your list.

Collect email addresses from people who visit your business or speak with you at events. You can also use inexpensive social media ads to collect email addresses. One of the best ways to grow your list is by asking website visitors to sign up. Apartment Guide has a simple yet effective signup form on its blog for customers to receive an email newsletter.

This subscribe form can help small businesses gather the right kind of data.

Source: Apartment Guide

If you want to ensure that you’re getting a quality list, you could consider a double opt-in. Subscribers would receive an email immediately after signing up that asks them to confirm their email address before they’re added to your list. Using a double opt-in, you won’t grow your list as quickly, but you’ll gain more engaged leads that are more likely to convert to customers.

Do not use a purchased list to start your email campaign. It might seem like a good way to quickly grow your contact lists, but the drawbacks outweigh any potential benefits.

2. Hook your contacts with a positive first impression.

After someone signs up for your contact list, the first thing they should receive is a welcome email. A welcome email is the bait you’ll use to hook your leads and convince them to keep engaging with your brand.

If you have an ESP, you can create a customer journey that’ll send a welcome email automatically. If you’re manually managing your email campaign, you can simply download a list of new subscribers every morning and send them a pre-designed email. The strategy might work for small businesses who are just starting their campaigns and aren’t receiving too many signups, but, once your list starts to grow, it can become difficult to manage by yourself.

The best welcome emails include information about your company, helpful and insightful content, and a promotional offer. 

Sephora's email marketing is a great example for small businesses to emulate and the great news is, a small business can put these best practices into aciton without needing the resources of a major corporation.

Source: Campaign Monitor

Although Sephora may not be a small business, you can use the same tactics to convert leads with your welcome emails. Welcome emails have three times the transaction rate and revenue earned, compared to normal marketing messages.

3. Delight and nurture your leads with compelling content.

Not every email needs to be a sales pitch. When people sign up for your emails they don’t want to be constantly hounded by a salesperson. Instead, they’re looking to receive valuable and relevant pieces of content that may, one day, persuade them to become customers.

If you have the resources, you’ll want to segment your contact list so you can send the right message to the right group of people at the right time. However, many small businesses might not have those tools or money available. You might not have the same success as you would with a segmented list, but here are a few types of emails that’ll work for your entire database:

  • Newsletters: A weekly or monthly update to your contacts is a great way to let them know what you’ve been up to. Include relevant product updates, thought leadership pieces, and company news.
  • Promotional emails: It’s fine to send promotional emails to your list at a regular cadence. Consider these emails when you have a sale or new product that you’re releasing.
  • Events or thank you emails: Send these emails around the holidays or a company anniversary to thank contacts for engaging with you. Include a discount code or something of value for your readers.

The main thing you can do with your content is to focus on building relationships and trust. Your contacts will be more likely to remember your brand when it’s time to make a purchase decision.

4. Landing pages matter too.

The email is only half of the process for convincing leads to take an action and more down the funnel. Small businesses can help speed this up by creating landing pages with compelling content.

Once your leads click on a CTA in your emails, you should take them to a landing page that’s a continuation of the message you started in your email. For instance, if your email was talking about a great deal on a specific new product, your landing page would feature only those products and encourage your contacts to make a purchase.

Your landing page doesn’t need to be flashy, but it should be clear in the page design and messaging so your contacts know exactly what they’re supposed to do. Otherwise, they might get distracted or confused and you’ll lose out on potential customers.

5. Encourage social sharing and forwarding.

Just because you’re only sending emails to people on your contact list doesn’t mean you can’t attract others with your offers. Encourage your contacts to share your email with friends, and others may give them social sharing capabilities.

You could even give them an incentive to share, like this example from Treehouse:

This email example from Treehouse is a great example for small businesses to emulate.

Source: Really Good Emails

Shareable content is great because it allows your contacts to recommend your brand or ideas to their friends. It’s no secret that new leads who are referred are generally more likely to become customers, which is a great tactic for small businesses. In fact, 85% of small business owners say word-of-mouth referrals are the best way to attract new local customers.

Wrap up

Email marketing for small businesses is an effective and affordable way to attract leads and convert customers. With only a small investment and time commitment, small business owners can create successful email campaigns by following these best practices:

  • Concentrate on building a contact list that values quality over quantity
  • Improve engagement by sending a compelling welcome email to new contacts
  • Delight leads with relevant and informative content at the right time
  • Focus on landing pages with a specific message and CTA
  • Encourage leads and customers to share your content to help attract new prospects

It’s important to remember that all small business marketing campaigns and audiences are different. Keep an eye on your important email metrics, like open and click-through rates, and make adjustments based on what’s working and what needs improvement. 

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This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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