How To Build A Solid Small Business Email Marketing Strategy

email marketing strategy

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With the rise of social media and influencer marketing, is email marketing still a relevant and effective digital marketing tool? The simple answer is YES. A solid email marketing strategy can help your small business grow and scale significantly. If implemented effectively, it can have one of the highest ROIs of all your marketing tactics; yet unfortunately, it’s often overlooked.

While social media marketing effectively engages customers online, email marketing is a direct digital marketing tactic that engages with your business’s audiences directly via their provided emails. In other words, email marketing allows you to target your chosen audience and provide them with personalized, relevant content that speaks directly to their expressed interests and needs.

To create an effective small business email marketing strategy, a small business owner needs to know:

Typically, email marketing involves sending promotional and informational content directly to prospective and current leads. The ultimate goal, of course, is to generate/nurture leads and drive sales. Email marketing can also build customer relationships and keep customers engaged with your brand between purchases.

What You Need to Know About Email Marketing

The 5 Ts of an Email Marketing Strategy

1 – Tease to Captivate

It is important to capture their attention from the beginning by creating a catchy subject line that teases the subject matter. It would be best if you tease, not taunt, or bait your reader into opening the email. To maintain credibility with your customers, you must deliver on the promise in the subject line.

From there, you can continue teasing them with the body of the email. Marketing emails are meant to entice the readers into taking action to click a link that expands on the content further. As tempting as it is to put all the relevant information in that initial email, that is not its purpose. The purpose of the email is to drive further engagement, and to achieve that; you need to remember that sometimes less is more.

Plus, no one ever reads long, copy-dense emails. Most people scan their emails for valuable information.

2 – Target to Resonate

Email marketing is effective because it is a more personal and direct means of communication. The more personalized the content, the more successful your email will be. When designing your email campaigns, use the information you gather from your contacts to guide your content.

That is not entirely true before you start making an excuse that you only have their email, which isn’t much to go on. How did you receive their email? Did they sign up for your newsletter? Did they enter their email to receive a gift? If so, what gift did they want badly enough to submit their email?

This information is a great starting point for segmenting your email list and tagging your email contacts. It gives you enough insights to determine which campaigns fit your contact’s interests. From there, use their responses (or lack of response) to guide them toward more targeted marketing campaigns.

If someone comes to your travel website looking for more information on European train travel, they will not likely engage with an email offering a special deal on flights to Asia. But if you send them tips on booking flights to Europe, that is likely to pique their interest.

3 – Teach to Build Trust

One of the goals of email marketing is to build and maintain meaningful relationships with your customers. You cannot do this if you only send emails promoting products or special offers. Breaking up promotional emails with content that allows you to engage with your customers is important. Educational or informative emails are a fantastic way to do this.

Providing relevant and engaging educational content keeps your customers engaged with your product or service indirectly. If your product is a juicer, write a blog post with various juicing recipes and send an email teasing the content of that blog post. If you manage a travel agency, send an email with tips for booking cheap flights to Asia.

4 – Test to Tweak Your Strategy

Remember that you are not married to a single idea when creating email designs. You can test various subject lines, hero images, layouts, and color choices. It’s important to test the waters even when it might seem easier to pick only one option and stick with it. Email marketing has a low cost and quick response time. You can try multiple designs and test what works best with your target audience.

5 – Track to Enhance Email Marketing Strategy

It may seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning that any campaign’s engagement level should be measured and tracked to help refine future campaigns. You may be tempted to track sales, but tracking engagement will give you a more comprehensive understanding of what content your customers are connecting with and what isn’t. Not every email is designed to drive sales, but every email can provide insight into how your customer thinks and feels about your product, service, or content.

Tracking engagement will also reveal how customers are consuming the content itself. Do clicks decline the further they are down the email? Are your customers more likely to open an email with a question in the subject line or an enticing fact? Do your customers respond to long, thorough emails or prefer short, simple ones? Tracking campaign engagement will help you answer these types of questions.

The 6 Characteristics of a Good Email

email marketing strategy

There are six key components or characteristics of any good marketing email.

1 – Subject Line:

The subject line should clearly and concisely summarize the contents of your email. You will want to avoid vague or messy wording. The goal is to tease and entice with promises of what will come without giving everything away.

Note: We cannot emphasize enough the importance of optimizing your subject lines when crafting your marketing emails. If your subject lines are not enticing and attention-grabbing, the rest of your email won’t matter because the user will never read it.

2 – Greeting:

Keep your greeting casual and on brand and use their first name if possible.

3 – Intro/Purpose:

The likelihood of your customer reading past the first few lines is low, which is why it is important to make the most of those first few lines of copy. You want to communicate key information clearly and compellingly. Hopefully, those first few lines will encourage them to read further, but if they don’t, they will at least walk away with the vital information.

4 – Detail:

If your reader does make it past the intro, then the body of your email is where you can expand on the topic. Remember, your reader has a short attention span, so you will want to utilize images, graphics, short paragraphs, bullet points, and subject lines to guide the reader’s eyes through the text.

5 – Ask/Action:

Every email should have a clear call to action. Posting the call to action at your email’s beginning, middle, and end is standard practice. However, this is not a hard-and-fast rule.

6 – Closing/Sign-off:

Signing off is simply good manners.

How To Get Started with Email Marketing

Step 1: Choose an email marketing app.

Pick an app that is easy for you to use and has features that you need to create and manage your email marketing vision. We use and recommend a tool like ActiveCampaign for its affordability and features.

Step 2: Create and import an email list.

If you don’t already have a list of contacts, you’ll need to start building one. This list could consist of previous or current customers. You can also create a CTA for people to subscribe on your website and social media. An incentive like a free download or coupon code is a terrific way to generate quality lead subscriptions.

Step 3: Design email templates.

Having a series of template designs available ahead of time will save you time during the campaign-building stage and help you maintain visual brand continuity.

Step 4: Personalize subject lines and content.

Now is the time to fill in your templates with the relevant content. Write the subject lines and copy for this specific email campaign. Most campaigns will utilize various email templates, each serving a different purpose within the campaign.

Important Note: Again, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of crafting irresistible email subject lines when creating your marketing emails. If your subject lines don’t captivate, then down goes your open rate.

Step 5: A/B test emails.

If you aren’t familiar with A/B testing, it is split-testing campaign variations to see which version the randomized recipients respond to the best.

Step 6: Follow email spam regulations.

Last but certainly not least, you must follow email spam regulations. Otherwise, your marketing emails will be flagged as SPAM and never make it into your customer’s inbox. The Federal Trade Commission breaks down all 7 email spam regulations in clear terminology, making it easy to manage.

How to Develop an Email Marketing Strategy

email marketing strategy

A proper email marketing strategy involves multiple email campaigns or series designed to move readers through several steps to a single goal. For email marketing to be successful, you need to have a variety of consistent, personalized communication points with your email subscribers and customers. The emails must be attention-grabbing and relevant to each customer on your contact list.

Define Your Customer Journey and Conversion Funnel

Defining your customer journey along with the conversion funnel(s) that will nurture them from prospect to purchase are a vital first step to figuring out your email marketing strategy. Once you’ve mapped out these two elements, identify the stages where one-off emails and/or automated email sequences would help engage, build customer relationships, bring customers value, and ultimately guide a prospect along their journey to convert into a customer (or repeat customer).

There are 10 different types of email marketing campaigns. They include welcome emails, lead nurturing emails, transactional emails, re-engagement emails, brand story emails, video emails, sponsorship emails, review request emails, dedication emails, and email newsletters.

The most common and successful email marketing campaigns that should be a key part of most small business owner’s email marketing strategies are welcome emails, lead nurturing emails, email newsletters, and transactional emails.

Create A Welcome Email Series

A welcome email series consists of emails sent to new subscribers, welcoming them and introducing yourself, and working to build familiarity with new subscribers. The emails should be friendly and educate them on your brand promise. New subscribers usually come with some form of incentive, so the initial email should pertain to that. The follow-up emails in this campaign can invite them to your social media or request more information to get to know them better.

Note: Ensure you wow your customers, showcase your brand, express gratitude, and offer them a gift.

Launch Your Lead Nurturing Email Campaign

These include product promotions, seasonal sale announcements, exclusive offers, or educational emails. The key is ensuring the content is relevant to the individual lead or customer. The goal is to move them smoothly through the sales funnel using a variety of well-crafted and customized emails.

One of the most successful emails within these campaigns is a seasonal promotion. Seasonal promotions are timed to coordinate with specific holidays or seasons to promote a product, special, or service relevant to that time of year. Examples include Black Friday deals, Small Business Saturday specials, and End-of-Year professional service offers.

Seasonal promotions are relevant to most of your contacts, and the urgency of the promotion leads to increased response rates.

Schedule Email Newsletters

This may not be a campaign; it is an ongoing line of communication between you and users. When they are done right, newsletters serve as a way to keep customers in the loop and help them feel part of a community rather than a sales piece. The newsletter should update, educate, and entertain readers.

Send Out Transactional Emails

Also known as “triggered emails,” transactional emails are directly connected to a specific customer action. They might request access to a free download, leave an item in their shopping cart, or request an appointment. Whatever it is, their action (or inaction) warrants a specific email following up with them.

Most of the time, these are simple emails containing only pertinent information. But you can trail that initial email with follow-ups that provide continued support, education and customer service.

A fitting example of this is the post-purchase drip campaign. A post-purchase drip campaign encourages customer service, satisfaction, and retention.

The email content should be less about driving sales and more about following up on their purchase, providing continued customer service, and building brand loyalty. The emails can provide useful tips like care advice or further ideas on using the product.

Frequently Asked Questions About Email Marketing:

email marketing strategy

What exactly is email marketing?

Email marketing is a form of digital marketing that allows companies to target specific groups of customers or individuals. These emails typically feature specific products or services or announce exclusive deals, sales, or offers.

For example, a sales coach might email all past clients who received 1-1 coaching services with a 20% off limited time offer for an upcoming workshop for sales team managers.

Another example would be a financial advisor sending an email to their email subscribers announcing a new one-off service going live next month.

Is email marketing still effective?

While some marketing professionals might say that email marketing is dying thanks to the incredible growth and effectiveness of social media marketing, they are forgetting a crucial element. Like all marketing, email marketing is only as effective as the strategy and content used. It’s not enough to reach out to your contact list. You need to capture their attention and hold their interest.

Studies have shown that email marketing has a higher ROI when done right than any other digital marketing channel. Email marketing is an extremely effective tool for driving sales and retaining a strong customer base when used in tandem with social media marketing and other forms of marketing.

What is the difference between email marketing and CRM?

Email marketing drifts into CRM territory when it takes on a relational component. CRM (customer relationship management) helps sales teams and relationship managers stay connected to their customers. Email marketing requires a delicate balance of regular and relevant engagement.

The biggest difference between classic email marketing and CRM marketing is that CRM is set up to track each customer’s activity. Campaigns are then used to help keep them moving through the sales funnel. Traditional email marketing typically separates contacts into automated lists and then sends the same targeted emails to everyone on a specific list.

How can email marketing help my business?

Email marketing is important for all businesses, but especially small businesses. It is an extremely affordable and effective means of building an authentic customer base, establishing brand awareness, driving sales, and building customer loyalty.

It is a controlled means of developing your brand and building your customer base without spending a ridiculous amount of money.

Email marketing allows businesses to:

  • Stay connected with your audience and customer base.
  • Maintain a consistent line of communication with your target audience.
  • Tailor messages to the specific audience you are reaching out to.
  • Control the message and the audience you are reaching.
  • Measure the success of your marketing campaign quickly and adjust easily.
  • It helps with customer retention and allows you to build an accurate list of strong leads.
  • It is extremely affordable and easy to do, making your return on investment higher than most.

What email marketing service is best?

There are many email marketing services out there. The only way to know which one will work best in tandem with the other software and systems you have in place for your business is to shop around and explore.

Our personal favorite email marketing service is ActiveCampaign. It is a user-friendly, comprehensive digital marketing platform that allows you to design and automate various email campaigns. Not only that, but it’s a one-stop shop for digital marketing and CRM services.

Hubspot, Constant Contact, and MailerLite are great options as well. Hubspot and Constant Contact easily integrate into WordPress and Wix websites, and MailerLite is great if you plan on doing a newsletter.

How many marketing emails should I send per week?

There are a few reasons why people unsubscribe from email lists, most of which are out of your control as a business. However, one of the primary reasons customers unsubscribe is feeling like their inboxes are flooded by your emails. This is something you can prevent, or at least try to prevent.

There are many opinions regarding how many marketing emails should be sent to a user in a given week. Some say 3-5 emails a week; others say 2-3 times a week or 1-2 emails weekly. Our research shows that the right number entirely depends on your business, strategy, and customer response.

The key is quality, variety, and timing. You want your contacts to feel safe from spam emails. Your emails are not spam, so make sure they don’t appear that way. Make the content eye-catching, interesting, and relevant.

Don’t be afraid to space emails out or utilize various content to maintain interest and prevent burnout.

How do I segment and tag my email marketing audience?

To segment and tag your email list properly, begin by identifying key criteria such as demographics, behaviors, and interests to divide your audience into relevant segments.

Use tags to add descriptive labels to individual contacts based on specific attributes or actions.

This combination of segmentation and tagging will allow you to deliver automated, personalized and targeted content, increasing engagement and fostering stronger relationships with your subscribers!

How do I increase email open rate?

There is a simple formula for you to follow to calculate your emails’ conversion rate. Divide the number of recipients who took action by the number of emails delivered to recipients, then multiply the result by 100 to generate a percentage.

This is your email conversion rate formula:

[# of recipients that opened email / # of total recipients emailed] x 100.

Track where you stand by comparing your email engagement analytics to these average email conversion rate optimization statistics.

How do I build and manage my email list?

Building your email list is both an art and a science. You can utilize several different tools and techniques to build your contact list. Then once it is built, you can design various automations and email templates that allow you to maintain and manage the list.

Our favorite way for service-based business owners to build their email list? Crafting an irresistible lead magnet!

Email nurture sequences are a part of your conversion funnels that feature your lead magnets and are an incredible way to grow, nurture and convert your email list. We have put together an easy template to help you automate your email campaigns in a way that nurtures and converts leads. Just follow our guide and you will be set up for success.

email marketing strategy

In our experience.

Email marketing might feel outdated, but it is a vital and highly effective digital marketing tool that every business, big or small, needs to wield. Between its low-cost, high ROI, and user-friendly nature, anyone can use email marketing to help grow and scale their business.

Pairing a strong email marketing strategy with the expertise and recommendations of a good conversion rate optimization consulant can really help you drive up traffic, leads and sales. You and your business will thrive as long as you do it right.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase the product or service. These are products I’ve personally used and stand behind. This site is not intended to provide financial advice and is for entertainment only. You can read our affiliate disclosure in our privacy policy.

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