Deciding on a marketing strategy can be challenging for a small business owner. Today’s many options include social media marketing, blog content, video marketing, video-sharing platforms and digital advertising.
Amid the confusing array of marketing options, don’t neglect the power of the humble email. While email marketing has been around for a while, it continues to be one of the most effective marketing methods available, earning businesses an average of $36 for every $1 invested, according to research from Litmus.
We’ll explore five email marketing best practices designed to help your business – and profits – grow. We’ll also look at email marketing mistakes to avoid and highlight some email marketing services to consider.
How to use email marketing to grow your business
The following five tips offer easy-to-implement ways to boost audience engagement with your brand.
1. Make signing up for your emails easy.
You can’t expect to build an email marketing list with one semi-hidden sign-up form on your website. Add subscription forms throughout your website so people engaging with your content in different ways can see them.
Include subscription forms on your homepage, landing page and About page. Add them to your blog content, sidebar widget areas, website footer sections, and even near the navigation menu so people can easily spot a place to subscribe.
Consider using software with exit-intent technology that displays a pop-up form as people are about to leave your site. This gives them one last chance to subscribe.
2. Offer an incentive for signing up for your email list.
Making sign-up easy is only the beginning. You have to also make people want to sign up.
The best way to encourage site visitors to subscribe to your email list is to offer a content upgrade. Provide something of value, such as an exclusive coupon, an e-book or a handy checklist to anyone willing to subscribe.
People are more likely to give out their email address for something in return. They’ll feel this bonus upgrade is valuable and that you aren’t just after their money.
3. Vary your email marketing content.
A constant stream of promotional emails won’t engage your audience. They want to feel you’re offering them valuable content. One way to appeal to your subscribers is to mix up your content and send out different types of emails to grab their attention.
Here are some varied email content examples:
- Events. Invite local customers to an event you’re hosting at your business. This might be a product demo or an educational seminar.
- Product and service information. Send an email campaign informing your customers of new product or service launches, as well as updated features to get them excited about changes and enhancements.
- Newsletters. Newsletters are a platform for various types of information. You can even include promotional material without coming across as overly focused on sales. Consider linking to your online shop to boost e-commerce sales. You can also link to blog content and social media platforms to boost your social media presence.
- Promotions. While people don’t want nonstop promotional material, they’re likely interested in upcoming sales or special deals. Offering coupons and perks like free shipping via email is a great technique for boosting your click-through rate (CTR) and revenue.
4. Segment your email lists.
Long gone are the days when a small business could get away with sending out the same generic email campaign to every person on their list. Personalization is an excellent way to improve your email marketing campaign. Personalized emails are much more effective at engaging subscribers and keeping them on your list.
To boost your CTR even further, consider segmenting your email lists into groups to send meaningful content to varied demographics.
For example, send one email campaign to those who have recently made a purchase, another to those that haven’t opened an email in a while, and send welcome emails to new subscribers. Don’t make them all promotional because this defeats the purpose of segmenting your list.
There are many ways to segment your email list to target and nurture your subscribers and their unique needs.
Tip: Conduct A/B testing in your email marketing to discover how personalizing your subject lines improves your open rate and CTR.
5. Always include a call to action in your email marketing campaigns.
Every email campaign needs a clear CTA, even if a sale isn’t the email’s primary goal. A compelling CTA increases recipient engagement with your website, content and business.
Follow these tips to get people to click your CTA button:
- Make it visually clear and exciting with compelling copy.
- Don’t make it wordy; stick to about five words.
- Use action-oriented copy that tells people exactly what to do – for example, “Click Here” and “Download Now.”
- Make the CTA easy to find, and don’t let it distract from your campaign.
Getting people to open your emails is just the start. You must encourage them to read the email’s content and take further action to grow your business.
Email marketing mistakes to avoid
Even the most innovative email marketing campaign can be ineffective if you don’t follow email marketing best practices. Avoid these common mistakes in your email marketing campaigns:
- Using poor subject lines. Your open rate is a crucial marketing metric, and the subject line is where you can sink or swim. Being too strident (using all caps, exclamation points, or too much excitement) can hinder your opens and deliverability rate, since your messages may get tagged as spam or dismissed as a phishing attempt. Keep subject lines short and to the point, but try to intrigue recipients so they open the email. Subject line personalization, including emojis and the recipient’s name, can also increase open rates.
- Neglecting message previews. Message previews are a few lines of text that give recipients a little more information than the subject line, prompting the reader to open the email. Most email programs display this text along with the subject line, so take advantage of this opportunity.
- Sending from a non-responding email address. If you want people to engage with your email, provide a way for them to reply. Sometimes, customers or prospects have questions the email doesn’t answer, so giving them an actual person to help can bolster your relationship. Avoid sending no-reply emails and emails from generic unchecked email addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
- Not sending consistently. In today’s fast-paced world, attention is at a premium. When people tell you they’re interested in your company by subscribing to your email list, don’t lose them by only sending sporadic emails. Follow an email calendar, and prepare your content ahead of time so you don’t fall off your customers’ radar.
- Neglecting mobile users. If your email looks great on a computer screen but isn’t readable on a smartphone, you’re missing out on a lot of potential engagement and sales.
The best email marketing services
The easiest way to send email campaigns is with an email marketing service. These services allow you to track and manage your email lists, create attractive and responsive email designs without programming, and track your results.
These are some of the best email marketing services:
- Constant Contact is our pick as the best email marketing service for small businesses. In addition to its ease of use and wide variety of customizable email templates, the service provides high-end functionality like Canva and Vimeo integration, behavioral triggers, subject line recommendations, and automated email campaign flows. Constant Contact has two affordable plans starting at $20 per month. To learn more, read our full review of Constant Contact.
- Benchmark Email is our pick for the best low-cost email marketing service. Starting at only $13 per month, Benchmark Email’s plans are the most affordable and have the most features. If you’re just starting out, you can benefit from its free version, which allows you to send up to 250 emails per month. While the free plan is missing some advanced features, even the least expensive paid plan includes behavior-based email follow-up, website engagement automation, automated customer journey templates, and the ability to do A/B testing. Find out more in our in-depth Benchmark Email review.
- Monday.com is our pick for the best email marketing service for planning campaigns. If email marketing is central to your marketing strategy, you probably have several employees involved. Monday.com gives you a workflow management interface to track and analyze email campaigns from idea to execution. While it does not send out email campaigns, its project management capability gives you the reporting, tracking, and analytics tools to identify and replicate successful email campaigns. To learn more, read our monday.com review.
Making email marketing a priority
Email marketing is one of the best ways to give your small business room to grow and succeed even against some of the big names in your industry. But you must prioritize building your email lists and writing your campaigns if you want to get people past opening your emails and making purchases on your site.
Add email to your overall marketing strategy. Determine what your customers want the most, and present it to them via email. You’ll quickly see the results as your business grows.
Syed Balkhi contributed to the writing and reporting in this article.