Effective email marketing for small business

Have you considered how important effective email marketing is for your business? No?

Well, consider this: What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? If you’re like most small business owners (or anybody else for that matter), you reach for your phone to see if you have any emails.

You’re not alone in this habit. A recent survey found 46 percent of people check their phones before they get out of bed. Another 28 percent have scrolled through their inbox by the time they eat breakfast.

As a society, we are hungry for content, with social media and checking email topping the list of phone-based activities. It makes sense that some of this content should come from your business. Email marketing is hardly a new concept, but thanks to the rise of the mobile phone it is more effective than ever.

According to Wordstream:

  • Email is the third most influential source of information for B2B audiences, behind only colleague recommendations and industry-specific thought leaders
  • Emails are especially effective for B2B business, with a 47% higher click through rate for B2B email campaigns than B2C email campaigns
  • 59% of B2B marketers say email is their most productive channel in terms of revenue generation.

As a small business, having an email marketing strategy can strengthen brand recognition, generate leads and improve the relationship you have with your customers. Even if you only send one email per quarter, it makes sense to include email as part of your overall marketing plan.

Interested in email marketing but not sure how to get the ball rolling? Take a look at our guide on how to create an effective email marketing campaign.

Where to start

Customer personas

First things first. Before you begin sending electronic messages to your customers you need to know who these people are and what they want.

Creating customer personas which outline your average / ideal client lays the foundation for an effective email marketing strategy.

For example, a martial arts school may be looking to target parents seeking an outlet which provides both discipline and exercise for their child. At the same time, they are looking for positive male role models and quality friendships for their children.

With this basic customer persona, the school will be able to form a marketing strategy which introduces their trainers and fosters a culture of community and inclusion.

Once you have the right customer persona for your business, you will be able to craft subject lines and content which resonates with your audience. This will improve email ‘opens’ and drive a higher conversion rate.

Planning ahead

From here, your email marketing needs a goal and a strategy.

Going back to the martial arts school example, the owners may decide their goal for the year is to increase student numbers by 25%.

To do so, their email marketing may offer ‘refer a friend’ discounts. They will also share helpful information with their clients and even create personalised messages to send to kids on their birthdays.

By engaging with their customers via email and sharing tips on raising confident kids, the school will establish itself in the community and will gain more word of mouth referrals.

Building your audience

There’s no point sending emails if only a handful of people are receiving them!

Before you get started with email marketing and also on an ongoing basis, you should be actively building your customer database.

Choose a cloud based CRM and add each new customer’s details to your system. Look for opportunities to capture people’s information so you can continue to grow your audience. Consider partnering with a local business that’s aligned with your values to cross-promote to each other’s databases. You can also consider buying or renting a database from a reputable list broker, if you can track one down that aligns well with your customer persona.

Effective email marketing content

What you say and how you say it is extremely important in your emails.

There are several points to consider when it comes to the content of your email marketing:

Subject

Effective email marketing comprises of a combination of information, updates, offers and customer specials.

Our martial arts school may have a monthly schedule which includes:

  • Weekly message and class update (featuring photos and videos)
  • Twice monthly parenting blog posts that get shared via email as well as posted on the website
  • Monthly special offer to bring a friend for free / receive a discount when a friend signs up

There is a philosophy in marketing known as ‘give, give, give, ask’. Maintain a balance between providing your clients with information and asking them to spend money with you.

Headline

Kick off each email with an enticing headline using words your customers can’t resist.

If you were a fashion retailer, some examples include:

 ‘ Find out how…’

‘ These specials won’t last…’

‘ Your must-have summer collection’

‘ Why rainbow is the new black’

Structure

To make your email easy to read, break up your content with images, keep sentences tight and limit paragraphs to two sentences.

Remember your customer is probably reading your message on a mobile. Structure it to look great in this small space and have a look at a test version on a couple of different devices and desktop browsers before you hit send.

Length

When it comes to length, there is no hard and fast rule for effective email marketing, however as a general rule shorter is better.

Consider that your customer will likely only spend a couple of seconds viewing the email before moving on and put the most important information at the top.

Tone

The voice of your content should reflect your brand. If you are a youth-focused outlet, for example, you can have some fun and play around with hashtags, emojis and slang words.

Links

Your emails generally have the goal of sending traffic to your website. Make it easy for your customers to take the next step by adding several links across the content.

The clearer the better! There is nothing more frustrating than receiving an email from a brand but not knowing how to actually reach the content they are promoting.

Call to action

Within each email, don’t to forget to include one or two clear calls to action.

‘Call now’

‘Hurry! This offer ends on Friday’

‘Shop our range’

‘Book now for the early bird discount’

These instructions remind your customers to take the next step. Add links in ‘button’ form and make images clickable so it is easy for them to continue their customer journey.

Images

The pictures you use are as important as the words for creating effective email marketing.

Again, the colours, format and images you use should reflect your brand. Create a balance of images and texts so the layout is appealing to the user.

When selecting images of people, it is generally advised to use an individual or a small group rather than a crowd. Having an easy to identify face smiling at your user helps to strengthen the connection.

Use photographs from stock image providers or set aside budget to create your own. Professional photographs boost the credibility of your brand, no matter what size your business is.

The importance of regularity for effective email marketing campaigns

Sporadic, badly planned marketing emails are not worth anybody’s time. A regular email schedule shows you have a professional business and keeps you top of mind with your customers.

That being said, there is such a thing as too regular! A constant influx of emails quickly begins to look like spam and has users scrolling for the dreaded ‘unsubscribe’ button.

Depending on what you have to offer, a weekly or a monthly email is generally sufficient. When deciding how often to send your missives, consider how much value they will offer your user.

You can always test your strategy by tracking open rates and responses based on how often and even the time of day you send emails.

Email Marketing Tools

There are many tools available that make setting up and maintaining your customer emails a straightforward process.  Most of these systems use a drag and drop interface which make it easy to build emails and templates. A quick Google search and review of the top ten results will help you find the one that best suits your business.

The other benefit of using these tools is at-a-glance statistics. Log in and view how many people have opened your emails, who has clicked and which links they have clicked on. You can also compare your open rates to the industry standard to set a benchmark for your email marketing.

Testing your email marketing

One mistake many marketers make, and which we see often, is failing to test before they send an email.

Typos and incorrect messages are a credibility killer so after you have created your masterpiece, forward it to a few different people around your office. Ask them to check that all the links open to the right places and that you haven’t made any spelling errors. Also ensure that this in done by people using different devices and browsers. This will ensure that your email displays properly to the majority of people reading it.

Legal obligations

One thing to note when sending email marketing is that it is regulated by the Australian government.

The Spam Act of 2003 has three clear rules.

Firstly, your customers must have given consent for you to send them emails. This can be ‘express consent’, e.g. they have actively signed up for a newsletter, or ‘inferred consent’ based on your existing relationship e.g. they have shopped with you or used your services.

You must also clearly identify your business when you email your clients. Most companies make it clear with the ‘from’ address, however you can also identify yourself within the body of the email by adding your name and a website address.

Finally, you are legally required to include an ‘opt out’ link which allows email recipients to unsubscribe. You have five days to act on these requests before you potentially face legal consequences.

There are also rules around sharing the information of your customers. If you are going to do this, you must make it clear when your users opt-in so they know they can expect messages from other providers.

To be clear on whether you are communicating with your customers without breaking the rules, speak to an expert digital media consultant at Thinkun.

How to win at email marketing

Above are the basics of effective email marketing. As you can see, there is a lot involved! Like anything, to work well it requires the right skill and strategy.

At Thinkun, we offer comprehensive digital marketing services which take the guesswork out of planning, implementing and measuring effective email marketing.

With the help of a professional team, you can build accurate customer personas and form a results-focused email marketing strategy.

The experts at Thinkun will also conduct A/B Testing, which involves road testing a small number of users with different headlines, content or images to determine which is most effective. This tactic allows us to get to know your audience and can help to improve open rates by several percentage points.

We can also share our advice on segmenting your audience. This eliminates the one-size-fits-all approach, identifying where your users are at in their journey and sending messages which are targeted accordingly.

As a business owner, you no doubt have so much to focus on beyond DIY online marketing. By engaging a team of experts you can hand over the content creation, graphic design, tracking and analysis of your email marketing.

The result of professional assistance with your email marketing is return on investment in the form of increased leads and better conversion.

Thinkun can provide everything you need to create a round-the-clock dialogue with your clients using email marketing. Get in touch today to find out how this strategy can help grow your business.