Shaping an Effective Email Marketing Strategy for Small Business: 7 Key Guidelines
Learn about the key principles common to all email marketing strategies for small business
In this post, we provide the main guidelines that every small business owner should follow when setting up and running an email marketing campaign. Just like every organized event, we can break down an email marketing campaign into three stages: preparation, campaign proper, and evaluation of results.
Below, we talk about each of these in detail. You will learn why it’s so important to define your goals right from the get-go, how to compile a list of potential subscribers, what kind of content has a higher chance of bringing you leads, what key performance metrics to consider when analyzing the outcome of your endeavors, and other crucial aspects.
Despite the total dominance of social media channels like Facebook or Twitter over the past few years, email marketing remains and will remain one of the best methods to stay in touch with the target audience. As Statista projects, the number of email users globally will reach the breathtaking number of 4.6 billion by 2025.
Small businesses can achieve all kinds of goals through email marketing campaigns. They can send letters to advertise their products or services, make their potential customers aware of their brand, encourage them to subscribe to their newsletter or visit their blog, download their latest ebook, and so on. In short, email marketing is all about eliciting a response from the target audience.
However, just writing a message and sending it to various email addresses at random will hardly bring you any tangible outcome. It’s like a traveling salesman knocking on every house door in the neighborhood in the hope that the host will open it and purchase their stuff. In the majority of such cases, the catch is not worth the time and effort.
The right approach is to work out a solid email marketing strategy. The number of marketing emails grows by leaps and bounds with every passing year. Thus, small businesses have to make an extra effort to stand out from the crowd. They should strive to write engaging emails that can instantly capture the recipient’s attention, get them to open the message, read its content, and ultimately click the call-to-action button. This is a tough task that requires a lot of groundwork.
Not to fear, though. Below, you will find some key guidelines that all effective email marketing strategies share. Follow these, and, hopefully, your key performance indicators like delivery and open rates will soon improve.
The Number One Secret of Effective Email Marketing Strategies Revealed: Prepare, Conduct, Analyze
Setting the Stage for Your Stellar Email Marketing Campaign
#1: Decide What You Want to Accomplish in the End
Whenever you start doing something, you should think about the end result. A house builder knows what the completed structure will look like even before laying the first brick. The same goes true for an email marketing campaign. Knowing for sure what result you expect is the foundation of all successful email marketing strategies.
Everything you’re going to do from now on, including the design and content of your emails, will center around this overarching purpose. As we’ve said, you can set to accomplish a lot of goals in your campaigns. Here are some examples:
- You want to attract more visitors to your website
- You want to sell more products
- You want the target audience to be aware of your brand
- You want to retain your current audience
Without defining precisely the end result, your campaigns will resemble a ship aimlessly drifting in the sea. Just describing your desired outcome is not enough, though. A goal should meet several important criteria.
- It should have a certain time frame for implementation. The end and start dates may not be set in stone. That being said, you should still draw a line between two squares on your marketing calendar to know when to begin and finish your campaign.
- It should be plausible. Don’t overstretch yourself in your digital marketing aspirations. For instance, increasing the number of subscribers by 500 within a week is hardly possible for a rank-and-file small business. Try researching your niche first to find out the average business indicators.
- It should be concrete. “I want the click-through rate for my emails to grow by 15% in a month” sounds much more precise than simply “I want the click-through rate for my emails to grow in a month.”
- It should allow you to take some active steps in order to achieve it. For example, if you want to retain your customers with engaging content, you can include animations or videos in your emails.
Knowing exactly what result you want to achieve, when you want to achieve it, and what you should do in order to achieve it, you have a much tighter control over your campaigns.
#2: Compile a List of Recipients and Sort Addresses into Appropriate Groups
Another thing that the best email marketing strategies share is having a list of verified subscribers who have opted into receiving emails. As we’ve mentioned, sending emails to all and sundry will hardly do you any good.
How can you obtain a list like that? How can you expand it? There are several methods. Here are the most popular:
- Place an appropriate subscription form on most or all pages of your website. Of course, it shouldn’t affect the normal user experience. Your website visitors should be able to read the content without difficulty. You should also include the “opt in” checkbox on the form to keep in line with legal requirements.
- Use a paper form in physical locations. While this is not the best option during the ongoing pandemic crisis, you can still consider it if you’re visiting a conference or fair. If potential customers get really interested in your products or services, they should want to stay connected with you and, thus, will readily fill out the form.
- Host a contest. If you sell smartphones, for instance, ask your target audience a few questions about a certain brand’s specific features. Promise them a reward such as a gift or price cut.
- Conduct a survey. In a fashion similar to a contest, ask your subscribers or potential customers to answer some questions about your products in exchange for a promo code, for example. Their replies can give you a lot of valuable information to fine-tune your email marketing campaigns in the future.
IMPORTANT! Never purchase ready-made subscriber lists. You never know if the addresses they contain are authentic and have real people behind them. In addition, if these addresses have been compromised in the past, your emails will land in your recipients’ junk boxes.
Compiling a list of subscribers is only part of the story, though. You should do some additional work to sort these addresses into a number of different groups to make your emails more relevant to your target audience.
The criteria you can apply for this purpose range from education, age, and gender to region and purchasing behavior. For example, if you find out that a certain customer regularly buys one and the same item in your store, you can offer him or her similar products in your emails. This should bring up your click-through and open rates.
#3: Choose an Efficient Email Marketing Automation Solution
Let’s face it: working with lists of subscribers, dividing your customers and prospects into target groups, and tracking the success of your email marketing campaigns call for using specialized software. Performing all these tasks manually is prone to errors and consumes too much time.
This is why effective email marketing strategies assume choosing a powerful and efficient automation solution. For the best results, such applications should have a number of must-have features. These include easy third-party integrations, fine-tuned A/B testing, detailed analytics and reporting capabilities, flexible autoresponders, and a convenient content editor, to name just a few. Read this post on our blog for more insights.
The PSD2HTML Email & Banner development team has built thousands of beautiful, immaculate email templates for the leading email marketing automation providers, such as HubSpot, MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, SendGrid, and many others. If you need advice regarding the choice of email marketing software for your business or want to have a high-quality email template optimized for the requirements of a specific email service provider, just write to us. We’re always happy to help.
Crafting a Perfect Email
Now that you’ve set the stage for your email marketing campaign, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty details. Every single thing about your email is important if you want to achieve your primary goal. Here are the essential considerations to keep in mind.
#4: Entice Your Subscribers to Open the Message with a Great Subject Line
There are different types of email marketing strategies. Whichever you choose, though, one important rule sticks as far as writing effective emails is concerned. It’s creating a compelling subject line.
Why is it so crucial? A typical customer’s inbox is awash with emails from all kinds of businesses vying for his or her attention. If you fail to entice the recipient to open your email within a split second, you’ve lost the game.
Here are some best practices for writing good email subject lines:
- A subject line should be as short as possible.
- A subject line should convey the value your offer brings before anything else. For example, you can write about a discount or free consultation. Tell your subscribers what they can gain from your company instead of focusing on the characteristics of your product.
- A subject line should urge the recipient to act quickly. For instance, you can use phrases like “before the price gets higher” or something similar.
- Personalize your subject line. Email marketing automation solutions allow you to dynamically insert recipients’ names into subject lines to make emails more personal.
Remember that poor, uninteresting subject lines are one of the main factors that cause recipients to ignore marketing emails.
#5: Create Unique and Engaging Content
A subscriber has opened your email. Congratulations on writing a great subject line! Now your task is to retain their attention to the bottom of your message, where probably the most important content element is located — a call to action.
How can you do that? Here are some key tips:
- Make sure your title is as engaging as your subject line. The purpose of the title is to hook the recipient and entice them to continue reading. The title should mirror the subject line. By using different words and phrases, repeat what value the subscriber can get by accepting your offer.
- Make your content simple to digest:
- Get straight to the point and only then add supporting details.
- Keep your sentences, paragraphs, and the text overall as short as you can.
- Avoid repeating words and phrases you used in previous campaigns.
- Break down the text into ordered or unordered lists whenever appropriate to simplify its perception by subscribers.
- Include suitable headings for your paragraphs, sticking to the right hierarchy (from H2 to H6).
- Include references to external materials your target audience may find useful.
- Place one call-to-action at the bottom of your email. Most often, this is a button. Make it clearly distinguishable within the body of the message (use a different color, border, specific font, etc.).
- Avoid using too many images.
- Avoid jargon and complicated vocabulary. Use simple language everyone can understand.
IMPORTANT! Place an unsubscribe link somewhere in the footer of your email. Your target audience must have an easy way to discontinue receiving newsletters from you if they deem necessary. It’s also one of the legal requirements in many jurisdictions.
#6: Ensure That Your Email Renders Perfectly Everywhere
All successful email marketing strategies emphasize another important aspect. This is the ideal rendering of emails regardless of the medium a recipient uses to view them.
First of all, you need to ensure that your email meets the requirements of the respective marketing automation platform such as SendGrid. This is only the beginning, though. You also need to be certain that various email clients and devices display the message the way you want. Subscribers with PCs, Macs, laptops, smartphones, and tablets should be able to see the same flawlessly rendered message.
You can test your emails yourself by sending them to your colleagues or friends and asking for their feedback. However, this is a tiresome and time-consuming task. The number and types of mobile devices and email clients your testers use may be insufficient to put your mind at rest.
A much better approach is to hire professional email template developers such as our Email & Banner development team. Using HTML5 as our primary tool of the trade, we guarantee the highest quality of the end product no matter how complex the design is.
We test all email templates on 12 real devices and in over 70 email clients. We also check template validity on all supported email marketing platforms. You can be absolutely sure that you will get your message across to your target audience. Save time — entrust the job to professionals!
Evaluating the Results
#7: Constantly Monitor the Key Performance Indicators During Your Campaigns
In the “The Number One Secret of Effective Email Marketing Strategies Revealed” heading above, the last word we used was “Analyze.” This is exactly what you should do once you’ve launched your email marketing campaign. Without corresponding analytical data, you will be in complete darkness. You won’t know if you’ve achieved the goals you’ve set for yourself.
Luckily, all (or, at least, most) email marketing solutions provide analytical and reporting features that allow marketers to view the key performance indicators for their campaigns. These include the following:
- Delivery rate
- Open rate
- Click-through-to-open rate
- Unsubscribes rate
The exact numbers vary from industry to industry, so find out what they are for yours on average. Then, adjust your emails in accordance with this data. For instance, low open rates normally signify that your subscribers find your subject lines uninteresting. Make them more engaging and value-focused.
To Sum Up
Email marketing is still an effective way to nurture leads and retain current customers. With the number of email users on a global scale expected to grow in the coming years, this digital marketing channel has a bright future for small businesses.
There are different types of email marketing strategies with their specific features and best practices. All of them, though, share some common principles. Namely, all email marketing campaigns are divided into three main stages: preparation, campaign proper, and data analysis.
In this post, we’ve talked about each of these. Of course, this information is just a drop in the vast email marketing ocean. Still, we hope it should put you on the right track to achieving your marketing goals. We wish you success along this path!
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