If you’re a small business, it’s sometimes difficult to know where to get started with email marketing. You know it’s a valuable tool that will help your company achieve greater engagement with customers and higher conversions, but you’re not sure about how to go about the whole process on a practical level.
According to Custora E-Commerce Pulse, email accounted for 19.8% of all transactions in 2018 – trailing only paid search (19.9%) and organic traffic (21.8%). Let’s make that work for you!
In this article, we’re going to set out how to get started with email marketing so you can easily begin using digital tools to your advantage. Check out the following guide to get you started.
Brainstorm Your Plan
Lay out a six to twelve month calendar. Pencil in when you’d like to send an email blast and why you want to send it. According to industry experts, most businesses send out two types of emails: time-based promotions and non-promotional emails. Keep these in mind while you brainstorm.
Just like it sounds, the time-based promotional emails are generally centered around a product special, a sale, a holiday, or something of that nature. With this kind of email, you’ll want to send the initial announcement and then schedule a follow up with a timely and appropriate reminder. A third and final email will remind your audience of their last chance to participate in the promotion.
Think of the non-promotional email as more of a broadcast of your latest news, a recent blog post, or perhaps just something as simple as some helpful tips about your products or services.
Also, while you’re brainstorming, set goals for what you want to accomplish with each email so that you aren’t creating an email just to send one. Have a purpose!
How Many Emails
Choose A Suitable Email Platform
Not all email providers are created equally, but most of the top platforms offer everything a small business needs at a minimum. The decision comes in the finer details, such as automation, support, and cost.
Based on our experience, we generally recommend the following to our clients:
1. MailChimp: It’s free for the first 2000 contacts and is geared toward the small business owner or solo entrepreneur. We like it because it is intuitive and the learning curve is very small even for the technically challenged.
2. Constant Contact: As one of the more robust platforms, it requires a paid plan. With an average plan costing $70/month, it can be a little cost prohibitive for some businesses. We like Constant Contact because of the wide selection of templates and customer support.
3. Active Campaign: Also on the pricier side for monthly subscriptions, Active Campaign pays for itself in the way of automations that are created by using if/then logic that corresponds to subscriber behavior. We like it because it has such a high return on investment.
4. Drip: Drip is a relatively new email marketing provider. Their core demographic is blogger, and eCommerce site owners. We like it because it builds a deep understanding of customer intent and purchasing behavior.
There are also plenty of other email systems out there that will do a great job. The most important thing to remember is to pick a platform that integrates with your CRM (customer database).
Ways To Collect Email Addresses
You likely have a pretty good list of emails, either in your CRM or in your email contacts. Before you start blasting them with promotional emails from your new platform, you’ll need to get their permission. The fastest way to do this is to send them a personal invitation to subscribe to your mailing list. If you don’t get permission, you will have to refrain from adding them to your mailing list and here’s why.
Now you’ll want to get new subscribers to build out your email list. To do that, you’ll need to make sure that your target audience has easy access to the subscribe form and are appropriately encouraged to share their details with you.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Place a subscribe form on your website with a friendly welcome and request to subscribe to your mailing list
- Create sign-ups on your social media pages and offer “bonus” content in exchange for their email address
- Offer customers a “free trial” for one of your products or services when they enter their email address on a website form
- Run a give away or contest that requires customers to enter their emails if they want to take part
- Use pop-ups with a special offer, such as a discount code sent to their email when they subscribe
Segment Your Lists
My three kids are in one school district, two different schools, and three different grades. I get emails from the Superintendent with school-wide updates, from the principals with school specific updates, and from the teachers class-specific updates. Each email is relevant and important to me, so I open almost all of them. Imagine if I got emails from other school districts, other schools, or other grades! I would ignore them completely and likely unsubscribe very quickly.
What’s the lesson? Segment your lists and send out relevant information! According to OptinMonster, personalized emails deliver 6X higher transaction rates. No matter which email provider you selected, you’ll be able to do this right in the platform. Click here for some very clever ways to segment your lists and see which ones might make the most sense for your business.
In the meantime, don’t discount general “broadcast” emails to your entire mailing list. They serve their purpose, too.
Create Your Email Content
Depending on the email schedule you’ve planned out, some emails will be automated, some will be planned ahead of time, and some will have to be created and sent closer to the due date. Regardless, you can begin creating the email templates and content any time.
We have a few suggestions to keep in mind:
- Make the email subject line enticing and short.
- Personalize the greeting.
- Include links to your website and social media profiles.
- Keep your branding consistent and your logo visible.
- Add an eye-catching image or graphic.
- Share a new product or service.
- Encourage a behavior with a motivating call to action.
When in doubt about what the email should include or what it should look like, simply check out what others are doing. You’re sure to be inspired!
Keep Email Marketing Simple
All of this is to say, it is easier to succeed with email marketing than you might have thought if you follow this basic plan. Keep it simple and don’t get caught up in all the bells and whistles. The key take aways? Personalize your emails and increase the send frequency. You’re almost guaranteed to see immediate results!