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If you're a business owner, ensure you don't neglect the benefits of email marketing for small businesses. There are over 4 billion daily email users worldwide-a number that is expected to more than double by 2025-so there's never been a better time to incorporate emails into your wider marketing strategy. Read on for email marketing ideas for small businesses and tips for utilizing email marketing to boost revenue and grow your customer base.

Business owner working on an email marketing campaign

What Is Email Marketing? 

Simply put, email marketing is communicating with your subscribers via email. For your email marketing initiatives to truly be successful, your emails should focus on building relationships with the people in your database.

How Your Business Can Use Email Marketing

There are many ways in which small businesses can use email marketing to connect with their customers. Here are a few ideas:

1. Greet new subscribers with welcome emails 

Show your subscribers you're happy they joined you by sending a welcome email and consider thanking them through an exclusive subscriber offer, like a promo code. Don't forget that it's highly likely that a welcome email will be the first communication a customer receives from your business, so make a positive first impression.

2. Send updates about your brand 

Do you have an exciting new product launching soon? What about an upcoming event? A big sale coming up? If yes, let your subscribers know. They'll feel valued that you're keeping them up-to-date on important information. Focus on quality over quantity.

3. Incentivize sales through special offers 

Your email subscribers will definitely want to know when you're holding sales or discounting their favorite products. 

4. Give reminders to inspire action

Transactional emails are a great way to get customers to act and purchase. An example would be an abandoned cart email (Hey! We noticed you left something behind) these emails send a friendly reminder to customers nudging them to complete their purchase. Product retargeting, or re-engagement emails (Ready for a refill?), are also a good example of this.

How to Start Using Email Marketing

Hopefully, now you're sold on the benefits of email marketing for your business. The five steps below outline what to do before you send your first email campaign.

1. Choose email marketing software that is right for your business
The side of your email list will help determine the level of software that might be best. Instead, look for email marketing software that caters to your bespoke business needs. Here are some important features to look out for when choosing an email marketing tool:

Easy editing: Unless someone on your team will be coding the emails themselves, look for a tool that offers easy editing. A drag-and-drop editor is handy, and often has sidebars that make it easy to design and build different email templates. 

Personalization: Data from Campaign Monitor says emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. Ideally, your chosen tool should allow you to add customer names, interests, and even birthdays to your emails. Experian found out that birthday emails tend to generate 342% higher revenue per email than standard promotional emails.

A form builder: A form builder allows you to add a signup form to your website, blog, social media, or anywhere else your customers may visit, making it easy for people to sign up for your emails. Plus, it'll save you the task of manually adding email addresses to your tool. 

Responsive design: Responsive design features make your emails look good regardless of your subscribers' device or email provider. Don't forget that most email views come from mobile devices (41%), followed by desktops (39%), so ensuring your design is optimized for both is sensible, HubSpot Blog Research, 2021.

2. Start collecting email addresses

Before you start emailing people, you need to collect email addresses. There are strict laws surrounding who businesses can email. You must ensure you're only emailing those who have opted in to receive communications.

Please consult a lawyer to ensure proper guidelines are met. 

Social media is a great way to get new subscribers and build your mailing list. Add your signup form (ideally created by your email tool's form builder!) to all your marketing channels. If people are following these channels already, they are already interested in your business; make the most of this opportunity by getting into their email inboxes too!

3. Plan your emails 

You know the old saying: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Once you've got your email marketing tool and a handful of addresses, it can be tempting to start sending emails. Before hitting send, create a calendar outlining the types of emails you want to send and when you want to send. Align the emails with the messaging on your website homepage and social channels for a cohesive brand message.

We recommend you start by planning emails that follow a typical customer journey: welcome, transaction, and re-engagement. This way, you're contacting customers through every stage of their shopping cycle, constantly supporting them.

4. Think about email design 

Most businesses choose to send HTML emails over plain text. This is because HTML offers branded features, and these emails are associated with professional content and promotions.

However, if you want to add a more personal touch to your email marketing, then maybe plain text would suit you best. A plain text email is formatted like you'd email a friend or relative. Plain text emails can help create a better rapport with your subscribers.

Make sure you are consistent with your design-especially if you're sending HTML emails. Consistency helps create a clear brand image in your customers' minds.

5. Track your performance. 

When choosing email marketing software, pick one that reports your email performance. This data lets you see how your emails are doing, revealing what's going well and what you need to improve. Three key metrics to monitor are:

Open rate: The percentage of email addresses that opened your email. 

Click-through rate (CTR): The number of people who clicked on links in your email compared to the number which opened the email. 

Unsubscribe rate: The percentage of people who choose to unsubscribe from your email list. 

Quick Tips for Email Marketing

Here are some final email marketing tips that could benefit your small business. 

Test emails

Send yourself a test email before mailing all your subscribers. 

Write captivating subject lines

You want your customers to open the emails you're sending, so draw them in with an engaging subject line. Rhetorical questions, personalization, and incentives can all help with this.

Segment your email list 

You know the importance of email personalization by now, so why not take it one step further by segmenting your email list? Segments allow you to tailor your comms to your audience, targeting their specific interests and sending emails they're more likely to engage with.

Improve Your Emails by A/B Split Testing

Split testing, or A/B testing, is a great way to monitor and improve email performance. You can split test subject lines. This works by sending a segment of your email subscribers two different subject lines to see which one has the better open rate. Once a winner is determined, the remainder of your email list will be sent the email with the better subject line.

Maintain a consistent sending schedule

When planning, look to maintain a consistent sending schedule. This way, your subscribers will hear from you regularly and know to expect your comms. You can even create a weekly or monthly email newsletter keeping customers informed on any brand news, key launches, or events. Planning your emails in advance, and using an email marketing calendar, will help with this.

Looking for more marketing tips for your small business? Then check out the Optimum Business blog