Small Business Email Marketing Strategies to Grow in 2021
by Ron Stefanski last updated on 0

Small Business Email Marketing Strategies to Grow in 2021

These days, there are tons of digital marketing options available to choose from. Most small businesses focus entirely on channels like social media, instead of email marketing, as a primary means of connecting with their audience – and that’s a mistake. It means they are losing out on a lot of opportunities.

Over 90% of adults in the U.S. use email. Despite the growth in the use of social messaging apps, over 74% of teenagers are using email, as well.  

As you can see, small businesses stand to gain a lot from email marketing. No matter who your ideal customers are, or where they live, work, or play, they likely have an email account where you can reach them.

Whether you’re running a small business website, an ecommerce shop, or a blog, email is a powerful digital marketing tool that will help you attract and convert new customers as well as retain your current ones.

So read on to discover how you can use this channel to drive explosive growth for your small business in 2020. 

Table Of Contents

Why is email effective for small businesses?

There are many reasons why email is such an effective tool for small businesses. It can help you create more awareness for your brand, expand your customer base, build customer trust and loyalty, showcase your industry expertise, and, ultimately, grow your revenue. 

Let’s take a look at the different benefits of using email marketing for your small business: 

Get impressive ROI: Email marketing offers a reliable and cost-effective means of communication between brands and customers. Estimations show that this form of marketing has an impressive return on investment that is over two times that of any other marketing channel.

Improve customer retention: Email allows you to build stronger customer relationships through consistent engagement. This form of communication helps you reach customers where they go every day: their inbox, which is something that would be impossible to do using any other marketing channel. 

Establish authority: Your goal as a small business owner is to become the expert in your niche that customers go to for solutions to their problems. Email marketing will help you establish yourself as an authority by sending high-quality, informative content that your subscribers find useful.

Boost conversions and sales: Email helps businesses generate billions in retail sales every year. It presents a great opportunity for small businesses to benefit from impulse buying. For instance, you can use it to entice customers to make a purchase sending special/discount offers for products related to their previous purchase.

Grow your brand: With a great email marketing strategy, you will be able to grow your brand. You’ll have a direct line to your audience’s inboxes, and all you need to do is send emails that are relevant and well-curated, so your business can stand apart as a clearly identifiable brand. This will give you a significant edge over your competition.

Discover your customers’ needs: Email helps you learn more about what your customers like or dislike so you can stay on top of their needs. You can segment your customers according to their preferences and send targeted and personalized content that resonates with the different segments.

Learn what works: This form of marketing offers you a way to find out what works and what doesn’t by testing and tracking the different metrics, such as email open rates, click-through rates, and so on.

Naturally, to take advantage of these impressive benefits you need to know how to do email marketing right & follow the email marketing best practices. We’ll dig deeper into these a bit later, but do save the guides we’ve linked above for later.

Understanding email types

Once you’ve started growing your email list, there are many different types of emails you can send to your customers and subscribers on your email list. 

It’s important to understand the various types of email and how they work so you can choose the right one for your email marketing campaign. 

Listed below are a few of the most effective email types that you can choose from to help you meet your business’s marketing objectives: 

Email newsletter: This is a popular type of marketing email, and sending periodic email newsletters is a great way for small businesses to keep in regular contact with their email subscribers.

A good example of a marketing newsletter emails comes from Invision.  This newsletter reviews different design trends across industries.

Promotional emails: You can send emails for special offers or discounts to entice subscribers and customers to purchase your products or services. 

A good example of a promotional email comes from Grammarly. This one was sent out during Cyber Monday and offered a 50% off membership.

Loyalty program emails: Email marketing allows you to set up loyalty programs for your dedicated customers. A good example of a loyalty program email comes from Chipotle. In this email, they’re rewarding parents for bringing kids into Chipotle and buying a kids meal.

Seasonal messages: You can create unique seasonal messages to send to your subscribers to keep your brand at the top of their minds. A good example of a seasonal email comes from DesignModo.  In this email, they’re offering a summer flash sale for their suite of tools.

Transactional emails: Email makes it easy to send transactional emails, such as appointment notifications, ecommerce receipts, and more. A good example of a transactional email comes from Stocksy. In this email, they’re simply confirming a user email account, but the visual is stunning.

Drip campaigns: Drip emails are automated messages that you send subscribers on a specific schedule after they take a certain action. You can use this type of email in your business to communicate with your subscribers in an effective, efficient, and consistent way. A good example of a drip email comes from Asana.  In this email, they’re simply confirming a user email account, but the visual is stunning.

Some ways you can use drip campaigns included sending: 

I’ve even used drip campaigns personally to offered online courses that are strictly delivered through email.  Typically I prefer to set up a full online course rather than an email course, but for something small and lightweight, it can be the perfect solution.

Dedicated send: This type of email can be sent to a specific group of people. For instance, if you were hosting a training webinar for one of your products, you might send an event update email targeting only the group of people who registered for the webinar. 

Product update email: Although subscribers generally don’t like to receive these types of emails too often, they can be helpful for keeping your customers informed about things like changes in features of a particular product that they purchased. 

Stay compliant

When sending emails for your business’s marketing campaign, it’s important to stay compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act).

This act imposes several detailed requirements on businesses and individuals that send commercial emails to customers and subscribers.

Here is a brief overview of the CAN-SPAM Act regulations: 

  • No false or misleading header information
  • No deceptive subject lines
  • Inclusion of an opt-out mechanism
  • Inclusion of the sender’s valid physical postal address
  • Identification of the message as an advertisement or solicitation
  • Honor opt-out requests promptly.
  • Monitor what others are doing on behalf of your business

Failure to comply with these regulations can result in a fine of up to $16,000 for each violation, as well as major reputational and public relations consequences. You can find out more information on the FTC website

It starts with an email marketing plan

You need to plan your email strategy prior to starting a campaign. To do this effectively, there are several steps you must follow: 

Step #1: Set your email marketing goals

Every business will have different objectives when it comes to launching email campaigns. There are a lot of factors that might affect and influence your goals, such as: 

  • Your budget
  • The size of your business
  • Your email marketing experience
  • The industry you are in
  • The way your marketing channels are prioritized
  • …and so on.

Your goals can either be general, such as building brand awareness, or they can be more quantifiable and number-based.

Step #2: Define your audience

Your next step is to create a buyer persona and hone in on the specific characteristics of the people you want to reach. 

As with every other marketing channel, don’t try to go after everyone. 

You need to get to know your ideal audience so you can target your email marketing campaigns at the people who are most likely to purchase your products and services and support your business. 

Step #3: Start building your list

Prior to sending out emails, you must collect contacts to send the emails to. Now that you have your goals in order, and you’ve defined your target audience, you can start collecting emails. 

Here are the first steps to follow when you start building your email list

  • Place email signup forms on your website
  • Add signup forms to social media pages
  • Include a call to action in your email signatures
  • …and anywhere else that you can ask people to subscribe. 

The work you did in the previous two steps will pay off tremendously in helping you collect emails from targeted subscribers. 

Make sure you include compelling text explaining to users what they will get in exchange for signing up. Offer valuable incentives and make the signup process as easy as possible.

Step #4: Decide which emails to send

Now that you’re actively growing your list of contacts, you can start planning the types of emails to send to your subscribers. 

As previously discussed, the emails you choose will depend on the type of small business you’re running. Most businesses start with a short welcome series and then send a newsletter once or twice a month to maintain consistent engagement with their audience. 

You can also choose to add occasional promotional emails, product update emails, etc. 

Step #5: Design and craft your emails

Many marketers argue about whether or not email design is important, and if it’s worth spending money and time to ensure that your message looks amazing. 

While some argue that the goal and content of a message are more important and that a simple email is better, others swear by emails that contain lots of rich media. 

Whatever you choose, put some thought into ensuring that your emails not only reflect your brand but also resonate with your target audience. 

Step #6: Track the results 

After you start sending your emails, you have to track the results, analyze the data, and tweak your strategy to improve your results. 

Analyzing email marketing data is crucial to achieving success. It’s the only way to know what works and what doesn’t so you can stop wasting time on tactics that don’t bring results, and rather focus your efforts where they will generate the best ROI. 

You can track:

  • How many people opened your emails?
  • Who opened which email? 
  • What did they click on? 
  • Who opted out of your emails? 
  • … and so on.

This data is readily available from your email marketing service, and it can help you take advantage of many email marketing opportunities in your industry. Just make sure that you keep track of the right email metrics and act upon them.

Email strategies to supercharge growth

Listed below are 8 strategies that your business can use to engage your current following and grow even further. 

Keep these practices in mind while executing your email marketing strategy: 

1. Get the frequency right

Email frequency matters – a lot. Keep your marketing emails frequent to ensure that your customers and subscribers don’t forget about your business. Whichever type of email you’re sending, use it as a sort of “gentle reminder” so that when your subscribers need a solution that your business offers, your name is the first one that comes to mind. 

It’s important to have an email frequency that helps you remain a presence in the lives of your customers, but don’t overdo it to the point that your emails become annoying to them. 

2. Craft compelling subject lines

You need to be able to grab the attention of your readers from the very start. With a great email subject line, you will be able to communicate a compelling proposition. 

For instance: 

  • Is your message urgent? 
  • Do you have a giveaway? A teaser? 
  • Are there discounts in-store? 

You can use your email subject line to capture their attention and make them want to click through and find out more.

How to stand out with your email subject lines.

3. Be brief 

Brevity is vital when creating emails for your marketing campaigns. You know your customers are busy. This goes for even your biggest fans who are genuinely interested in what your business has to say and offer. 

Long emails have been shown to lead to lower open rates, so keep your email messages short and sweet so you don’t lose subscribers. 

Focus only on the main points and make those stand out in the email by using bullet points, subheadings, and keywords to make them immediately catch the attention of your readers.

4. Make text scannable

When writing emails, you should always make sure that your text is easy to read. It should also be scannable since most people love to skim over the content. 

Make sure your emails are designed and structured in a way that allows even those readers who scan emails to catch the key points in your message. 

Use small paragraphs, small sentences, and good formatting practices, such as bolding or italicizing important text, using bullet points, etc.

Scannable email newsletter from Patagonia.
Scannable email newsletter from Patagonia

5. Personalize your email messages

You need to segment your audience so that you can send customized messages that are relevant to each segment of your audience. 

Make the emails feel personal and you’ll get higher open and engagement rates. 

For instance, you can include the customer’s name as well as other relevant pieces of information about them to help you grab their attention.

Example of a personalized email summing up users' activity.
Example of a personalized email from Grammarly.

6. Use image alt tags

By default, some email clients don’t show images. This is why it’s important to use image alt tags whenever you can. 

You can think of this as a sort of “backup text” that offers readers some context as to the contents of your images. 

This is also important for providing descriptions of the images in your emails to visually impaired subscribers who use screen readers. 

7. Mobile-optimize your emails

The majority of people read their emails on mobile devices, so it’s important to make sure all your emails are mobile-friendly. 

You must test your emails on major mobile devices. Most email software services have mobile emulators that allow you to see how the email will look on various devices so there’s no excuse to send a poorly optimized email.

For example, in GetResponse Email Creator you can do a live preview of your message to compare what it will look like on a desktop and a mobile device. On top of that, you can also preview your emails in all of the most popular email clients.

8. Include social media profiles

Use your email marketing campaigns to double down on subscriber engagement by including your social media profiles with a call to action asking readers to follow you on various other platforms. 

Most email providers give you the option to easily promote your social profiles from directly within your emails. 

Don’t forget to grow

As a small business owner, it’s important to focus on growing your email list consistently if you want to experience massive success with this marketing method. 

You have plenty of resources at your disposal to help you in this regard. 

Here are 6 ways you can continue to grow your email list: 

Encourage signups everywhere you can: Give your audience as many chances as you can to subscribe to your business’s emails. This includes adding your signup forms to your homepage, blog pages, contact page, sidebar, footer, emails, social media, etc.

Embed signup forms rather than links: Using a link may is likely to reduce your signup rate, it’s better to embed a signup form directly on different areas on your site. 

Segment your email list: As you start collecting email contacts, you will find that some subscribers are more engaged than others. Segment your list so you can start focusing on cultivating brand loyalty and increasing sales from your fans and followers.

Create autoresponders: Automation will free up a lot of your time so you can concentrate on other aspects of your marketing where you can add immense value, such as analyzing your data, producing great email designs, customized content, and so on. 

Leverage social media: Include social sharing buttons in all your emails. This will help encourage your readers to promote your content across their social networks, giving your business even more exposure. 

Broadcast on other platforms: I’ve personally had a lot of success growing my email list by having a YouTube channel. Not only does my YouTube channel increase revenue for my business through YouTube ads, but it also allows me to grow my list and earn more revenue through drip campaigns that I’ve put in place.

Summary

Don’t miss out on all the wonderful benefits email marketing has to offer. Get started right now implementing these email marketing strategies so you can increase customer engagement, boost sales, and grow your business. 

Which of the tips and tactics listed in this article appeals to you the most? Let us know in the comments section below!

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