How to Start Using Email to Market Your Small Business
Email is still the best way to reach your customers.
The future of email marketing looks promising. By 2024, more than 4.4 billion people will have an email address. What’s more, 61 percent of consumers say email is their preferred channel to be contacted by companies.
Despite recognizing its potential, many small business owners find email marketing daunting. How do you choose the right sending platform? What should your emails be about? Should you wait for your list to grow before you send your first email?
These are all normal things to wonder about if you’ve never sent an email campaign or a newsletter. Small business owners who can’t afford to externalize this task often don’t know where and how to begin.
These tips below should make things easier for you and help you get up and running in a few days.
Find a trustworthy email marketing platform
Your email list and the platform you use are the foundations of your email marketing. So, take some time to research before picking an email service provider (ESP).
Apart from offering the features you need, make sure the service has a good reputation. Everything you do as an email sender will influence your deliverability — including the ESP you use. Most likely, you’ll share an IP with other senders and their behavior can affect your results. If your ESP fails to stay on top of best practices, your emails may go to spam instead of the inbox.
It’s worth prospecting the ESP market and taking a free trial before you commit to a paid package. Plus, if your email list isn’t that large yet, you may be able to send at no charge for a while.
Give your email list a scrub
Here’s a hard pill to swallow: Some of the email addresses you gathered through the years may be useless today. People switch to different providers all the time and close or abandon their old accounts.
Also, if you’ve never emailed them, you don’t know if these contacts were accurate in the first place. A typo at the point of entry is enough to render an email invalid. Inaccurate data will cause your emails to bounce and tarnish your reputation as a sender. Ignoring this aspect is not an option if you want to reach the inbox.
So, before you hit "send" on your first email, double-check your list to see how fresh it is. An email verifier will remove all the risky data that could prevent you from reaching your customers.
Determine the types of emails you send
What motivates you to start sending emails? Is it the stories you want to share with your customers? Then a newsletter would be the perfect medium. Are people often asking whether they could get on your list to receive promos? That’s a clear sign you’re missing out on sales and should run periodical email campaigns.
Write down the types of emails you mostly see yourself sending, then try to come up with a one-month plan. Decide what you’ll send and how often, depending on your resources and goals.
However, be flexible and open to adjust this plan down the road. As you’ll learn more about your audience and what it reacts to, you’ll find the ideal type of content and sending frequency for your small business.
Start slowly and warm up your IP
This is an important step in email sending that many marketers and business owners overlook. The number of emails you send at a time influences your inbox placement, just like the quality of your ESP and email list.
Internet service providers (like Gmail or Yahoo) tend to support senders they’re familiar with. The more consistent you are, the higher your chances to land in the inbox. So, if you’ve never emailed your subscribers, it’s best to start slowly so you can warm up your IP.
That means you should send your emails in batches, according to the limits each provider has established.
Keep your copy simple and clear
Now that you’re all set up to send your first email, it’s time to write it. This part makes many people feel uncomfortable. If that’s the case, you may want to ask someone on your team to help.
Here’s an approach that works for many: Start with an outline. What’s the main message you want to convey? Write that down, then continue with a few bullet points of all the details you need to include. It’ll be much easier to build upon that initial list. Finally, craft your subject line and preview text, making sure they’re both informative and compelling to click.
Once your email is ready, share it with your team and get feedback. If anything is unclear or hard to read, you have a chance to improve it. Simple and clear copy wins the race, so speak your customers’ language and avoid convoluted narratives.
Final tips to make email a success for your small business
With most social media platforms limiting organic reach, email is a medium that businesses continue to rely on. Whether you send transactional or marketing messages, email will help you get your name in front of people and boost sales.
Before you go, let’s take another look at the tips above:
- Choose your ESP carefully — its reputation will reflect on yours.
- Validate your email list before you send. You don’t need a large list, but you do need a healthy list.
- Decide what kinds of emails you’d like to send and what frequency works best for you and your audience.
- Avoid sending too many emails at once. Warm up your IP by following each provider’s best practices.
- Keep your email content simple and clear. People may be in a rush when they open your message — make sure they can understand it right away.
Finally, once you’ve decided how often you will send, keep a steady rhythm. Your email marketing works when people see you in their inboxes regularly.
Related: 5 Tips for Better Email Marketing
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor