Brighter Messaging

The Power of Email Marketing for Small Businesses

The benefits of email marketing for small businesses

Email marketing helps you:

Gain subscribers

Boost sales and revenue

Increase brand awareness

Gain insights about your customers

Communicate effectively with your target audience

of consumers say that email is their preferred marketing channel
0 %
but only
of professional marketers consider email marketing a critical factor in their company’s success.
0 %

IN THIS GUIDE:

Common Email Marketing Terminology

  1. A/B Testing: The process of testing two or more variations of an email or its elements (subject line, content, design, etc.) to determine which performs better.
  2. Autoresponder: An automated email sent in response to a specific trigger or action, like the welcome email you get when you subscribe to a list or a confirmation email after buying something.
  3. Bounce rate: The percentage of emails that were not successfully delivered. Common reasons include an invalid email address or a full mailbox.
  4. Call to action (CTA): A specific prompt or button that encourages recipients to take a desired action, such as “Buy Now,” “Learn More,” or “Sign Up.”
  5. Click-through rate (CTR): The percentage of recipients who click on a link or call-to-action within an email out of the total number of emails delivered or sent.
  6. Conversion rate: The percentage of recipients who complete a desired action (such as making a purchase or filling out a form) after clicking on a link within an email.
  7. Drip campaign: A series of automated emails sent at predetermined intervals to guide recipients through a specific process or customer journey.
  8. Email automation: The use of software or tools to automate the sending of emails based on predetermined triggers, events, or actions.
  9. Email campaign: A coordinated series of emails sent to a specific audience for marketing or promotional purposes.
  10. HTML email: An email format uses HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) to create visually appealing and interactive emails with images, formatting, and multimedia elements.
  11. Landing page: A dedicated web page that recipients are directed to after clicking on a link within an email.
  12. List hygiene: The process of regularly cleaning and maintaining an email list by removing invalid, inactive, or disengaged email addresses.
  13. Open rate: The percentage of recipients who open an email out of the total number of emails delivered or sent.
  14. Opt-in: Voluntarily providing consent to receive emails from a particular sender.
  15. Opt-out/unsubscribe: When a recipient requests to stop receiving emails from a specific sender or unsubscribes from an email list.
  16. Personalization: The practice of customizing email content, such as using the recipient’s name or tailoring the message based on their preferences or past interactions.
  17. Plain text email: An email format that contains only text (like most day-to-day emails you send), often used for simpler or more personal communication.
  18. Segmentation: The process of dividing an email list into smaller, more targeted groups based on specific criteria (demographics, behaviors, interests) to deliver more personalized and relevant email content.
  19. Spam filter: Software or algorithms used by email service providers to identify and filter out unwanted or unsolicited emails.
  20. Subscriber: #Goals! An individual who has opted in or signed up to receive emails from a business or organization.

Promotional emails: boosting sales and conversions

Promotional emails are designed to drive sales, conversions, and customer engagement. Examples include:

Announcing and promoting sales, discounts, or limited-time offers​.

Generating excitement and awareness of new product launches​.

Promoting complementary products or upselling higher-priced items to existing customers.

Rewarding and encouraging customer loyalty by offering exclusive discounts, loyalty program benefits, or referral incentives​.

Offering exclusive access or early bird discounts to subscribers to incentivize purchases and foster a sense of loyalty among your customer base​.

Building and nurturing relationships

Building and nurturing relationships with your customers is crucial for long-term business success. Here’s how email communication can support relationship-building:

When a new subscriber joins your email list, sending a welcome email is a powerful way to make a positive first impression.

Tailoring your email communication to individual customers based on their preferences, behaviors, or purchase history can significantly enhance the customer experience.

Celebrating special occasions through personalized emails (such as birthdays, anniversaries, or milestones).

Sending personalized greetings, exclusive offers, or small tokens of appreciation can make customers feel valued and appreciated.​​

Transactional emails: enhancing customer experience

Transactional emails are essential for providing information, updates, and support. Here are some examples of transactional emails:

Account-related activities, such as account creation confirmations or password reset instructions.

Shipping notifications to keep customers informed about the progress of their delivery.

Order confirmation when a customer completes a purchase.

Emails with receipts or invoices after a purchase.

Requesting reviews or customer feedback

Newsletters

Here at Brighter Messaging, we include newsletters in almost all our marketing packages. They’re such a great way to stay connected with your audience and keep them informed about the latest news, updates, and developments. Here’s how newsletters can benefit your business:

Engage and nurture your audience with a regular touchpoint.

Showcase customer success stories and testimonials.

Include links to your website, blog posts, or specific landing pages.

Provide exclusive offers and rewards to create a sense of exclusivity and make subscribers feel valued.

Prompt recipients to take the desired action, such as making a purchase, downloading a resource, or signing up for an event.

Deliver valuable content, such as industry insights, expert tips, company updates, or relevant news. (Always strive to be helpful and timely.)

Keep your business top of mind.

Automated emails: Streamlining communication

Automated emails are a powerful tool for streamlining communication. They are triggered by specific actions or events, so you don’t need to lift a finger once the initial automation has been set up.  Here are some common types of automated emails:

Order confirmation and shipping notifications to confirm the order details and provide information about the shipping process.

Personalized recommendations based on the customer's past purchases, browsing behavior, or preferences.

After a customer makes a purchase, automated follow-up emails can be sent to gather feedback, provide support or assistance, and ask for customer reviews.

Re-engagement emails sent to inactive or dormant subscribers to reignite their interest in your brand.

Abandoned cart emails to remind and encourage customers to complete a transaction.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of email marketing for small businesses?

TOP TIP
The platform you use for invoicing may have some decent contact details for your list.

Potential for spam and deliverability issues

Beware the dreaded spam filter! To ensure your emails reach the intended recipient’s inbox and comply with anti-spam regulations, it is crucial to follow best practices and obtain consent from your subscribers. 

Overwhelming subscribers with excessive emails

Some people are fiercely protective of their inboxes; others have thousands of unread messages. Just as important as ensuring the members of your email list have opted in to hearing from you is getting the frequency right. 

How many emails should I send for email marketing?

Bombarding your audience too often or sending irrelevant messages can lead to email fatigue and high unsubscribe rates. All businesses should focus on respecting subscribers’ time, delivering quality over quantity, and striking a balance between providing valuable content without inundating subscribers’ inboxes.

Balancing automation and personalization

Automated email workflows, such as welcome sequences or abandoned cart reminders, can save time and nurture leads. But don’t let that be the only time your audience gets an email. It’s important not to sacrifice personalization in the pursuit of efficiency, so try to find the right balance to create meaningful connections. 

Adapting to constantly changing email trends

The wide world of email marketing is continuously evolving, with new trends, technologies, and regulations emerging regularly. Small businesses need to stay informed and adapt to these changes to remain compliant and effective in their email marketing efforts while maintaining a competitive edge. If the thought of staying up to date gives you anxiety, consider leaving it to the professionals

You may also be interested in: Does email marketing work for small businesses?

 

What should be avoided in email marketing? Email marketing tips for small business:

Here are some common email marketing pitfalls to avoid:

  • Sending unsolicited emails (spam): Sending emails to people who have not explicitly opted in to receive them is considered spam and can lead to negative consequences, including legal penalties.
  • Misleading subject lines or content: Avoid using deceptive subject lines or content that misrepresents the purpose of the email. This can lead to distrust and can harm your sender reputation.
  • Neglecting permission and consent: Always obtain explicit permission from subscribers before adding them to your email list. This helps ensure that your recipients want to receive your emails.
  • Neglecting unsubscribe requests: Provide a clear and easy way for recipients to unsubscribe from your emails, and honor those requests promptly. Failing to do so can damage your reputation and may violate email marketing laws.
  • Overloading: Avoid overcrowding your email design with too much content or too many images. This can make your emails look cluttered and may result in lower engagement.
  • Neglecting mobile optimization: With a significant portion of email opens happening on mobile devices, it’s crucial to ensure your emails are mobile-friendly and display properly on different screen sizes.
  • Ignoring data privacy: You need to comply with relevant data privacy laws.
  • Buying email lists: Purchasing or using third-party email lists without explicit consent from the individuals on the list is generally considered bad practice and can result in high bounce rates, low engagement, and potential legal issues.
  • Ignoring analytics and tracking: Failing to monitor and analyze the performance of your email campaigns means missing out on valuable insights that can help you improve future campaigns.
  • Neglecting personalization: Generic, one-size-fits-all emails are less effective than personalized ones. Use segmentation and personalization to send more relevant content to your subscribers.
  • Neglecting testing: Not testing your emails before sending them out can lead to formatting issues, broken links, or other problems that can negatively impact your campaign’s success.

3.1 Setting goals and objectives

If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re going to have a hard time getting there! To make the most of email marketing, small businesses must start by directing email marketing campaigns toward specific, measurable outcomes, like generating new leads, improving conversion rates, and growing a subscriber list

You may also be interested in: How to run a successful email marketing campaign

TOP TIP
Remember to regularly evaluate and adjust your goals and objectives to ensure that your email marketing efforts remain focused and aligned with your overall business objectives.

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Customer preferences and behaviors evolve, so it’s important to continually refine your segments based on data insights and feedback to ensure that your email campaigns remain targeted, engaging, and resonate with your audience.

3.2 Building and growing your email list

Successful email marketing depends on getting your message in front of the right people. To do this, you need a good marketing list. But people don’t just hand over their email addresses willy-nilly! Here are a few ways to get started:

Compile your existing contacts

Go through your contacts, pull out the business cards you gathered at industry conferences, and gather contact information for past and current customers. Remember that recipients must agree to receive your message, so you’ll need to send them an initial message asking them to opt in.

Leverage the power of your social media accounts 

The goal of social media is to grab the attention of the right kind of people who would be interested in what you have to offer. Once you’ve got their interest piqued, it’s time to direct them to your signup landing form. 

Don’t forget to include a link in your profile bio that leads directly to that enticing signup form. The folks who are already following you on social media are at least somewhat interested in your products or services. Now it’s up to you to transfer that interest to your mailing list.

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Implement lead generation tactics

Give the people what they want! People will be happy to give up their email addresses if they can’t resist what you’re serving up. A popular lead generation tactic includes creating gated content (such as e-books or webinars) that require visitors to provide their email addresses in exchange for the content. Running contests or giveaways that require email submission can be another effective tactic. 

We have a lead magnet on our site that provides value to our target audience by sharing some easy-to-implement SEO tactics. 

You may also be interested in: Tips for building your email marketing list

Are you looking for some SEO quick wins?

Our free eBook “5 things your small business can do right now to improve SEO” contains five SEO tactics you can apply without significant expertise or web developer intervention.

Subject lines that grab attention

“Uh-oh, your special offer is expiring in 2 hours”

“GET YOUR OFFER NOW”

Which email are you more likely to read?

The subject line of your email is the first impression you make on your subscribers, and it plays an important role in determining whether your email gets opened or ignored. To grab attention, it’s important to make your subject lines compelling, concise, and relevant to your audience. 

Consider using curiosity-inducing phrases, personalized touches, or urgency-driven language to entice readers to open your email. For example, instead of “On Sale Now!” you could use something like “24% off sitewide for the next 24 hours.”

A good subject line:

  • Sparks curiosity and urgency
  • Is relevant to your customer’s demands, interests, pain points, and likes
  • Should have elements of value and emotion

Try a free email subject line checker!

Compelling email copy and design best practices

Keep email copy concise, engaging, and relevant. Here are our top tips: 

  • Start with a captivating introduction that hooks your readers and clearly communicates the purpose of the email. 
  • Use conversational language, storytelling techniques, and persuasive language to convey your message effectively. 
  • Remember to focus on the benefits and value you offer to the recipient. Avoid the temptation to talk about yourself, the features of your products, or the intricate details that you think are most interesting about what you do. 
  • Incorporate a clear call-to-action.
  • Ensure that your email design is visually appealing and easy to navigate. Use a clean layout, eye-catching images, and appropriate fonts and colors that align with your brand.
  • Break your content into smaller paragraphs, bullet points, or subheadings.

Here are some best practices for email template design.

Incorporating visuals and multimedia

In today’s visually driven world, video is considered the King of Content. Incorporating visuals and multimedia elements in your emails can significantly enhance engagement and convey your message more effectively. Consider including relevant images, product photos, or infographics that support your content and capture attention. For instance, if you’re a fitness brand, link to a brief workout video or an animated GIF demonstrating an exercise technique.

more clicks for emails with videos
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TOP TIP
Make sure that your emails aren’t too visually overwhelming and that the email size doesn't get too big by adding too many multimedia elements.

4.1 Full-service email marketing platforms

An email marketing platform, software, or tool helps you manage your list, design an email campaign, and automate the process to save time while boosting conversions and engagement. 

Our choice of email marketing service provider

Full disclaimer: we are 100% biased about to email marketing service providers and email marketing software. This is because we only use one. ActiveCampaign ticks all the boxes for small business email marketing.

Here’s why we love it:

Combines customer relationship management (CRM), email marketing, marketing automation, and machine learning

Helps you automate your marketing messages and other comms

Powerful segmentation and personalization

Integrates with WordPress and hundreds of other apps

Easy-to-understand reporting and analytics

Affordable for small businesses

Custom branding

Look for easy customization options, allowing you to incorporate your brand's colors and logo into your email designs for consistent branding.

A/B testing

Split tests are one of the pillars of modern marketing. Opt for an ESP that enables you to test different subject lines, email copy, and other elements to optimize your campaigns.

Segmentation tools

Look for an ESP that allows you to divide your contact list into smaller, targeted groups for personalized messaging and improved engagement.

Drag-and-drop functionality

If you're not familiar with coding, look for a user-friendly drag-and-drop editor that enables you to create visually appealing emails without the need for technical expertise.

Responsive design

81% of emails are opened on mobile devices, so ensure that the ESP you choose automatically adapts your emails to different screen sizes, as a significant portion of email opens occur on mobile devices.

Personalization

People are 26% more likely to open personalized emails. Choose an ESP that allows you to personalize emails by dynamically inserting recipient names and other details, increasing the likelihood of higher open rates.

Integrations

Ensure that the automation features are easy to integrate with your other marketing and business platforms. For example, if you have a sales team that uses a CRM, it’ll be important that your marketing platform can access its data.

4.2 How do you use email marketing to boost your small business? Here are our top tips. 

Building trust and permission-based email lists

When someone subscribes or signs up for your newsletters, they’ve given you permission to engage with them through email. With that in mind, it’s important to respect your customers’ inboxes and only enter with consent. Compliance with regulations is non-negotiable.

Permission-based email marketing is not only an ethical approach but also a legal requirement in many jurisdictions. In the US, email marketing falls under the CAN-SPAM Act, which requires obtaining permission from recipients before sending commercial emails. Implied consent can also be valid if there is an existing relationship between you and the customer.

To stay on the right side of the law and maintain best practices, there are a few key requirements to follow:

Your company name and address should be clearly stated in each email.

Subject lines should accurately reflect the content

Real email addresses should be used in the "From" and "Reply to" fields.

Include an easy opt-out option.

Establishing a consistent sending schedule

When you consistently deliver valuable content, you build a relationship with your subscribers. For example, if you send a monthly newsletter, your subscribers will come to expect your email around the same time each month. If you’re succeeding, they should be excited to see the latest updates, promotions, or insights. 

Consistency not only keeps your brand top of mind but also helps you avoid being forgotten or buried in crowded inboxes. Whether you choose to send emails weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, sticking to a consistent schedule demonstrates professionalism and reliability.

But how often should you email your audience?

Well, it depends. Consider factors such as your target audience’s preferences and behaviors. It’s also worth looking at your own workload and content schedule. 

As much as sticking to a schedule can be a productive tactic, you also need to ensure you have something valuable to say. High-quality, valuable content trumps quantity every time. 

List segmentation and personalization

Segmentation refers to dividing your audience based on similar characteristics, which results in a 46% greater open rate and 112% higher click-through rate than generalized messages. Once you have a growing email list, segment your subscribers based on demographics, interests, or purchase behavior to allow for targeted and personalized email campaigns. You can then deliver relevant content that resonates with each group. Remember, personalization goes beyond addressing subscribers by their name—it means providing customized product recommendations, personalized offers, or tailored content based on individual preferences. 

Integrating email with other marketing channels

Use your social media, content marketing, and advertising to create a multi-channel approach. Here are some ideas: 

Promote your social media profiles and encourage subscribers to connect with you via email.

Use email to distribute your content marketing assets, such as blog posts, ebooks, or videos to drive traffic and encourage subscribers to explore your valuable content.

Create email remarketing campaigns to retarget subscribers who have shown interest in your products or services but haven't made a purchase yet.

5.1 Increasing brand awareness and visibility

A major email marketing benefit is increasing brand awareness and visibility for small businesses. Consistently delivering valuable content to your subscribers’ inboxes allows you to establish a connection with them. 

5.2 Boosting sales and conversions

Email marketing is a great sales side-kick!