Email is the most unobtrusive and universal way to interact with customers, and is a must-have part or any small business marketing strategy.
While most small businesses use email in some form, many don’t utilize it to its full potential—and that means you’re missing out on potential sales and revenue. How can you avoid this as a small business owner? Here are 7 email marketing tips for small businesses to maximize the effectiveness of your campain.
Top email marketing tips for small businesses
1: Make it worth the customer’s time to open your emails.
Joe Pilat, owner of Joe’s Gaming & Electronics, has found his best marketing strategy is to let his work speak for itself. His YouTube tutorials show people how they can repair their own devices. This doesn’t just help his sales when they purchase the tools and parts from his store, it’s also given him a huge base of loyal customers who appreciate his useful knowledge drops.
The same strategy can be adapted easily to an email campaigns for small business, and can yield excellent results if you’re trying to build a community of customers around your brand. A bakery could send out recipes to followers explaining how they make delicious icing (along with an announcement of the new flavors you can try in their shop). Landscaping customers will likely appreciate getting tips on how to maintain a lawn or garden between professional treatments.
The bottom line is, if you educate or entertain your customers with your email messages, they’ll look forward to reading them instead of just deleting them or relegating them to the spam folder.
2: Make it easy to subscribe (without annoying your customers).
The popup email signup has become pervasive on blogs, ecommerce sites, and anywhere else that runs a newsletter. By this point, most savvy web surfers anticipate these popups and start looking for the “X” as soon as they load—especially if they come up right from the start, or when they’re trying to navigate between products or blog posts.
When you time the newsletter signup prompt can make a difference. If you wait to show the popup until readers have had some time to explore your site and see what you do, they’ll be better able to decide if you’re a company they want to know more about.
As to the form, keep it simple and uncluttered. Briefly describe what the newsletter will contain and how often they’ll hear from you, and don’t ask for too much information—they’ll be more likely to sign up if it just means typing in their email than if they have to complete a long survey.
3: Fit the tone and style of your marketing to match your customers’ interests.
What do recruiting and marketing have in common? Branding. In both cases, the goal is to express your brand identity in a way that appeals to your target audience and makes them want to learn more.
Recruiters arguably have the harder work here—they’re trying to convince people to join their team, not just make a purchase, and small businesses can learn a lot from how a recruiter approaches the marketing of their employer brand.
One big thing recruiters often do better than small businesses is targeting their mailers. The closer you can match the tone, language, and design of your mailers to the customer’s ideal, the more they’ll feel like you’re speaking directly to them, and that kind of personal connection is a surefire way to increase customer loyalty.
4. Use sales data to find the email frequency that’s just right.
Your marketing won’t be as effective if you send too few emails, but too many could drive customers to unsubscribe. Excessive communication also runs the risk of being labeled as spam by over-zealous inbox filters.
A survey of consumers found the majority (about 91%) do want to receive promotional emails—they just don’t want to get them too often. While 86% want to get an email at least monthly, just over 60% want to receive one at least weekly, and only 15% want to get an email every day.
For most small businesses, sending 2-4 emails a month is enough to stay fresh in customers’ minds without becoming obnoxious.
5. Don’t send every email to your whole mailing list.
One way to avoid overwhelming customers with your email frequency is to only send messages to those people who will find them most valuable. Using the data you’ve collected from customers, you can analyze their buying habits and identify who will be most likely to respond to a new product or promotion.
The fancy name for this is customer segmentation, but it’s really just common sense. Let’s use the example of an electronics store. A customer who just bought a PS5 likely won’t be interested in your upcoming promotion on gaming systems, but they probably would want to know about your sale on PS5 games and controllers.
Targeted promotional emails help cultivate a feeling that you’re paying attention to the needs of your customers, and that’s a great way to build brand loyalty and repeat business.
6. Don’t neglect transactional emails.
Most people focus on their marketing emails when they’re working on an ad campaign. These aren’t the only emails your customers get from you, though, and well-written transactional emails can do a lot to build (or erode) your customers’ loyalty and trust.
Transactional emails include things like order confirmations and delivery progress notifications that give customers logistical information. The main goal for these messages is clarity, speed, and completeness. When a customer places an order, you want them to know you received it and the details are correct before they start to worry that it didn’t go through.
Along with this basic info, include a call to action to sign up for your newsletter and information about upcoming promotions or events. A few extra lines at the end of these mundane messages can make a big difference in turning one-time customers into loyal buyers of your brand.
7. Use after-sale follow-ups to encourage reviews and repeat business.
The data is in: online reviews matter. Roughly 90% of customers read reviews when deciding where to take their business, and spend 31% more on average on a business with high reviews.
Some customers will leave reviews of their own accord, though usually this is driven by a strong emotional reaction—either because their experience was exceptional or (more often) because something went wrong.
A follow-up email can be an excellent way to nudge satisfied customers into sharing their experience. Retail giants like Amazon do a great job with this but many small businesses neglect this step. The best time to send it out depends on your industry. For restaurants and services, it should go out quickly—within 1-2 days. For retail products, sending the follow-up 1-2 weeks after purchase (or delivery, for shipped items) gives them time to use it first.
In the email, ask how they’re enjoying the product and make it easy for them to share feedback. This is another great place to include info on your mailing list—someone who didn’t sign up before might change their mind now that they have first-hand experience with your business.
Conclusion about email campaigns for small business
Email marketing can be valuable—and by this point, every business knows it. When you’re marketing your small business, you need to stand out from this crowd. Targeted mailers that give real value to customers will win out every time over all-purpose sales pitches.