Are you ready to get started with email marketing for your small business? Here are tips on creating an effective, long-term strategy.
Email marketing remains one of the most effective, consistent digital marketing strategies, despite predictions that channels like social media would replace it.
Email sits in a sweet spot. It’s a low-risk way for consumers to give businesses permission to send them material. It’s a place where people are receptive to both personal and promotional content. Today, with marketing automation, it’s easy to segment lists and send personalized messages. From initial lead-generation to client retention, email marketing is a strategy that can keep you profitable.
However, if you’ve never used email marketing you’re probably wondering how to approach it. These are common questions:
- What types of emails do I send?
- How to I develop content?
- Will email marketing work for my type of business?
- How do I collect emails from prospective clients?
- How often should I send emails?
- What kinds of promotions and calls to action should I use?
- How do I avoid being spammy?
- How do I automate the process of sending out emails?
- How do I track results and use data to improve them?
Here is an overview that will help you to develop a strategy for your email marketing campaigns.
Why You Should Use Email Marketing
When we speak to small business owners that successfully use email marketing, several big things come up.
The first the consistency of responses. Once a business gets a promotional email campaign in place, we hear things like “Every time I send out an email offer, by the next day we have 15 more sales. It works every time.”
Or “Once the email is sent, we see sign-ups for Yoga classes coming in shortly after.”
As a marketing tactic, email campaigns deliver some of the most timely, immediate results. You send it out, and within a short span of time you know if it worked.
Email is also an important sales touch point and brand awareness tactic. It’s one of the most effective ways to make people aware of your content marketing materials, usually through a newsletter format. If you need a weekly “touch” with leads or existing customers, email is one of the most effective ways to do it.
Last, business owners comment on email marketing’s efficiency. With template designs, segmented lists, and automated drip campaigns, email marketing is a fantastic way to keep in touch without having to take too much time.
Develop a Permission Based List
For email marketing to work you need a list of prospects and clients who are receptive to your material. The idea is not to build as big a list as possible, but to build one that reaches and persuades your target audience.
There are many tactics for gathering emails. Here are some that have proven to be effective.
This is probably the most common way to gather emails. You create a low-risk conversion goal that only requires an email. The most common offer is a newsletter or informational material like a white paper.
Often, businesses will offer a coupon code, freebie or first-time discount as another incentive to sign up. Some sites use a pop-up when a lead arrives on a landing page:
Shopify only asks for an email to try their eCommerce platform free for 14 days. The call to action is the first thing you see on their homepage:
The idea here is to get website visitors to identify themselves, giving you permission to send more info and promotions. Giving an email is far lower-risk than a phone number or actually making a purchase.
Website email sign-ups is where permission-based marketing began. A tried and true strategy.
Ask for Emails
When you or sales staff interact with leads, getting (at least) an email address should always be a fall-back. You’ll often get someone on the phone or in person who’s interested but not ready to commit. Don’t let them slip away without getting them on your email list.
People who you’ve spoken with will almost always give you their email when asked, again because it’s a low-risk way of delaying action without the finality of an outright “no”. Get the email at the end of a phone call or on a business card when you meet someone. Keep that opportunity alive.
Targeting long-tail informational keyword searches with blog articles and an email sign-up an excellent way to get your target audience on your email list.
First, you have to develop and rank your website for a long-tail keyword phrase, which are often search queries in the form of a question. The strategy focuses on prospects in the research phase of the buying cycle. They search on a topic and you provide useful info to answer their questions.
The next, natural step is for them to get further info, sent directly to their inbox. Make sure to have an email sign-up on your blog, so people can get new articles:
Note several things here. They use social proof (300k entrepreneurs) to encourage action. They emphasize that the info is free. The call to action is the positive “Get Lessons”. They repeat that it’s free with “no charge” and lower risk by saying you can unsubscribe.
When you get people to your site doing research, this type of call to action is by far the most likely to convert. It’s an easy first step that gets leads in your funnel.
Facebook Posts and Lead Ads
Facebook offers some new opportunities to gather emails at a low cost.
You can start with organic or boosted posts that click-through to your website where the email sign-up is the call to action. Again, make sure there is a visible call to action so all the traffic has a place to convert.
You can also use Facebook Lead Ads to capture emails directly on Facebook. If you are running a campaign with the goal of only collecting emails, make that the only action on the lead form. The less you ask people to do, the greater the chance they’ll take action.
This works well when you have an incentive (like a coupon code) that you give in exchange for the email. The big advantage with Facebook Lead Ads is that the user doesn’t have to leave Facebook to convert. Fast and easy is always better when capturing emails.
Other ways you might collect emails include:
- A direct-mail letter to leads you have physical addresses for.
- Making contacts through other blogs and forums.
- Word of mouth.
- Including a forward-to-a-friend link in every email.
- Noting email subscriptions on brochures, receipts, invoices, and other marketing material.
- Hosting a local event with giveaways in exchange for emails.
- Having a sign-up at trade shows or community events.
Remember to always keep your email lists opt-in. Don’t buy lists or exchange them with other businesses, because your email will be seen as spam.
Segmentation, Automation, and Drip Campaigns
Email marketing, in conjunction with CRM software, is more powerful than ever, letting you do more outreach in less time.
One of the most important things you’ll do is segment your lists. You can easily create email lists associated with particular campaigns, content, or user traits. By doing this, you create a personalized experience for the user and can better target your emails for each group. For example, you’ll want to segment leads from existing clients because you’ll frequently want to send them different material.
You can also set-up drip campaigns. These are emails that go out at specific intervals, in a sequence that is both logical for the content and builds towards your conversion goal. This can be an effective way to nurture leads over long sales cycles without having to scale-up your staff.
Today, much of your email marketing execution is automated. Once you have your content and campaigns ready, the process begins as soon as the user puts in their email. You keep adding to your lists, and your content spreads to a larger audience.
Not only that, but the contact info and other user information can be automatically put into CRM software. You can have a lead sign-up for an email offer, send out a series of other emails that gradually capture more contact info, leading them down your sales funnel, then have the CRM create a notice when it’s time to reach out to them personally. You’ll have half a dozen quality touches before your salesperson even knows their name.
Today, with so much cross-channel marketing, it’s hard to do without this level of automation. You’ll never keep your email campaigns organized manually.
Email campaigns are among the easiest to test and track data on. You can learn a great deal about what your target audience responds to – for your marketing overall – from email.
Again, the advantage here is time frames. When you send out an email blast, there is a limited time frame where it’s viable. During that time you can track open rates, click-throughs, and conversion behavior. You can focus in on a particular offer to see how it does.
You can segment groups and split test content like subject lines, headlines, template designs, offers, landing pages, and calls to action. When you have large lists, you can gain insights into your target audience overall and use that data to modify other tactics.
Email marketing software tracks your data and makes it easy to analyze. Over time, the ROI of your best campaigns will stand out.
Email marketing is efficient, effective, and comparatively inexpensive. Email is clearly a communication tool that’s going be around for awhile, particularly for business content.
With today’s tools, there’s never been a better time to get your email marketing started.