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6 Email Marketing Tips for Your Small Business

email marketing tips for your small business
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Everyone gets marketing emails. It’s sort of like the junk mail of times past, it piles up and can get a little annoying. You send everything to your spam folder and then try to unsubscribe from what you can. This is how the average person tends to see marketing emails, which has made the truth about email marketing shocking — it’s the single most effective means of driving revenue for business, especially with a low budget.

What throws most people off about email marketing is when they get too enclosed in a “box” in their thinking. For instance, the question isn’t “is email marketing successful?” and more “how do I make email marketing successful for me?” There isn’t a one size fits all approach, and most of the time, people who see little success in email marketing are usually just trying to cram things into a marketing email without a thought to what the average person would ever read.

This is another truth with marketing. If you are a business owner, you are not average. You have an insight into things that the average person does not. Thus, in order to find success, you need to get out of your own head and into the mind of your target clients. Thus, just like we mentioned regarding social media, make sure that you’re focusing on what your customers would actually open and read — not necessarily what you personally would.

For instance, if you’re starting a property management company, you should think about what challenges a prospective rental property owner faces. For instance, do they really want to deal with those 2am plumbing issues themselves? Think through your target’s pain points, and plan a strategy accordingly.

[Read the 7 Marketing Mistakes You Need to Avoid]

Here are some email marketing tips to help your business succeed:

Paying for Email Lists

In the world of email marketing, your audience is called a list. There are several different types of lists. For the purpose of this article, we’re going to talk about the means of acquiring them. Usually, they come down to how much you’re willing to spend.

First of all, it’s important to understand that there are laws regarding email marketing. As such, email service providers, or ESPs, will ban you if enough of your audience reports your marketing emails. You must ensure that those receiving your emails have elected to do so. But how do you do this — especially if your business is brand new?

There are organizations out there who will sell you email lists. Whereas it’s possible to make use of them, likely your ESP will ban you if you simply purchase a list and dump it into the system. If you’re a small business, it’s usually best to avoid lists that are simply “sold” outright. So what should you do instead? You “rent” them.

When you rent an email list, you are basically paying a third party to email their list on your behalf. Sometimes you write the emails whereas other times you will work together on the emails that go out. The way that you build your own is by ensuring that those who read your emails click on the links within, then opt to sign up for your own email list or purchase services. If you don’t have a large enough subscriber base and have the money, renting an email list allows you to grow your own while selling your services. It’s a win-win if done properly.

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Curating Your Own List

What do you do when you can’t afford to rent out another company’s email list? Well, that’s when it’s time to curate your own!

This requires a lot of time and focused attention, but it’s necessary to see results. And, even if you’re paying to rent an email list, you still need to make sure that your own digital marketing ecosystem is put together so that, over time, your expenses in renting email lists will drop. The only way to do this is by curating your own.

When putting your list together, one thing is unavoidable — you must have traffic of some sort. For instance, if you’re starting a general contracting business, have you completed other jobs before? Does your company already have existing email addresses from existing clients? Those are really important to start with. For one thing, if they have paid you money for your services before, they will likely pay you again in the future when work is needed.

Have specials that you email out to your list. Give away quality advice. One of the most critical elements of curating your own list will be the newsletter signup section of your website. Make it valuable. If they don’t have a compelling reason to give you their email address, they simply won’t.

There’s no secret here — your emails must offer something of value. It could be special deals and rates, or it could be advice on how to do something effectively. For example, if you’re running a catering business, write an article on your website about how to plate food in a more artistic and impressive way. Then, summarize the article in your newsletter with a “read more” link to the article.

You must give them a reason to give you their email address.

Drafting Copy that Sells

When putting together your business plan, you might not have thought that how you write it would be important. But the reality is that it’s one of the more important components to selling your products and services.

You have to get into the mind of your targets, much like the case with social media. What are their needs?

It all starts with the subject line. Why? Because a subject line has one job — and just one job: to get the reader to open the email. You could offer someone a thousand dollars off a project, but if they haven’t bothered to click and open the email, it’s a useless offer. Make sure you aren’t making false claims in your subject lines, but you also have to make sure they’re enticing enough for someone to open. Think about your own email inbox — what marketing emails have you clicked recently? What subject lines have you sent to the spam folder? Pay attention to these.

After this, make sure that each line keeps the reader’s interest. In sales, the saying is that you start with 30 seconds of a prospect’s time. In that 30 seconds, your goal is to earn five minutes of their time. Then, when you’ve earned five minutes of their time, you try to earn a half hour of their time. Then, you can close/convert from there. Email marketing copy is the same way. Each line must convince the reader to continue.

You must have an irresistible offer in order to convert. So, first, focus on open rates. Then, once those are acceptable, focus on click rates. These are the metrics by which you judge the effectiveness of your email copy.

[Learn the 10 Secrets to Launching a Winning Email Campaign]

A Picture is Absolutely Worth 1,000 Words

One of the more essential aspects of your email marketing is the visual approach. Some industries can thrive without images, but these are rare.

Even the best email copywriters will tell you that if an image can convey a message instantly, you should absolutely use it. This is why, when you’re looking for catering business ideas, you will see a never-ending supply of gorgeous food. Your emails should be similar.

Sometimes, you will need chunks of copy to convey your message, but never neglect the power of images in your email marketing. Email copy ought to support the images, as a nice picture can often be exactly what you need to get the reader to continue reading, and earn your next line of copy.

In construction, it could simply be a recent project that was especially challenging. For lawn care businesses, it could be your most prized client’s lawn. Always ask your clients for permission, and make sure you’ve removed details that could identify them. But your work is your most effective salesperson — don’t miss out on using it to sell your prospects. Let them judge you by your results.

Tools of the Trade

The best part about email marketing is that, regardless of your budget, there are tools to help.

When email marketing, don’t just use your company email account and BCC your customer list. Doing this will miss out on some really essential information, such as how many opened your email, how many clicked the links, etc. Here are some tools which can help your email marketing:

MailChimp: One of the more popular resources, they are free until your contact list reaches 2,000 email addresses. Visually friendly, it’s a “drag and drop” editor, meaning that if you can do most things online, you can craft email campaigns that work.

Hunter: Hunter’s Email Verifier ensures the email addresses on your email campaign list are valid. It looks at the format, domain information, and email server response, and compares every email address with its own database. You can use it to verify a single email address or a list of email addresses. Its API allows you to verify email addresses with a simple API call.

ConvertKit: This is less visual and costs money to get started, but its metrics are fantastic and the simplicity of its method are intentionally built to get around spam filters that other html-based ESPs like MailChimp might not. This is also great for attaching to your blog as a lead magnet.

Canva: Canva is a great software for editing images. This will prove helpful when trying to put things together to keep your reader’s attention in your emails. It can also help with social media.

Leadpages: Without a landing page, your success will be limited. Landing pages allow you to continue the conversation and pick up where you left off. If you aren’t used to complicated coding and setup of websites, Leadpages can be a great solution for turning a click into a conversion signup — which is a basic requirement for curating your list.

Make It Useful

Now you have all of the basics for getting your email marketing off the ground. It can be complicated and tedious at times, but doing this well will, in most cases, be your most effective strategy in terms of ROI and overall revenue.

Just remember to send things that will appeal to your target audience. Help them out. Give away advice. Remember that the overwhelming majority of people, in the end, will outsource when they try doing something themselves. The biggest secret of DIY is that your craft is much harder than it looks. But a lot of people have to try it themselves in order to learn this. So make the advice useful anyway, and then they will doubtless come to you once they’re in over their head. Then, you’ll be able to kick off with the most effective strategy possible.

Author: Blake Hoffmeyer

Blake is a corporate communications consultant working in the Greater Atlanta area. His specialties are in messaging strategy and tactical implementation of marketing and advertising plans that will work for small businesses. His goal is to spread his knowledge and expertise to help other business owners solve problems without all of the headaches.


  1. Great tips on email marketing for small businesses! Your advice on personalization and mobile optimization is spot on. Looking forward to implementing these strategies for better engagement. Thanks for sharing!

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