Ashley is a content writer and brand developer. After graduating with a degree in print-journalism, Ashley’s storytelling skills took her from the bizarre world of on-camera acting to the practice courts of NBA basketball players to the virtual meetings of inbound marketers. Today she specializes in building memorable brand voices online, with a focus on the travel & tourism, e-commerce and tech industries.
Do you have an email list?
It’s something every online marketer will ask when consulting, regardless of industry. And there’s good reason for this; 247 billion emails are sent each day, according to The Radicati Group, Inc.
That’s one email every 0.00000035 seconds!
Unlike other social messages that get pushed down over time – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram – email generally stays visible until it gets read. Not to mention, there’s WAY less competition in someone’s Inbox than in their social feed (people don’t give their email addresses to just anyone).
Has the Internet become a deluge of content over the past decade? Absolutely. But one thing hasn’t changed – people do want to see content that addresses their needs. Why would people get on the Internet at all if this weren’t true?!
Email Marketing Tips for Small Business
With this in mind, we’ve gathered our best email marketing tips for small businesses to get you started:
Choose An Email Server
If you haven’t already, you’ll need to choose an email marketing software provider. Not only do free services like Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo lack the functionality to produce more savvy campaigns (ie. no valuable metric or automation features) they’ll also limit your ability to grow.
With a professional email server, there’s no limit on the number of email addresses that can be added as time goes on. Though choosing a provider can seem a bit daunting – there are about 250 services in the market – the most popular are companies like aWeber, Mailchimp, HubSpot and Infusionsoft.
With that said, don’t assume you have to go with one of these options. New companies pop-up all the time with features that could better address your needs. Though some include free options, most of the features you’ll need will be on paid plans.
Make It Easy to Subscribe
This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised just how many visitors leave without ever noticing the opt-in! Prevent this by prominently placing it on your site with an easy-to-read font and a large button. Don't limit yourself to just one placement either.
Ideal Placement Locations:
- above the fold on your homepage
- the top-right sidebar
- the footer
- beneath individual blog posts
- on your Facebook page
- anywhere else your prospects are active.
Another way to make it easy to sign-up? Bribe them!
Offer them something they want in exchange for their email address. This is the most basic yet most powerful way to build an e-mail list on autopilot.
Finally, keep it brief. Too much text in one place is kinda scary.
Create a Welcome Strategy
This is something that takes a little extra time, but is worth it in the long-run. Give your subscribers something to initially interact with while you’re on their minds. Whether that’s an individual email with a compilation of recommended resources, a downloadable file of whatever you promised them or an automated email sequence (spaced out over a few days) that provides something of value.
By doing this, your subscribers are less likely to forget who you are when you send that next email.
Optimize For Mobile
According to TechCrunch, 75 percent of Gmail’s 900 million users access their accounts on mobile devices. Translation: If your campaign doesn’t display on mobile devices, it’s not going to perform well.
Most email service providers offer mobile responsive templates, but that doesn’t mean you can’t easily design your own. The key points: Be as concise as possible, use on column and large fonts.
Add Social Sharing Buttons
This is a small tip, but worthy of it’s own header. Don’t forget to add social sharing buttons to your email template! You’ve spent so much time creating content, now you’ve got to promote it. One of the easiest ways to gain new subscribers? Make it easy for your current ones to tell their friends and/or colleagues about you.
Make An Editorial Calendar
Magazines. Newspapers. New Stations – do you think they wait until the day of their deadline to figure out what they’re going to talk about? Nope. They create an editorial calendar in advance.
For most businesses, this is wise advice. Automating your publishing schedule will increase the likelihood of you delivering exactly what you promised your subscribers. Remember, you can always deviate from the plan should you decide to do so.
Write “Personal Style” Emails
Don’t write as if you’re talking to 5,000 people; write as if you’re talking to one. While the tone, vocabulary and cadence will depend upon your unique brand voice, you always want to keep it real.
Essentially, this goes back to how you’re thinking of “email marketing.” Is your primary goal making the sale? Or is it providing people with value? While you can fake a caring email persona, it’s not recommended.
Master Subject Lines
There’s tons of data and market research to support the idea that people prefer personalized subject lines. That means, using their name if possible (this is a feature many email service providers offer) and writing in first-person. The general rule of thumb for subject lines is to either a). Invoke curiosity or b). Promote a benefit.
Just make sure you’re actually delivering inside the email. Nothing’s worse than opening an email that promises to reveal a certain piece of information, only to find you actually have to pay $9.95 to get the answer after opening!
Make It Scannable
No one enjoys reading long blocks of text, especially when it comes to email. You can make your emails reader-friendly by doing the following:
- Break your paragraphs after 3-4 sentences
- Use features like bold, italics and bullet points
- Use strong headers to organize information
Also, if sending a longer letter, consider adding a “Read More” option that links to the complete piece in a separate location. Not only is this more compelling, it’s great for driving traffic to your Website.
REFINE & REPEAT
Where are our most responsive audience members coming from? Who is opening, reading and clicking? What dates and times work better? What subject lines get more interest? These are the kind of data points that can help you do more of what’s working and less of what isn’t.
The reality – our assumptions are often wrong. By tracking metrics, and tweaking your strategy accordingly, you can increase your results tenfold.
As your list grows, and you begin tracking information, you may want to begin segmenting. This allows you to target certain subscribers on your list for specific types of content and promotion that will be of particular interest to them.
For example, say you’ve identified a group of subscribers who have never clicked through on your emails. You might want to send this group a personalized email asking what type of content they most want to see from you. Put simply, segmenting allows you to engage certain audience members without disturbing others.
As you can see, developing a successful small business email marketing campaign is an ongoing endeavor – not a one time thing. Save this email and begin implementing these tips as you see fit.
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