January 30, 2021

10 Email Marketing Tips for your Small Business

The best email marketing strategies for your small business or startup in 2021.

Cate Perino

10 Email Marketing Tips for your Small Business 

Email marketing is a great way to grow your small business or start up. Especially in 2021, digital marketing is more crucial than ever. 78% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the last year. The overwhelming majority of business professionals have also found that email marketing increases retention and 59% believe it influences purchase decisions. It’s a cost effective, powerful, and a growing marketing strategy. Why not start today?

Here are 10 tips to get you started and help you create the most effective emails to engage your audience and gain some loyal fans. 

1. Scroll through your inbox. 

I know it’s not fun to get homework from the start, but looking through your inbox and trash file is a great place to start. What marketing emails did you delete before you even opened them? Why? Was the subject too salesy, or do you just not care about the company? Take note of the last email you opened, or better yet, engaged with. Why? What did they do right?

2. Choose your “hook” and make the subject line catchy. 

What you probably found from the first step is that the last marketing email you opened or engaged with was either catchy or something that offered you value. Was it a sale? Something you were curious about? Your subject line is crucial. It is an art to find the right balance of value and mystery. Here are some great creative examples. Would you give them your precious click?

Topshop: “Meet your new jeans”

Sephora: “Your beauty issues, solved”

Bonobos: “Hey, forget something? Here’s 20% off.

Guess: “Mary, check out these hand-picked looks”

3. Keep content short. 

Everyone is busy. Keep the content of the email short, especially if you’re a small business. Nordstrom needs space to show off their inventory and thousands of items on sale. You probably don’t. 

People read the beginning and end of emails, and whatever catches their eye in between. Keeping your email to 500 words or shorter when you’re a growing business is a good strategy. For reference, so far, you have already read 250 words of this article. Time flies when you’re having fun!

4. Provide links and buttons. 

Provide your readers with a call to action! Do you want them to visit your website or blog? Purchase something from your first line? Make it easy for them. Link buttons, images, and action words to your website, social media, or wherever you want them to end up. Avoid linking salesy words like “Click here” and “Buy now” to avoid getting caught in a spam filter

With platforms like MailChimp, you can even set up a drafted auto-response email for them to easily reply or send in a question. 

5. Use emojis, colors, and media when possible!

We know your readers are busy, but they also get distracted easily. That’s why we made the CTA hard to miss. We also want to entertain the reader. Use emojis (sparingly), colors, and photos and videos when you can. 

One strategy is for small business emails to be simple like an email from a friend or contact in order to draw the reader in. You can test out this strategy, but I believe that only works for so long. Find the right balance between sending out intimate, simple emails, and also keeping your readers’ attention. You want to do as much as you can to keep your subscribers engaged and prevent them from...unsubscribing (gasp!). 

6. Send a test email to yourself and make sure it is mobile friendly!

Send a test email to yourself and then go into character as a busy, uninterested subscriber. Would you open it? Better yet, send it to a friend or family member without a heads up and check in later to see if they opened it, why or why not? 

Open the email on all of your devices as well. Most platforms allow you to preview the email on different devices, but it’s always a good idea to see how it comes across on mobile yourself. Better that you spend an extra two minutes to send yourself a test email rather than sending out an email to hundreds of subscribers that starts with “Hi |*FNAME*|!” (Not very personal…)

7. Analyze what works and what doesn’t. 

Make sure that whatever email platform you use provides you with insights and data. Important metrics are open rate and clicks. Take note of what works and what doesn’t. It’s okay to test out a few strategies to figure out what works best for you and your company. A good open rate to strive for is 20 to 25%. A good click rate is 2 to 3%. 

email marketing tips

8. Research the best time to send your emails. 

Use your data to see when your subscribers open your emails most. Is it right before bed or when they get into work in the morning? Think about your audience. Are you targeting working professionals? They might open their emails early in the morning, late at night, or even on the weekends. On some platforms you can even schedule an email to be sent out at a certain time. You don’t want your precious email to get lost in the clutter. 

You can use a platform to schedule emails to auto-send when a new subscriber signs up or completes a goal. This is a great way to get their attention right away. Also try to find a frequency schedule that is good for you. Don’t send empty emails with no value for your readers, but newsletters also serve as a gentle reminder to remind your subscribers that you *cough* exist. 

email marketing tips

9. Keep your contact list updated and use personalized tags. 

Whether your subscribers sign up via your website, or you update your contacts manually, make sure that you input their information accurately and use tags to help differentiate them. You can add details such as their profession, birthday, or location that may be helpful for future personalized email campaigns. Also, make it easy for customers to subscribe whether it’s a website pop-up notification, a CTA on social media, or offering them a discount in return for signing up to your email list. It's also important to make sure your subscribers can easily opt-out from your newsletter to be compliant with the U.S.'s CAN-SPAM legislation. Platforms like Mailchimp do this automatically.

If you have this information inputted correctly, you can personalize the email content and even the subject line. What’s better to catch someone’s attention than their own name? 

10. Use familiar content when possible. 

This is a tip that I found helped with engagement. Especially when the goal was to attract subscribers to our social media, including an Instagram logo in the corner of the photo helped increase clicks. A blog that highlighted Amazon essentials for dental school also had high engagement rates in part due to the brand familiarity and logo placement that attracted the reader’s eye. 

Stay true to your brand and make sure to include your own company logo whenever possible, but including some familiar content and logos can be a great way to draw some attention before your brand becomes that big name itself!

Use these tips to get started with your small business email marketing and make sure to always test out new strategies. The 2021 subscriber is always changing so use your insights and your own experience as a subscriber to update and improve your own email marketing strategies!

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