As a small business owner just getting started, you have so much to think about, and email marketing is just one piece of the seemingly endless puzzle. What information should you include in your emails? How often should you send out a newsletter? Who should be on your email list? How should you segment your list as you grow your subscribers?
Even if you answer all of those questions today, best practices, industry techniques, and your own brand and audience are going to shift. The truth is that marketing is always going to evolve. You’ll never really be done learning about email marketing.
As you seek to create some form of online presence, your marketing profile can be classified as “basic.” Your goal, as you move on to the other profiles, is to upgrade your strategies to align with your evolving organizational goals. There’s no reason to start with advanced techniques. Learn the basics, get started, then grow from there.
Create a Lead Magnet
Subscribers don’t sign up for a newsletter simply because the newsletter exists. You have to give people a reason to sign up. What will they get out of signing up? What will they get from the newsletters you send? You have to think about this in two ways:
- The subscriber will need an incentive to sign up in the first place.
- The subscriber will then need a reason to stay on your mailing list.
An incentive that’s delivered within seconds of signing up is a good reason for a subscriber to immediately unsubscribe after getting what they want. In addition to giving them something awesome for handing over their email address, you have to keep them subscribed. One way to do that is to continue offering the VIP-level perk you gave them at the beginning (or something similar).
For example, let’s say you offer them a 15% off coupon for signing up for your mailing list. Then, that first email you send, which includes the coupon, can clarify that existing subscribers always hear about new products first, may receive random codes for free shipping, or maybe they get access to a membership-only portion of your website.
Put an Opt-In Form on Your Website
The best way to catch new subscribers is through your website. Placing one opt-in form on your website is good, but placing several is better. You don’t want to flood your website with opt-in forms, though. Instead, think about the natural places and moments that will encourage sign-ups:
- Putting an opt-in form above the fold on your homepage will attract the visitor’s attention right away.
- You can schedule a pop-up form to appear when a visitor is about to navigate away from your website.
- You can link to your signup form in a blog post, like if the topic of the blog post relates to the content you send via email.
Avoid Spam Words in Your Email
You don’t even look at spam in your inbox, right? You don’t want your subscribers to have the same reaction to your emails — and you definitely don’t want your emails to get auto-filtered into the spam folder, which means they’ll never be seen at all. Unnatural or overly promotional words and phrases are red flags for spam filters (for example, “Hey friend!” or “Act fast!”). How you write is also important, as using all caps or ending a sentence with exclamation marks are signs that your email may be spam.
Note: Regularly check if your email sending IP or domain has fallen into a blacklist database using our free blacklist checker. A clean IP and domain improve inboxing rates.
Think Beyond Copy
When you think of email, you probably think of a text-only note in your inbox. Email marketing for businesses, though, involves so much more. Design is an integral part of email marketing for a business, and you have to consider everything from typography and layout to colors and images. Think about the aesthetics of your email as much as the content:
- What will it look like to the viewer?
- What do the colors used in your promotional material say about your brand?
- Is it engaging and easy to skim, or is everything crowded together, making it look overwhelming?
- Is it readable even on a small screen, like an iPhone?
Keep Your List Clean
As a small business that’s just getting started, you probably have a limited budget. Keeping a clean email list will ensure you’re only paying for the subscribers who are most valuable to you. Many email delivery and marketing tools charge by subscriber. For example, they may offer a free account if you only have 100 subscribers, then increase the charge as your subscriber list increases. If you have inactive or unresponsive subscribers, why pay for them? Regularly vet your email list to remove subscribers who aren’t worth your time.
Email has been around for a long time, but it’s still holding strong as a major communication tool. Successful businesses don’t rely on old-school email strategies, either; they invest their time, money and energy to learn about the newest email marketing tactics. Email marketing is as powerful as it is because potential customers have told you they want to hear from you. You have a direct line to them through their inbox. Make the most of it.