Email Marketing For Small Businesses: A Quick Guide

email marketing guide


Email Marketing Is Your Secret Weapon

Email marketing was cited in 2014 as the most effective digital marketing channel for customer retention in the United States (source:

But, that’s 2014 you say. Not really.

As of 2017, email marketing is still growing and is slated for bigger things to come. It remains the go-to channel for consumers, says this report.

Email marketing is truly the secret weapon of today’s businesses, big or small.

You see, despite the rising popularity of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, get this: people are still checking and reading their emails!

So if you want to communicate with your prospect or customer, email is definitely the way to go.

What’s Involved In Email Marketing?

Before you can engage in email marketing, you need to understand the process fully. The goal of email marketing is to nurture your prospects or people who want to hear from you.

The process of nurturing your leads or prospects looks like this:

Collect prospects’ emails > Use an email list service > Communicate value regularly 

This is where your website comes into play. When you have a website, it’s easy to collect website visitors’ emails.

If you have a store, the added step is to ask if the customer would like to be on your mailing list to get updates.

When you have people on your mailing list, what’s the next step? Email them!

When you get their emails, you essentially have permission to educate them. You are slowly ‘warming’ them up and showing them that your product or service is valuable to them.

Getting Started With Email Marketing

Never ever use your Gmail with a BCC to all your prospects.  It’s unprofessional and you risk being labelled as a spammer!

To get started, you’ll need a third party provider called an email marketing provider. Some examples – Constant Contact, MailerLite, Aweber, MailChimp and GetResponse.

Email marketing providers (paid or free) let you communicate easily and conveniently with the people on your list. They provide ready-to-use templates and designs for plain email as well as newsletters.

Too many businesses want to quickly build up a list so that they can immediately sell or promote their products!

While it is true that your list has given you permission to email them, bombarding your prospects with special offers or promotions will only annoy them and people will rapidly unsubscribe from your mailing list! When this happens, you’ve wasted another great opportunity to build a relationship.

What you should do is offer useful tips, advice or ideas ‒ basically the stuff they want. This nurturing process takes time and you can’t rush it.

You can, however, make it so exciting that they can’t help but be impressed with your generous teaching and sharing. Take it a step further ‒ make your email so enticing that they can’t wait to open and read it!

Simply because someone has given you their name and email doesn’t mean she is going to be a customer today. People don’t buy unless they know what the product or service is. People don’t buy unless they know, like and trust the business or the provider.

With email marketing, you have the opportunity to introduce your products, demonstrate why your stuff is good and build up their confidence in your business. You are slowly warming them up and starting a relationship so that they start to know all about you and how you can help them.

What Do You Communicate?

Communicate real value and this can only be done if you approach it from the perspective of your potential customer.

What are your website visitors’ greatest fears and frustrations? What do they want to know about? Start by putting yourself in the shoes of your prospect or customer.

What would THEY want to see or read when they get your email?

When you start by thinking of what they want (instead of what YOU want), you’d be able to create the value that they want to read, see or hear about.

Position your product or service in ways that allow your prospects to be smarter or become, more productive. They could also save money, be healthier or simply have more leisure time if they use your product or service.

How Do You Know If Emailing Marketing Works?

Some people on our list have been receiving emails from us for more than 2 years before they decided to hire us for our premium website design services, attend our events or engage us for website audit and consultation.

In the world of marketing, many marketers cite the Rule of Seven which means you need to contact a prospect at least 7 times before she buys. However, this is not a hard-and-fast rule as it also depends on other criteria such as the quality of your communication.

So treat the privilege of emailing with care.

Your objective is to build up enough trust so that, when the time is right, your prospect buys from you willingly.

Your aim is to educate her so she knows why you are the better business to buy from. This is why you must show you know your industry by offering her advice, tips and articles in your emails.

How Often Should You Email Your List?

Set a schedule because it helps you plan what you want to say to them. Decide if you want to email them 4 times a year, once a month or once every 2 months.

Some business owners only email their lists when they’re running a sale. Others only email if they have something to say.

Personally, these haphazard strategies won’t help you cultivate much trust or loyalty.

Worse, your list will look at your business as a commodity ‒ after all, they’ll only be interested in your products if you have a sale. This means your business will only be perceived as a commodity business where a sale is all that matters.

We switch between sending out newsletters and plain text emails, depending on what we want to achieve with our emails. (Have you signed up for our newsletter yet?)

Sometimes, a plain text email can also do a good job especially if it is an urgent email update like a reminder about an event.

Your recipients will tend to respond more warmly to a plain text email sometimes compared to a newsletter! We’ve always had great open rates whenever we use plain text emails. It’s also easier to craft and send.

What Do You Say In Your Email? 

Most emails or newsletters fail because they begin with a selfish goal ‒ to sell or promote their products all the time!

People can detect sales pitches a mile away so you need to know how to balance promotion while giving tonnes of valuable ideas and how-to tips.

Here’s an example.

If you are selling peanut butter, you want to sell more of your peanut butter.

Promoting your peanut butter in your newsletter won’t be an effective strategy. Unfortunately, this is what most businesses do and this is why they fail miserably at marketing.

The smarter strategy would be to talk about peanut butter like the peanut butter expert that you are.

Talk about the nutritional benefits of peanut butter, how peanut butter can be used to make salad dressings, smoothies, savoury dishes or cakes.

Share recipes using peanut butter.

Share interesting facts about peanuts, where they’re grown and which farmers grow them.

Feature your die-hard fans and customers.

Debunk myths about peanuts and cholesterol.

You are still espousing your product but indirectly.

When you put your readers first and take care of their needs first, your newsletter will be read. If you keep promoting your products, sooner or later people will get tired of your sales pitch and unsubscribe altogether.

Always ask yourself: “What would I like to read in this newsletter if I were to continue reading?”

When you put yourself in the shoes of your prospects, you will always think of something useful!

Like what you’ve read? The above is an excerpt from our book, Web Wisdom

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