Email hasn’t been the coolest marketing channel for a long time now – yet it’s still the trusty workhorse that 81% of small businesses rely on to drive more leads and sales, and increase customer loyalty.
Want a few reasons to rekindle your affection for email marketing?
Email marketing has consistently shown high return on investment (ROI) rates compared to other marketing channels. In fact, today the average ROI for email marketing is $36-40 USD for every $1 spent.
This makes email an incredibly cost-effective way for small businesses to reach and engage with their prospects and customers.
Plus, with ever-increasing privacy regulations, and the end of third party data looming on the horizon in 2023, email is the best bet for maintaining a reliable connection with customers.
9 Quick-Win Email Marketing Tips for Small Businesses
Let’s dive into proven ways to use email marketing to grow your small business this year. From optimising subject lines to segmenting audiences, these quick tips will help you create effective email campaigns that can help you smash those business goals.
1. Grow Your Email List with Prominent Forms
The first step in successful email marketing campaign is to have a list of email subscribers who are interested in your products or services. The more targeted your list, the better.
For ecommerce brands, offering incentives such as first-order discounts, free shipping or bonus gifts, encourages sign-ups and can help drive impulse buys right out of the gate and build your email marketing list for repeat and long-term sales.
Using prominent opt-in forms and pop-ups to capture your website visitors’ email addresses before completing a checkout is a no-brainer. You don’t want your email sign up hiding in areas that aren’t immediately obvious, which is why pop-ups and overlays still work today.
Need a popular tool with loads of integrations and options for creating opt-in forms and pop-ups on your website? There are dozens. OptinMonster, for example.
Want some visual inspiration? Check out these 42 Email Popup Examples.
2. Try a Personal Touch with Your Emails
Personalisation helps your subscribers and customers feel valued and improves your email engagement rates – i.e., opens, clicks, conversions.
Start by addressing your subscribers by their name and segmenting your list based on their interests and behaviours.
(Note: While order forms typically have name and other fields, for email sign-up forms, you’ll need to have a first name field to collect this information.)
With names, interests or purchase data, you can send more personalised emails based on recipients’ individual preferences, and in turn, ensure that your content and offers come across as more valuable and relevant.
These days, most email marketing tools offer segmentation and personalisation options in even the free or lowest-priced versions, so the barriers to entry are quite low.
Mailchimp allows you to segment your list and send targeted emails based on subscribers’ interests and behaviours.
ActiveCampaign offers more advanced segmentation and personalization features.
3. Stand Out with Attention-Getting Subject Lines
Your subject line is the first thing subscribers see when they receive your email.
So it pays to make sure your subject lines grab attention and hit the mark without crossing over into spammy, misleading or clickbait-type language, as this can lead to higher rates of spam filtering, unsubscribes and complaints.
Testing email subject lines with an A/B test can lead to a 26.96% increase in click-through rates.Mailmodo
Some email platforms like MailChimp have subject line analysis built into the process, but if your email tool doesn’t offer it for free, no worries.
Try these free tools specifically designed to test your subject lines:
CoSchedule Headline Analyzer analyses your subject lines and provides feedback on their effectiveness.
SubjectLine.com grades your subject lines and provides suggestions for improvement.
MailGenius.com actually goes beyond subject lines, and lets you test emails for deliverability and spam issues, before you send them to your list.
4. Create High-Quality Content, Try New Formats
Your email content has to be engaging, informative and relevant to your subscribers in 2023.
We’re all getting so much email these days, that if the value isn’t there, not only will your subscribers rarely open or take action on your emails, but email platforms like Gmail can see factors like low engagement rates and start sending those emails into the spam folder.
Consider using different formats such as videos, images, or GIFs to make your emails more engaging. High-quality content is critical for strong engagement and retention.
Example: This email from the MSO puts video right upfront and centre, with a play button overlay and CTA-style headline to drive engagement and clicks:
Use different formats and make sure your content is easy to read and mobile-friendly. More on that to come.
5. Use Clear Calls-to-Action (CTA) and Compelling Offers
Every email should have a clear, prominent call-to-action (CTA) that makes it simple for subscribers to know what to do next.
Whether it’s reading an article, making a purchase, downloading a resource, or signing up for an event, make sure your CTA is impossible to miss (and resist) in your email.
Here are some crystal-clear CTA examples:
Incorporating these CTAs into your buttons, images or clickable video thumbnails, or using bold formatting for text links, can greatly improve your email conversion rates – especially when combined with attractive offers.
Consider these example offers, and which would be more likely to win:
- a 20% off sale will beat a 10% off sale;
- free resources, exclusive/VIP or limited-time offers usually beat generic ones; and
- free shipping gets more enticing (and can drive more sales) when there’s a lower minimum spend, or none at all, to qualify.
Here are a few example CTAs that combine compelling offers with bold, clickable imagery:
6. Optimise Emails for Mobile Readers
These days, research shows the majority of emails are opened on mobile devices, so it’s essential to optimise your emails for mobile if you haven’t been focused on that platform.
Top mobile email formatting tips include:
- Make sure your content is easy to skim and read on a small screen – no long paragraphs, a few visual breaks here and there, and not too much padding or empty space between sections.
- Confirm that your images are sized properly to load quickly, and fit in the mobile screen and don’t get cut off or require horizontal scrolling to see fully (we still see this a fair bit, so make sure your mobile resizing options are turned on).
- For CTAs, use buttons that are big enough to not be missed – and also aren’t too close to other clickable options (e.g., two buttons right next to each other) to avoid what are referred to as “fat finger” clicks.
Not sure if your email marketing passes the test with mobile users?
Take a look at these two tools to help you get it right:
Litmus: A platform that allows you to test your emails across a wide range of different device types and email clients (Gmail, Outlook, etc.) to see how they look before you hit send.
Email on Acid: A tool that allows you to test your emails for mobile responsiveness and compatibility.
7. Use Automation Options to Increase Engagement and Sales
Automation can save you time, improve engagement rates and help you create more personalised emails.
Use automation to welcome new subscribers, follow up on abandoned carts, or send personalised recommendations based on subscribers’ behaviour.
The most popular types of automated emails are welcome emails and sequences, ecommerce abandoned cart emails, and reactivation or “win-back” emails.
Example: If you browse a product page on AppSumo but don’t purchase, you might get an email like this one within a day (see below). It uses humorously engaging language and CTA that definitely stands out from most abandoned cart/browse emails.
8. Monitor Your Metrics, Benchmark Your Results
To know if your email marketing campaigns are successful, you need to monitor your metrics.
Look at your open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates and unsubscribe rates to see how well your emails are performing. Use this data to make informed decisions about what’s working and what areas still need further improvement.
Not sure what your email benchmarks should be? No worries.
Here’s a helpful guide to Email Marketing Benchmarks and Statistics from Campaign Monitor. Plus, it’s up to date through 2022, so you can quickly see how your emails stack up in a wide range of metrics – and figure out where and how to improve your results.
9. Build Real Relationships with Your Subscribers
It’s important to remember that email is very different than social media and search engines. Our inboxes are meant to be a private space, where we’re not posting in front of friends and family (and strangers), like social media, or actively searching for answers, products or services, like search.
Email relies heavily on our unique preferences, and the brands, companies and people we choose to buy from, get updates and learn from, stay connected with and more.
Our personal inbox typically shares space with family and friends, so if you’re marketing directly to consumers, as opposed to B2B, forging solid relationships with subscribers is paramount for increasing customer loyalty and repeat business.
So aside from using personalised emails, offering exclusive discounts, or providing valuable resources to show your subscribers that you value their time and business, here are a few more areas to review and see how well you’re using them to strengthen the relationship:
- Always provide value: Your subscribers’ time is valuable, so make sure you’re providing them with valuable content and offers that are relevant to their interests.
- Keep it simple: Don’t overwhelm subscribers with too much information or too many offers. Keep your emails simple, clean, and easy to skim and read. If your content is long, say a 3-minute read or more, use email as a teaser and link to it rather than sending the whole piece in the email body. (Or at least split-test the two.)
- Be consistent: Establish a regular schedule for your emails, whether it’s weekly, twice a month, or monthly, find the frequency that works for your business and subscribers and adhere to it. You can also ask and offer different send time preferences easily in most email platforms.
- Follow best practices: Keep up-to-date with email marketing best practices and guidelines to ensure your emails are effective and comply with regulations in the areas you serve. This is especially important for email marketing in multiple areas, markets and countries.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback: Encourage your subscribers to provide feedback on your emails regularly – and use that feedback to keep improving your campaigns.
Remember, email marketing is an ongoing process of testing, learning and optimising. Use these quick wins as a starting point, and continue to refine your email marketing strategy to achieve even better results.