5 Tips to Get Started With Email Marketing for Small Business

If you’re still debating whether or not to get started with email marketing for your small business, let this be a sign: today’s the day!

Today, email marketing is one of the most powerful tools you can leverage to connect with your audience, reach new customers, and – ultimately – make a sale. 

Research has shown that, when used appropriately, email marketing is even more powerful than social media and paid search (ads) in terms of return on investment (ROI)…meaning that investing in the right email platforms and strategies could mean serious gains for your small business!

If you’re tempted by email marketing but aren’t sure where to start – we’ve got you covered! Keep reading for some of our favorite tips on how to use email marketing for your small business – and what that can mean for you in the long run.

What is email marketing and how does it work?

Email marketing refers to pretty much every type of communication that reaches your audience via their email inbox. From weekly newsletters to promotional emails, special announcements, downloadable products…these all fall under the category of “email marketing”.

hands holding an iphone and taking notes on a planner

Usually, email marketing is used to help foster stronger and more authentic relationships with your customers. It feels more personal than a social media post or an ad – especially when they’re personally addressed to the receiver – and can help you keep growing (and selling) because people are more likely to actually see the content.

Now, when it comes to the actual “action plan” of planning and executing an effective email marketing plan or campaign, there are a few (paid and free) resources that you and your business can use to make the whole process a lot easier and streamlined.

READ MORE: How To Include Email Marketing in Your Next Launch Strategy

A few of our favorites include:

  • MailChimp: A great tool for beginners, MailChimp lets you design, fill-in, and schedule email campaigns in order to automate your marketing strategy. Very intuitive, you can create welcome emails, ongoing newsletters, abandoned cart reminders, and more.
  • MailerLite: Another great tool for beginners, MailerLite makes a business owner’s life easier by creating both landing pages and email campaigns on the same platform. With an easy to use drag-and-drop builder, you can design beautiful emails that will help you stand out.
  • HubSpot: The fan-favorite marketing platform launched an email marketing tool that helps users create beautiful, optimized email campaigns backed by data. Perfect for users who are more comfortable with their marketing strategizing and planning, it’s a great all-in-one tool.
  • ActiveCampaign: A little more advanced than the rest, ActiveCampaign is a powerful tool for creating funnels and segmenting your content so it reaches the right audience. The platform offers everything from autoresponders to triggered emails, targeted emails, and more!
  • ConvertKit: Another great tool for creating funnels, this is a great way to go if you’re already more experienced with email marketing. Create landing pages, design emails, and understand your subscribers – all under one roof!
  • FloDesk: A beautiful platform that’s ideal for designing visually appealing newsletters, the platform is intuitive and easy to use. Although FloDesk’s funnel capabilities are less advanced, it’s a great place to get started with email marketing if you want to test the waters.

Email marketing terms you should know

Now that you’re a little more familiar with email marketing, here’s a quick list of terms you can keep handy for the next step: the strategizing step!

A/B Testing: In the world of email marketing, A/B testing refers to the process of sending out two variations of the “same” email to two groups of people in order to test which one performs better. Changes can be as small as using different words in your subject line or testing different email templates.

Campaign: An email marketing campaign is a set of emails that are sent out to your subscribers over a specific period of time. These usually have the same goal in mind or revolve around the same topic.

Newsletter: A newsletter is a specific format of email that informs subscribers about news, updates, or any important information regarding your business. It can be sent out weekly, bi-weekly, monthly…the choice is yours!

Segment: Segmentation is key when it comes to email marketing! Through it, you can create smaller groups of subscribers based on specific demographics and criteria – this, in turn, helps you when it comes to personalizing content.

List: A list is a collection of email addresses from people who have given you permission to reach out to them.

Landing Page: A landing page refers to a standalone website that’s been specifically created for a unique marketing campaign. Landing pages can be used to inform, encourage sign-ups, or give readers something (like a free digital product) in exchange for them to opt-in and become an email subscriber.

Pop-up form: Pop-up forms are small boxes that – as the name suggests – pop up throughout your website. In email marketing, these can be used to encourage new sign-ups through encouraging CTAs!

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): This set of rules and regulations are put in place to protect users and their rights. Through them, you can only collect contact details (names, emails, and other personal information) from people who have consciously and freely given their consent to you. Tricking people into signing up, or messaging them when they haven’t agreed to receive communications from you? That’s a no-no. 

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dig into our top tips for making the most of email marketing for your small business.

Our top 5 email marketing for small business tips

Email marketing might seem daunting at first, we get that. However, once you start doing it, you’ll soon realize that planning, creating, scheduling, and even testing your email marketing campaigns can be a lot more fun than sending out social media posts and ads into the void 👀

Personally, over at The Quirky Pineapple Studio HQ, we’re huge fans of email marketing! 

We use it to connect and communicate with our audience, to announce special releases and products, to give our customers insider tips we don’t share anywhere else..well, we use it for pretty much everything.

That said, we’ve tried and tested a lot of things that have worked and have flopped in the past – and there’s no shame in admitting that!

And after so many years of trying and working and pushing, we’ve found a sweet spot with the things that help us continue to grow. Ready for an insider look? Let’s go!

Here are five of our most beginner-friendly email marketing tips for small business 👇

Tip 01: Start with growing your email list

The first thing you should probably try to do as a beginner is to create an actual email list of people who are happy to receive your content and are interested in keeping in touch with you.

Let’s face it: if you don’t even have an email list…who are you going to be emailing anyway?

READ MORE: 7 Hassle-Free Ways to Grow Your Email List

Collecting emails for this can happen in a lot of different ways. Here are a few you can try as a new business owner:

  • Create a free download and advertise it on social media/your website with a landing page where people can drop in their emails.
  • Host a webinar or masterclass where people can sign-up via email.
  • Ask your customers for feedback with a survey and include a field where they can write their email address.
  • Use pop-ups on your website asking people to join the mailing list and offer them benefits for doing so: discounts, pre-sales, insider tips, etc.

Once you start with a good base of email addresses, you can then start to plan the content you’ll be sending out, what it will look like, how often it will be delivered, and all of that other good stuff!

Tip 02: It’s about quality, not quantity

Our second “beginner tip” is that, with email marketing, it’s more about the quality of the content you’re sending out in comparison to the quantity of it.

Whereas with social media you’re constantly trying to be ever-present (posting everyday, twice a day, showing up on stories, making reels, commenting on people’s stuff…oof, that was exhausting), email marketing is more about creating and curating content that feels good, looks great, and makes a difference in the reader’s life.

After all, emails usually interrupt a person’s day to day with a notification. And let’s be honest: who would want to get 20 notifications a day – or even 20 a week – from the same person just dropping tidbits all the time?

READ MORE: 6 Engaging Writing Tips to Boost Your Content

In order to plan for a more successful email marketing campaign, take a long look at the content you’ve already produced and the work you do and jot down ideas of the type of content you can share directly to your audience’s inbox.

Focus on writing and sharing content that your subscribers actually want to read and see:

  • High-performing social media content
  • A link to a new blog that you’ve just published
  • A link to an older blog that might be relevant due to current circumstances
  • A check-in or “Hello!” from the founder with what’s coming next for the company or what your audience should keep their eyes peeled for
  • A discount code for an event happening soon (whether it’s a self-hosted event or something organized by a different brand you have partnered with)
  • Share content YOU found interesting from different voices (YouTube videos, podcasts, essays, books…)
  • A call to action (CTA) to your website, product, seminar…you name it

It’s all about adding value to their day after buzzing into their inbox and lighting up their phone screen!

Tip 03: Optimize your emails (mobile, accessibility & beyond)

This one’s a biggie! Optimizing your emails covers a HUGE base: from design to accessibility, ease-of-use, etc. Let’s dig in one step at a time.

Fact: most people read emails from their phones. With that in mind, it’s essential that your emails are readable and enjoyable on mobile – otherwise, you might lose people before they’ve even made it to the first sentence.  

That’s where optimization – and working with specialized email marketing platforms – comes in! 

Most of the email marketing platforms already have the tools you need to design and organize beautiful emails that will fit both desktop and mobile email screens. This means that all you need to worry about is what you’ll be sending out… the tool you choose will take care of the rest!

Working links, buttons, and embedded sign-up forms are also there to help you create optimized email campaigns that make life easier for your readers – you can provide subscribers with easy access to content and information on your website or elsewhere.

In the same line, focusing your efforts on creating accessible email marketing campaigns is also important in order to remain inclusive. A few tips for accessible email marketing include:

  • Avoid giant chunks of text, use bullet points instead
  • Choose fonts and colors that are readable
  • Provide ALT tags and descriptions
  • Use headers so that screen readers can decipher the information

Another quick optimization tip? Personalize your emails! Beyond using their first name, you can create and segment different email campaigns that will reach your audience at the moments when they need it the most.

Tip 04: Test before you send

Look back to your old school or office-work days. Do you remember the moment of panic that takes over when you send an email…and forget to include an attachment. What if you spell someone’s name wrong?  Mild embarrassment aside, these are all things that could have been avoided with a double-check or test!

When it comes to getting ready to hit that “Send” button…test it first. 

Email marketing platforms all have the option of sending out a test email to yourself.  In the test email, you can make sure that everything looks good, that all links work well, that the images are aligned and where they’re meant to be…all those little details that make a difference between an email that WOWs and one that leaves people scratching their head.

Tip 05: Track your results

After all is said and done and your email campaign has been boosted off…there’s still work to be done!

You didn’t think we were gonna let you off that easily, did you? 😉

Our final tip – and arguably one of the most important going forward – is to ALWAYS track your results. 

After all, they’re the one real-life way to see and understand:

  • What your readers are enjoying the most
  • Which subject lines work best
  • The type of language you should use
  • How certain formats perform (for the better or not)
  • What readers are clicking the most (specialized trackable links are a great add-on for this!)

If you send an email and ignore the results, you might continue to misuse your time doing certain things that aren’t working. Tracking and updating your email campaigns to make them as effective as possible won’t just make your efforts worth it. It’s also a fun way to keep things moving and prevent people from getting bored.

Wrapping things up: email marketing tips for small business

Email marketing is such a powerful tool that any small business can leverage in order to connect with new people, keep their audience informed, and share information that they believe their customers will find interesting and useful.

If you’re a beginner and you’re looking for a few handy tips to boost your confidence to get started, here are five of our favorites:
Tip 01: Start with growing your email list
Tip 02: It’s about quality, not quantity
Tip 03: Optimize your emails
Tip 04: Test before you send
Tip 05: Track your results

The best time to get started with email marketing for your small business is…now! Take the plunge, don’t be afraid to try something new, and get ready to learn a new way to boost your business that doesn’t necessarily involve a social media blitz!

Do you use email marketing to grow your small business? Tell the community how venturing into the world of email has helped you and what you wish you’d known in the beginning!

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