14 Email Marketing Tips For Small and Medium Size Businesses

Written by Amelia McDougall

Amelia McDougall is a Marketer for Topodium Group.

May 26, 2020

Regardless of the size of your business, email marketing is definitely a tool you should be using. We’ve put together these 14 email marketing tips for small and medium size businesses to help you get on your way to creating great email marketing campaigns that have impact and deliver the goods!

Email marketing is a simple, effective way to contact a large group of contacts or customers at one time, without the cost or effort of printing and posting media. Straight up, email marketing is more cost effective than many other forms of marketing for small to medium sized businesses because you can achieve a lot without huge budgets or resource.

  1. Have a clear goal
  2. Monitor your results
  3. Make it easy to subscribe
  4. Make sure subscribers know what to expect
  5. Send a confirmation email after submission
  6. Make a content calendar
  7. Segment, segment, segment your email marketing list
  8. Design brand reflective emails
  9. Know the rules
  10. Make sure your content is skim read friendly
  11. Design for mobile as well as desktop
  12. Use attention grabbing subject lines
  13. Include your social media profiles
  14. Keep your contact database and lists fresh

You will want to make sure your email marketing activity is set up for success, so let’s get started on some email marketing tips to drive your businesses and engage your customers.

1. Have a Clear Goal

First up in our email marketing tips is making sure your emails have a clear goal. Every email you send should have a clear purpose. Before you hit the send button, you’ll want to make sure that your email is in line with your strategy, and that it’s going to work for your goals and achieve your aim.

For example, is your business objective to acquire more sales of a certain product over the next month? A marketing email to drive sales conversions, and subsequent follow up emails to those customers who engaged with your initial email will likely do the trick and drive those sales.

Maybe your business objective is to drive more general interest in your services, so a newsletter with business updates, case studies and industry thought-pieces may generate new enquiries or open up conversations.

Make sure you understand what you want to achieve out of your communication, and then tailor your email to match it. A good email is one that knows what its aim is – no mixed messages, no competing call-to-actions, no confusing design. Aim for simple, easy to digest, and with a defined intent.

2. Monitor Your Results

Now you have an idea of what you want your emails to achieve, you want to make sure you know how to measure success. What metrics are you using to identify your wins?

By checking your results after a campaign you’ll be able to work out what is actually benefiting your business, what campaigns are your most successful or what day and what time sending your emails gets you the best results. This is a continuous process and you’re going to want to keep on top of stats like email open rate, click rate, unsubscribe rate etc so you can replicate good results across all your email campaigns.

3. Make It Easy To Subscribe

Another one of our great email marketing tips here; there’s no need to overcomplicate your email marketing processes.

One straight forward process is gaining subscriptions or sign-ups to your emails. Make sure you have a sign-up process on your website, blog page, and share the sign-up process on your social media channels and other relevant marketing collateral.

Thinking about the placement of your sign-up form can really set your email marketing subscriptions up for success. Make sure you look at your Google Analytics data to see which pages are receiving high traffic, and consider if it’s a suitable place to have a sign-up form, and if it is then implement your form and keep a close eye on your conversion rate.

During the sign-up process, you’ll want to acquire data from your customers. Keep your sign-up required fields to a minimum, as this will increase the likelihood of sign-up form completions. Check your sign-up form and make sure you’re only asking for the information your really need, like the contacts name and email address. If you have intentions to take your email marketing to the next level, include a ‘birth date’ field, so you can send exclusive offers or deals, or even just a nice birthday message to help them celebrate.

Check out these email marketing subscription examples from websites which utilise their footer bar for their sign up form. This is a great way of making sure your email subscription is present throughout your users navigation of your website.

Email Marketing Tips Example Lush
Lush Ltd

If you’re not seeing the traction you want with your email subscriptions, why not investigate other positioning? A pop-up, sign-up form might be the way to go, however, be cautious about this method as pop-ups are a debated method for email marketing subscriptions.

There is data that supports this method may improve your sign-up rate, and it’s true that many users of your site will sign up when the pop-up is literally right in front of them. But, we all know how annoying it can be when you are browsing a site and you’re met with unsolicited pop ups. Yet, used in the right way, they can be effective for driving your subscriber rate.

Consider more subtle ways of using pop-ups, such as implementing a time delay pop-up that doesn’t immediately intrude on the users experience, and is perhaps triggered when they scroll to a certain point on the page. Make sure your pop-up renders properly and that it includes a clear exit button to close.

See below some of the example from sporting giant Adidas. They offer a high value lure to sweeten the deal, and soften the impact of being hit by a pop-up box.

Email Marketing Tips Example Adidas

4. Make Sure Subscribers Know What To Expect

Quality over quantity when it comes to your subscribers and building your email marketing database.

Aim for quality contacts – and by quality we mean contacts that actually want you to contact them. One single contact who wants to engage with your business or brand is worth 100 contacts who have no wish to read your emails or wish to receive them.

Make sure you’re clear from the outset with your subscribers. No one wants their inbox full of emails they didn’t know they were signing up for, so make sure you are transparent with your contacts at the very start. Tell them whether you’ll be sending them company updates, newsletters or marketing emails. Best practice is to have modular options so users can check off which type of contact they’d like to receive, and how they would like to receive it (email, text, postal).

You want to make sure that on your sign-up forms you are providing the contacts with all the information they need to know so they can make an informed choice as to whether they want to be on your list or not.

Less is most definitely more, check out the example below from The Skimm. There’s not endless fields to fill out, and there is a clear, concise explanation of what you’ll be getting by providing them with your contact information.

Email Marketing Tips Example The Skimm
The Skimm

5. Send a Confirmation Email After Submission

Often one of our overlooked email marketing tips. A welcome email is a good way to remind contacts of who you are and what they can expect from your communication with them.

You should use this opportunity to welcome the new contact lead. Some companies even offer exclusive deals and discounts for new sign-ups or links to useful information. This is your first opportunity to showcase what benefit you provide to your contacts and why being on your contact list is so great.

6. Make a Content Calendar

Keep on top of your email marketing activity. By creating a content calendar you’ll be able to map out and track your email interactions with your contacts. It also allows you to visually identify any gaps in your email marketing calendar, and ensure you’re reliably sending out emails consistently and frequently.

For example, if you have a monthly newsletter, it is important that you stick to your commitment of sending this out every month. Consistency is important. Sporadic email marketing communication will run the risk of your customers forgetting who you are, or becoming ‘switched-off’ to receiving your emails. That’s when your emails just pile up in their inbox unread, because your contacts don’t know what to expect or when to expect it from your business. It can even get as bad as being marked as spam or seeing significant drops in email open rates.

Making an email marketing content calendar will ensure your communications to your contacts become an event, a joyful experience, and something your customers look forward to! Obviously, a content calendar allows you to plan and navigate the content, design and delivery of your communications ahead of time.

7. Segment, Segment, Segment Your Email Marketing List

Pressing send on an email going to every contact on your database and hoping for the best is reckless.Segmenting your email marketing database into lists is a far more effective way

Segmenting your lists is a far more effective way to market through emails than pressing send on emails to your entire customer base. Not all customers are the same and it doesn’t matter whether your company is B2C or B2B your contacts are all individuals. You should start to identify what different segments make up your audience like individual interests, age and any factors that may be exclusive to your business practice. (for further guidance check out this article from HubSpot about how to identify buyers personas)  Email segmentation will boost your engagement and conversion rates, also you’ll ensure that your emails are relevant and will reduce the likelihood of your emails being marked as spam.

8. Design Brand Reflective Emails

The most effective email marketing happens when it doesn’t feel like marketing at all. How do businesses achieve this magical sleight-of-hand? They make sure their email marketing is aligned with their branding as well as their brand voice; this means their communications feel authentic and not too sales-y.

Your email marketing should be an extension of your brand; it should feel like your style, your approach and contain content which many customers would instantly recognise as yours. This is one of our fundamental email marketing tips that will serve you well.

Simple things like including your logo and brand colours can make your emails easily identifiable. Make sure you utilise your brand tone of voice, as you would across all your marketing, for consistency.

9. Know The Rules

Handling your customers data and being able to contact them is a big responsibility.

You will want to be sure that you’re following email best practice when it comes to your email marketing, alongside data protection and processing laws. GDPR came into effect two years ago and it changed the way in which all companies and organisations handle their data, and how they explain their data handling and processing procedures to their customers.

At all times you should be clear and transparent with your customers, and make sure you have the right set up for opt-ins, email preferences and unsubscribes. Always provide your email contacts with an option to opt out of email campaigns, and make sure if you are capturing data that your forms are GDPR compliant.

Directing customers to view your up to date Privacy Policy is always good practice, too.

10. Make Sure Your Content Is Skim Read Friendly

We all lead busy lives. We all have inboxes full of companies competing for our attention.

Your email marketing designs need to stand out and make an impact, and cut through all the noise. If you manage that, you also have to engage your customers among all the other distractions.

In this 2008 study by Jakob Nielsen, on average a user will read 20% to 28% of words in your email marketing copy. This is supported by our ever shortening attention spans. It is believed that adults typically pay attention to one task for about eight seconds. Collectively, all this means you’ve got an incredibly short time to make an impression, and get your message across.

Make sure your writing is punchy, often short-form, and in bitesize chunks. Your content needs to be quickly absorbed and to the point. Consider your email’s visual appeal as your readers’ brains can interpret images much quicker, to be precise the brain processes images in just 13 milliseconds.

11. Design For Mobile As Well As Desktop

The balance of mobile and desktop usage for email sometimes depends on your audience and their demographic. That said, on average more and more people are reading and managing their emails on their mobiles.

In 2019, according to a survey released by Litmus, mobile has become the most popular, with 42% of all emails being read on a mobile device in comparison to 40% on webmail and 18% on desktop.

So, what does this mean for your company? Well, we can see that email marketing will most likely be opened on mobile, and there’s a few things worse for your email marketing interaction rate than an email that renders poorly for mobile devices.

If you’re not a whizz with coding, that shouldn’t stop you. There are many email marketing services and providers that will cover your responsive design needs, such as MailChimp and SendInBlue. Many email design platforms also have a ‘mobile view’ so you can check how your email will render when it’s opened on a mobile device.

12. Use Attention Grabbing Subject Lines

Keep receiving those boring, same old emails? Is your inbox a graveyard of unread, uninspiring subject lines just piling up, waiting for the day you finally have a good email blitz?

Make sure your emails stand out from the bland inbox onslaught. To avoid your marketing emails going unread, make sure you use subject lines that will appeal to your readers and make them want to stop scrolling and interact with your content.

For an email subject line you’re going to want something that is short but descriptive, and ideally it should generate a degree of curiosity or intrigue. Campaign Monitor have a great resource guide to help get you started on creating better email subject lines. Oh, and often a good ol’ discount or promotional headline can’t go wrong as long as you use it sparingly in your email marketing approach!

13. Include Links To Your Social Media

Did you know that 76% of emails include social media buttons?

For small and medium businesses your social media is a brilliant way to market your business, products and services and is the most common platform used for building brand awareness.

Social Media links or buttons also act as secondary call-to-actions. By including your social media accounts in your email marketing, you’ll be able to make your contacts aware of other platforms they can interact with you on, as well as providing more interesting, entertaining and inspiring content for them to indulge in. Who knows, maybe they prefer Instagram, or maybe they love Facebook and prefer to engage with you on those platforms.

14. Keep Your Contact Database and Lists Fresh

Emails bouncing? Emails flagged as spam? Emails not even being opened? What a nightmare! Last up in our 14 email marketing tips for small and medium size businesses is a complete must for email marketing managers and the like.

All those hours you spent crafting beautiful email marketing designs, following our Topodium Group advice, and building your email lists from subscriptions – all gone to waste if you’re not managing your email database and nurturing your lists.

If your email marketing efforts are failing and you’re finding your emails aren’t being opened or that you’re receiving a high ‘flagged as spam’ rate, you should consider your options carefully. It may well be a great time to run a re-engagement campaign. If a contact doesn’t react to your re-engagement emails you can count them out.

Your email database is worth spending time on. Like taking care of a garden, you need to create the best conditions for your email list to grow and thrive. That includes sometimes pruning back and cutting out the deadwood.

Final Thoughts

I hope my 14 email marketing tips for small and medium size businesses has helped provide some great content to getting you on your way to email marketing success.

If Topodium Group can assist with any of your email marketing requirements, feel free to reach out!

I’m going to leave you with two quotes on email marketing that I personally love.

“Email has an ability many channels don’t: creating valuable, personal touches – at scale.” – David Newman

A small list that wants exactly what you’re offering is better than a bigger list that isn’t committed.” – Ramsay Leimenstoll

This article was written by Amelia McDougall, Marketer at Topodium Group.

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