How to Start Email Marketing + Why

Email is not dead

You heard me right. Email is not dead, which means we should take advantage of this incredible marketing outlet. How? Through the power of newsletters.

Don’t believe me? Let’s dive into the facts: Email newsletters created by small businesses are opened more often than any other content they publish on any other platform, which includes social media and websites. The vast majority of Americans still check their email almost every day. This means that email newsletters allow small businesses to place information and promotions in the inboxes of their subscribers, which is where many of them spend much of their time, during and outside of work, anyway. This is why email newsletters work well for B2B and B2C businesses.

According to AgencyAnalytics, “the median ROI for email is 122%. Social media comes in at a distant second place, with an ROI of 28%.”

Facebook, the most used social media platform, has about 2.3 billion users monthly worldwide. Email, however, has about 3.8 billion users monthly worldwide. AgencyAnalytics also says that “on average, one in five marketing emails gets opened, with a click-through rate of 3.57%; while on Facebook, you can expect a click-through rate of a measly 0.07%.”

While both email marketing and social media marketing have their place in your overall marketing strategy, as well as other content areas such as blogging, email marketing predominantly leads to higher sales when used correctly over the course of many years. However, it’s important to not solely rely on email for sales because your business needs a complete marketing strategy. Why? Individual potential customers prefer to use different platforms, which means they prefer to be reached in a variety of ways (e.g. social media, snail mailers, billboard ads, digital ads, etc.). Plus, having multiple platforms to reach your potential customers will help increase your brand engagement overall.

Focus on the leads

Email is great for catching leads, or prospective customers’ email addresses, for your business. Your prospective customers and current customers want to know what you can do for them. They have questions about your products or services, company culture and more. They lead busy lives, so it’s easy for them to forget about your brand after an initial encounter on your website or at an event.

What does this have to do with email newsletters?

An email newsletter is a vehicle to share your latest content, promotions, personnel insights, personal stories and more. This vehicle gives you access to your subscribers at any time or any day, which means you can nurture leads with the intent that they will become customers. You can also nurture current customer relationships to encourage repeat business.

What email newsletters can do

If email campaigns are vehicles, then there is a variety of email newsletter types out there, all with different purposes. For example, the minivan email shares event registration information, the sports car email promotes your latest sale and the reliable two-door truck email hauls curated content. Comparisons aside, email newsletters do the following:

  • Remind your subscribers about your brand and products or services on a regular basis, keeping you top-of-mind when they’re ready to purchase
  • Offer your subscribers special insight into your expertise, which provides you credibility in your industry
  • Reach subscribers who left your website
  • Reach more potential customers than through social media alone
  • Inform subscribers about sales and promotions
  • Share your website content directly with customers where they’re at (in their inboxes)

The first 3 steps in email marketing

Before you start an email marketing program for your small business, take these three steps: choose your goals, decide what to say and choose your email marketing platform.

1. Choose your goals.

The main purpose of an email newsletter is to reach your subscribers where they visit almost daily – their inbox. To truly reach them, you must be strategic with your goals and your content, which includes text information, images, and other mediums. When it comes to email marketing goals, we must first discuss your purpose for creating an email marketing program to begin with. Do you want to offer promotions? Do you want to engage your customers after they leave your website? Do you want to keep your current customers in the loop on your latest products or services? These are all great goals on their own or combined.

Next, how will you measure these goals? Do you want thousands of email subscribers? Do you want a certain number of purchases every quarter? Do you want to offer insight to your subscribers – insights they can’t receive anywhere else – because you want to share your passion for your area of expertise? (You monitor the last goal through email opens and click-throughs.) Your goals will connect to how you review your analytics after you start sending campaigns, so nail them down now. However you decide to measure the success of your email marketing program, make a note of it and update your goals as necessary, such as annually.

Many small businesses are successful with email marketing because they offer value to their subscribers. The value they offer varies by different industries, but it can look like a freebie, tips-and-tricks, or free, exclusive content. They see their email contact list(s) as people they want to help first, and potential customers second. If you provide value for your subscribers, they will be more likely to purchase from you and suggest your business to their friends.

If your goal is to have immediate results, you will probably be let down. Just like everything else in the business world, overnight success is rare. Usually, success takes determination, patience, strategy and quality work. So be patient with the process.

2. Decide what to say.

If you want to provide value for your subscribers, then deciding what to tell them will be easier. First, narrow in on your intended audience AKA your future customers. Hopefully, you already know who your ideal customers are, so start there. Do you have multiple audience groups? Or just one? Now, based on who you will be speaking to, what can you offer them for free? What questions do they often ask you? By answering questions before you’re asked, you are seen as a trustworthy expert in your industry.

Do you have to reinvent the wheel every email? Absolutely not. Emails are a great place to repurpose other content, like website content and blog posts. You can also share personal stories, such as the history of your business, and special insight into your business. Make your emails like an exclusive club that offers special content only for your email subscribers or sent to them first. Who doesn’t want to be the first to know industry insights, promotions or the latest trend?

3. Choose your email marketing platform.

Please do not send mass emails from your business email account. This is the first rule of email marketing. Instead, use an email marketing platform, such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, Drip or ConvertKit. Choose your platform based on the following items:

  • Your personal business needs
  • Email marketing budget (some are free while others offer free trials)
  • Whether you need to integrate other services (such as Shopify or WordPress)
  • The design options you’re looking for (Do you want to create emails from HTML or do you want a simple email builder?)

These platforms will not only help you design beautiful emails, but they will also provide you with reports after a campaign sends so you can monitor the performance of your emails. They also help you organize your contacts so you can send different subscribers different content based on their preferences and previous habits. You can also create special emails, such as welcome emails and automated emails when you use an email marketing platform.

Do a little research on the email marketing platforms out there before creating an account. You can also ask other small businesses in your industry for what email marketing platform they prefer to use, which might come in handy if you ever have any questions about using it.

Are you ready?

If creating an email campaign for your future subscribers excites you, then go! Get started! Start playing around in the email marketing platform of your choice. Most platforms are intuitive, offer step-by-step video tutorials or show you how-to tips through your first campaign creation. If not, we’ll break down your next steps for email marketing success in a future blog post, so stay tuned.