Email marketing is one of the most important aspects of running a business in 2023, right up there with your sales plan. Small businesses have a number of all-inclusive, cloud-based, and user-friendly email marketing services to choose from, such as Mailchimp or Constant Contact.
The most popular programs make it easy to reach your customers, but it’s up to you to create the substance of your email marketing campaigns. You need compelling content, aesthetically pleasing templates, and quality leads to make your emails resonate with the audience. Here are 11 ways to fine-tune your small-business marketing emails for maximum results.
1. Keep Your Email Lists Organic
When compiling contact lists, it can be tempting to buy contacts. The contacts, though, are usually just random names — not organic leads you earned from a meaningful interaction. Using purchased email lists can tank your performance numbers because very few of those leads will open your email.
In the European Union, the General Data Protection Regulation requires marketers to get email recipients' consent before contacting them. Purchased contacts won’t satisfy this law.
2. Send Automated Emails From a Named Individual
Your emails should come from a specific person rather than a generic company email, or worse, a “no-reply” address. The U.S. CAN-SPAM law forbids sending emails from a “no-reply” address, so make sure you’re in compliance with that regulation.
Sending emails via a real person gives them a personal touch and increases the chances recipients will open and engage with them.
3. Send Your Emails to a Specific Person
In the same vein, don’t send your emails to “Dear Customer." To many recipients, it may signal a combination of laziness or technical ignorance. Addressing each contact by name vastly increases the chances they’ll open and read your email.
Collect clients' names when you get their email addresses, and use a customizable email client program to auto-fill each contact’s name. If you aren’t sure how to do this, start with a simple Google Form.
4. Don’t Send Visually Bland Emails
Once a contact opens your email, you still need to capture their attention with a visually interesting email. Use novel fonts, graphics, and eye-catching logos to present an engaging, aesthetically pleasing email.
While creating your email, consider using design elements that are also common on your website. This will provide visual continuity, which customers notice and appreciate.
5. Avoid Distracting Design
There’s a fine line between a meticulously designed email and a cluttered one. As a general rule, use only two or three fonts in your email, or you'll risk making it look chaotic and distracting. Don’t make your fonts too big, either. Stick to 10- or 12-point fonts so your email is readable on all devices.
6. Perfect Your Subject Lines
The subject line is the beginning of your pitch, so it needs to hook the reader. Whether it’s an enticing premise, an irresistible deal, or a big announcement, the subject line should make the customer want to open it. Anticipate and address your customers' problems in the subject line. Be descriptive, but don't give away everything.
7. Review Your Preview Text
You don’t want the preview text of your email to read “Can’t see images?” or “Email not displaying correctly?” Many contacts will assume the email is malfunctioning or was sent by accident, and they probably won't open it.
In addition to the subject line, your preview text should convey the subject matter of the email in a concise and enticing way. It should make the recipient want to read more and open the email. Get this right and it could have a massive impact on your conversion rate.
8. Write Appealing Content
The easiest way to make your email marketing campaign a success is to give your audience content that’s relevant so they can’t resist opening your email. If you’re a moving company, send comprehensive moving checklists or city guides. Don’t stray too far outside your sphere of expertise.
If you don’t know what content to send, that may be a sign you don’t know your market as well as you should. Do some in-depth research on your subscriber base so you can hone your messaging.
9. Harness the Power of Narratives
Great campaigns tell a story and evoke emotion. The more effective you are at telling a compelling story about your product, the more customer loyalty you’ll inspire.
Don’t feel pressured to write a three-act narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. Your narrative can be as short as an anecdote that speaks to your customer base.
For example, if you’re a company that buys homes for cash, share a short account of a seller who needed to sell fast and was saved by using your service. This kind of story can be simultaneously affirming, enticing, and inspiring.
10. Time Your Emails Properly
When you send your emails is just as important as the content that's in them. Sending emails on the weekend means they probably won't get read. Sending them on Monday morning means they’ll likely be lost in the crush of weekend catch-up. Similarly, a Friday afternoon email will usually be overlooked.
A general rule is to send emails on a weekday, around the middle of the week, at around midday. Closely examine your metrics to see when your emails perform best and adjust accordingly.
11. Never Stop Optimizing
Closely monitor your email stats to see what works and what doesn’t. Consider strategies such as A/B testing in which you send different campaigns to different portions of your contact list to see which performs better. Your email marketing should always be a work in progress, never a finished product.
Email marketing isn’t all that different from other core aspects of running a business. It’s a mix of marketing, sales, and customer outreach. If you remember your ultimate goal of capturing interested, engaged customers, you’ll find that email marketing is an organic progression of what you’re already doing.