Email Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses and Startups

Email Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses and Startups

Email services have been playing an important role in the digital world, even back when the road to what we today call the Internet was still being paved. However, as trends are constantly changing, over the course of time email marketing has become synonymous with spam. That is when we started replacing it with activities like status updates, likes, pins and tweets.

In time, spam messages have occupied even our social media accounts as well and we have come full circle. In fact, given all the marketing noise on such channels, we can safely claim that our inboxes have become one of the most reliable sources of valuable information. This is the main reason why experienced entrepreneurs return to email as a way to convert more customers and increase sales. Moreover, building an effective marketing campaign has never been more important than it is now.

Segment your Target Audience

In 2015, the number of emails sent and received on a daily basis was over 205 billion. This figure is expected to keep rising and reach over 246 billion by the end of 2019. Even though such data may be vital to your future surveys, these are more than mere numbers. In order to address your target audience properly, you need to learn a thing or two about them.

What you should know is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to customers. In other words, no matter how big or small they are, the majority of businesses don’t cater to just one type of a potential client. On the contrary, they need to learn how to appeal to different groups of people.

That’s exactly where list segmentation comes to light. By resorting to this strategy, you will manage to narrow your focus down and make your marketing campaign more valuable. According to aHubSpot’s research, segmenting customers results in larger open and lower unsubscribe rates, increased email relevance, greater deliverability, better sales lead, as well as higher revenue.

Get Whitelisted

Once you segment your target demographic and determine who they are, you have to stimulate them to enter their email and not redirect your every message to spam. In other words, you need to get whitelisted, which (in the terms of emailing) can be compared to becoming someone’s friend on a social network. Of course, to achieve this, you need to have a clear goal and a solid backup strategy. In order to determine when, where and how to approach them, you need to give an answer to the following questions:

  • What is your primary intention – just to get noticed (even via spam messages) or to provide your subscribers with relevant content and updates?
  • What do your customers get once they enter their email address?
  • How often will you be emailing them?
  • Are you willing to offer premium content, discounts or giveaways to your customers?

Obviously, simply asking your visitors to enter their email address in a box on your website is not enough. Today, one of the most effective ways to approach your customers is to offer some kind of valuable incentive that would motivate them to sign up for your email list. There are numerous ways to do that, including free downloads, whitepapers or eBooks, updates lists (product updates, new releases, etc.) and product giveaways.

In this stage, there is one rule you need to keep in mind – in order to succeed, free content you offer needs to be better than your competitors’ paid content.

Don’t Force Intimacy

There is one thing that people hate more than generic content – generic content with the fake sense of intimacy. In other words, forcing familiarity is quite transparent and will drive many subscribers away. Now, the question is what the difference is between the sincere and the forced relationship with your customers. Even though we cannot strictly draw the line here, we can safely claim that the main difference lies in your approach.

For example, many marketers believe that personalized email greetings should be always used to reach their customers. Well, given the rising number of cybersecurity issues, such as identity thefts, phishing and credit card frauds, many consumers have become pretty skeptical when it comes to the emails that begin with their names. After all, how did you come by their personal information, in the first place? Of course, this is ok if they themselves entered their name when subscribing.

On the other hand, a genuine and trustworthy relationship with your clients requires an effective CRM software. Only this way will you be able to bring together all the information in order to get valuable statistics on each customer, in real time. Always make your clients involved (through surveys or market researches), be attentive to their problems and, of course, reward them properly. Once you do that, you can conduct an entire reward program around their interest, habits, likes or even dislikes.

Long or Short Subject Lines?

Your customers get dozens of emails every day, including free coupons, invitations to a friend’s party, newsletters, password resets, social media notifications and many more. In such situations, what actually gets them to open an email is usually a creative subject line. Just take an example of Barack Obama’s “Hey,” Warby Parker’s “Uh-oh, your prescription is expiring” or BuzzFeed’s “Not Cool, Guys.”But, what makes them original? Let’s find out.

  • They are short and powerful. Even though getting your point in such a small number of words may be difficult, it has proven extremely effective. Namely, numerous researches have proven that the subject lines of 49 characters and below increase the open rate.
  • They don’t use “” email addresses. This is self-explanatory- people simply hate communicating with robots.
  • They are straight-forward. It’s undeniable that clarity is more important than an elusive and flowery language. After all, your goal is to transmit a perfectly clear message to your readers.
  • They address you directly. If you don’t want to force intimate relationship with your customers and use personalization tokens, you can always go with “You,” “Hey You” or simply “Hey.”

Also, you should make your mail spam-free, explain in a few words how a reader would benefit from it, employ A/B testing or add a preview text to the subject line. Additionally, avoid overusing capitalization and making false promises.

Use Email Marketing Software

As soon as one branch of digital marketing skyrockets, the number of software handcrafted for it starts to rise, as well. There is a plethora of tools for email marketing, including Benchmark, SendinBlue, ActiveCampaign, Bluecore, MailChimp, Infusionsoft and many more. With them, you will be able to lead your automated campaigns 24/7 and, most importantly, have more time to work on other aspects of your online marketing strategy.

READ MORE: A Beginners’ Guide On Setting Up Your First MailChimp Campaign

Optimize for Mobile

According to recent researches, more than 47% of email opens are from mobile devices. Therefore, it is necessary for you to optimize your email for mobile users. Here, you will need a responsive design to ensure that your email looks good regardless of the device it is opened on. In order to achieve this, you need to:

  • Reduce the size of image files that would load slowly. Even one-second delay in loading time could result in the drop in conversions. You should also resize the images by proportion. All you need to do is enter your mail’s HTML editor and change the part of the code so that your image size is defined by a proportion and not by pixels.
  • Leave enough room for clicking. When optimizing your mail for mobile, remember to make it click-friendly. This means that you need to leave enough space around the links and CTAs in order to make them accessible and, most importantly, clickable. Avoid piling links on top of each other, as they prevent your readers to open them and take action.
  • Finally, make sure that your email is opened adequately across multiple devices. You can even invest in a piece of software that would test your email and show you how it appears on a different email client.

Sending emails to strangers is somewhat like approaching them in a dark street. They don’t know what you want from them, but there is a fair chance you are malicious. For this reason, you need to act in the digital environment like you would in this fictional situation.

From the very first word (subject headline), you need to be clear about what you want from your customers. You need to be quick about why you are contacting them in the first place. One last thing, you need to always keep your hands where they can see them… well, maybe not everything is 100% applicable. 🙂


Sarah Green

Sarah Green explores the latest web trends and covers stories related to technology, startups and digital life in general. Writing professionally since 2012, she has developed a sixth sense for trending topics in these fields.

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