How To Create an Email Marketing Strategy for Your Small Business


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Creating an effective email marketing strategy requires focus because it involves many moving parts, regardless of business size. As such, you must manage each component and process well, so they fit seamlessly.

But before we go any deeper into how you can create an effective email marketing strategy, it helps to understand why it’s so crucial in the first place.

Key Takeaways

  • An email marketing return on investment (ROI) of 3,600% continues to shine as its best advantage over other marketing channels
  • 80% of marketers prefer email marketing over social media marketing
  • An email marketing strategy can help small business owners develop cohesive, effective, and focused email campaigns that convert
  • A vital aspect of an effective email is personalization
  • Developing an effective email marketing strategy starts with choosing the right email marketing services software to automate many tasks

How Email Marketing Helps Your Small Business

Email marketing statistics have been quite steady for many years. Despite the popularity of social media marketing, you need significant resources to manage it, mostly because it usually spans many platforms.

Using the best marketing tools can help, but it’s undeniable that social media marketing can be costly and is effort-intensive.

SocialPilot social media management tool landing page.
Source: SocialPilot

That could be the reason why 80% of marketers would prefer email over social media if it came to an either-or situation in their marketing budgets.

Another significant factor in this preference could be the solid 3,600% ROI with email marketing, compared to the ROI of social media marketing, which no one can seem to quantify successfully.

As a marketer and business owner, you want hard facts when planning your marketing budget. Secondly, monitoring email engagements and sales is much more manageable.

Some goals for your email marketing may include:

  • Engage current and prospective customers
  • Increase brand awareness and persistence
  • Provide value through content
  • Generate leads
  • Nurture leads

Additionally, as a small business, you can typically send three to five emails weekly to reach your customers easily if you have an effective strategy. More than half (64%) of small businesses use it, and 78% have seen increased engagement in the last 12 months.

In summary, email marketing is ideal for small businesses like yours for the following reasons:

  • It’s easy to use
  • It’s inexpensive
  • It’s easy to personalize
  • It’s nonintrusive
  • It’s measurable

Email marketing checks all the boxes from a marketing perspective. But a campaign’s success lives and dies on the effectiveness of your strategy.

How To Create an Email Marketing Strategy?

You can create a marketing strategy from scratch with the following steps:

  • Select the proper tools
  • Define your target audience
  • Develop your email list
  • Segment the audience
  • Consider the context
  • Set goals and objectives

Overall, an email marketing strategy provides the definition, structure, and coherence of a campaign, so your messages are on target and focus on accomplishing your goals. Without a plan in place, you’ll be flying blind, and your email marketing strategy may crash and burn.

Even if it’s relatively cheap, you’re still not maximizing its potential for helping your business grow.

So, what do you need to create an effective strategy? Let’s dive in.

Select the Proper Tools

No strategy is complete without the right tools to help you create and send emails and track and monitor their impact. The first tool you need is an email marketing service that can help you do everything from one platform.

The best email marketing services let you automate many of your email marketing tasks. One of our top picks for this is Constant Contact.

Constant contact automation & segmentation landing page.
Source: Constant Contact

The only thing it won’t do is write your email content, but you can do pretty much everything else on the platform. Its Core plan starts at $9.99 a month for up to 500 contacts and allows 24 sends per contact. You can select the Plus plan at $45 a month if you want full automation.

Constant Contact has tiered pricing so you can upgrade your plan (and cost) gradually as you grow your subscriber list. The only drawback is there’s no free plan you can try.

You might also want to consider SendinBlue if you just want to send emails. It has a free plan for sending up to 300 emails a day and unlimited contacts. But, it doesn’t include any advanced features. Constant Contact has an advantage because it focuses solely on email marketing and has many helpful features for creating an email marketing campaign.

Other email marketing tools are available on our list, or you could do your own research. Generally, you just need one email marketing software to complete your arsenal.

Define Your Target Audience

Your content depends on your target audience, so you need to define them before you hope to develop an effective strategy for reaching out to them. Your goal in defining your target audience is to find out what tactics you can use to engage and convert them.

Think of it as choosing bait for fishing. You need to identify the fish you want for your supper before selecting the most likely bait to attract that fish.

When defining your target audience, it helps to consider the following:

  • Current customers
  • Competitors’ customers
  • People who might benefit from your offerings

Current customers are a good gauge of your target audience because they represent the low-hanging fruit of your email campaign. But looking at your competitors’ customers also identifies markets where you can expand your business, as would considering people who are not buying but should be. Are they simply not aware of your products or services? That represents an opportunity for growth.

When considering these groups, try to group them using the following factors:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Parental status
  • Occupation
  • Location
  • Income
  • Education

The data you collect gives you a pretty good idea of the general makeup of your ideal audience. Add in any information about their hobbies, buying behavior, and personality traits to flesh out your ideal buyer even more.

Develop Your Email List

You can buy email lists easily from an email collection service, but they are hit and miss at best. You should develop your email list of people likely to buy from you. The best way to ensure that is to ask them for it. Have an opt-in form on your business site where people can voluntarily sign up to receive emails and notifications from you.

You can motivate site visitors to give up their email by sweetening the pot with gated content or a one-time offer. Don’t neglect the opportunity to collect emails or calling cards at trade exhibitions and similar events because participants are likely to be in your sweet spot in the ideal audience spectrum.

Segment the Audience

Defining your target audience and collecting email addresses takes a lot of work, but it isn’t the end of the line. You can hardly send the same message to a 30-something married woman with two small kids and a 22-year-old male with his first apartment.

They have different issues and needs, so you need to personalize your email content to address those issues and needs.

Personalization in marketing is more important than you might think. In a 2020 survey of United States and United Kingdom consumers, 42% consider content personalization as very or somewhat important. Furthermore, you can build relationships and trust with your subscribers by addressing them as individuals.

Short of creating a message for each person on your list, your best option is to segment your audience based on what they have in common. The simplest would be by gender or age range, although segmenting by profession or income might be more suitable for certain products and services. If that sounds like a lot of trouble, consider that segmented emails generate more than half (58%) of all revenue generated from emails.

Whatever way you choose to break up your email list, have a clear set of identifiers for each group and assign a buyer persona. A buyer persona can make it simpler for you to create personalized content based on different profiles.

Consider the Context

Context matters in marketing. Your business exists in the real world, so you must consider internal and external factors that dictate your goals and the strategies needed to reach them.

You can consider it from a Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat (SWOT) perspective. Consider the unique value proposition that gives you an edge over your competition (Strengths) and areas that puts you at a disadvantage (Weaknesses).

Next, consider trends and situations in your niche or industry that might help your business grow, such as loyal subscribers (Opportunities).

Finally, list down the trends and conditions that could make it harder for you to generate leads and revenue like a limited budget.

Set Goals and Objectives

Now that you have all the tools and ingredients for your strategy, it’s time to put them together by setting marketing goals and objectives. Doing this helps you determine if you’re getting anywhere with your marketing efforts.

Goals are the outcomes you want to achieve. What are you trying to accomplish? What’s the desired result at the end of each campaign? Sample goals are to boost sales, improve ROI, or increase subscriber engagement.

Objectives are steps that lead to goals. Sometimes you want to break down goals into smaller, easier-to-achieve targets. For example, if your goal is to improve customer engagement, an objective may be to get them to download your mobile app.

Remember that goals should help your efforts, not make it harder for you to succeed. The ideal business goals for email marketing should be specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART). The “SMARTer” your goals, the easier it’s to develop effective tactics to reach them.

For example, if you see that bundling certain products together increases your sales or those of your competitors. In that case, your goal with your email might be to increase sales by 50% by offering a specific bundle to existing customers for a week and at a discount. You can measure the response by tracking the click-through rates for the offer. It’s realistic because these are existing customers, and the offer is time-limited.

SMART goals and objectives help you monitor your campaigns’ performance and allow you to adjust as needed. Some SMART goals for your email marketing include:

  • Adding to your email list
  • Increasing the open rates
  • Improving click-through rates
  • Improving sales through email

Your marketing goals may apply to individual campaigns, or they can apply to all your campaigns at a particular point. Whatever you choose depends on your business goals.

How To Implement Your Strategy?

You have all you need to implement your strategy by this point. Now comes the hard part: preparing the email. Below are best practices for creating and sending emails that generate leads and converts.

  • Content: Keep it short, consistent with your brand image, and touch only on one topic. Few people like receiving long emails, and you don’t want to detract from your message by talking about too many things.
  • Personalization: Address the subscriber by name and ensure your message is relevant, friendly, and relatable. When addressing the recipient, write as you would when writing to a friend. Use a familiar tone. If you can, include region-specific references and information and end your email with a personal signature.
  • Subject line: Most people (64%) use the subject line to decide whether they open an email or not. Take the time and effort to create engaging, personalized, and persuasive subject lines for all your emails. Get inspiration from successful subject line examples.
  • Design: It might not seem like much, but a clean and beautiful email design can motivate more people to respond to it. The many templates available through email marketing software shouldn’t be too hard.
  • Image: Include one eye-catching and relevant image that displays on all devices.
  • CTA: Include one call to action (CTA) to send the recipient to the relevant landing page or offer. Ensure the CTA is easy to see and stands out from the rest of your content.
  • Schedule: Have a definite reason for sending emails on a particular day and time. You might base it on data that confirms when most of your subscribers open their emails from you. If you don’t have a clue, you can start sending emails on Tuesdays at 11 a.m. Eastern time, which one study identifies as most likely to get a response.
  • Mobile: A 2019 study shows that 61.9% of email opens are on mobile, so you want to ensure your email displays correctly on any device.
  • Unsubscribe: Always give your recipients the option to unsubscribe from your list. While this might sound counterproductive, it can help improve your credibility. When people know they can unsubscribe at any time, they’re more likely to open your emails and refrain from marking them as spam.

What To Do Next?

Check out the tools on our best email marketing services list and choose one that suits your needs and budget. If you’re not sure, maybe our full reviews can help.

Email marketing can significantly impact your bottom line, so you want to get started as soon as possiblee.

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