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How to Develop Effective Email Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses

Back in 1998, the film You’ve Got Mail was released. In it, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan fall in love through email exchanges.

What worked then still works today.

Of course, small business marketers aren’t concerned with finding love online. However, they are indeed seeking ways to connect with leads and customers. And email marketing is one of the best ways to do that.

Email marketing remains effective when you send personalized emails that resonate with your customers. Additionally, it is crucial to allow customers to manage the frequency and content of emails.

Unfortunately, few businesses are willing to do that, and many lack the know-how.

This guide covers everything essential about small business email marketing: its importance, best practices, and useful tools.

Why small businesses need email marketing

Amidst a stream of new marketing options, one strategy consistently delivers results: email marketing.

It directly engages your audience where they already spend time — their inbox. 

Unlike other methods, email marketing maintains customer engagement throughout their journey. Here are some benefits of small business email marketing:

1. Strengthen customer relationships

Email marketing affordably allows you to connect directly with customers and proves versatile across the entire sales funnel. 

Attract subscribers with personalized welcomes and exclusive offers, nurture leads with tailored content, and maintain engagement through regular feedback check-ins.

Check out how Miro makes its customers feel valued in this feedback email:

Image via ReallyGoodEmails

2. Boost brand awareness

Email marketing campaigns can be a great way to improve your branding game. You can share your mission with subscribers to show them what your brand is all about.

Keep them in the loop with your latest news and updates. Use your brand elements in your newsletters to make a lasting impact. 

Observe how Duolingo provides multiple details in this email to build brand awareness. 

Image via ReallyGoodEmails

3. Generate more revenue

Email marketing enables targeted marketing through personalized offers and tailored content. This helps boost conversion rates and even encourages repeat purchases.

Ultimately, email marketing is all about improving your small business’s profitability.

4. Enhance cost-effectiveness

This benefit alone should persuade every small business owner to start with email marketing. Email campaigns have long been associated with high ROI, and their targeted approach significantly improves conversion rates.

With advanced email marketing platforms, automating campaigns becomes effortless. Additionally, user-friendly templates and tools streamline email creation. This optimizes resource efficiency, saving costs.

Getting started with small business email marketing

If you’re ready to send your first business email to subscribers, here are the steps to follow:

Set your email marketing goal

This step may seem obvious, but it’s one that marketers often overlook. Taking extra time here at the outset can prevent aimless efforts later on.

Ask yourself: What are my goals for email marketing? What content will resonate with my audience? The responses will help you craft emails that cater to your customers’ needs.

For instance, if your goal is to increase sales, you might focus on creating promotional emails. To establish authority, share gated content, curated material, and webinar invitations.

On a micro level, each of your emails should have a single goal. This strategy will improve its effectiveness and prevent decision paralysis among your subscribers.

Grow your subscriber base

One of the major reasons why email marketing works is that people willingly opt-in to receive emails from you. But how do you build a subscriber list? Here are four effective methods:

1. Create signup forms and lead magnets

Encourage customers to share their email addresses with a clear signup form on your website.

To incentivize signups, offer valuable lead magnets such as a blog post, product sample, or gated resource.

For example, Justinmind provides a free wireframing tool in exchange for email addresses.

Image via Justinmind

2. Encourage incentivized referrals

Offer subscribers rewards such as discounts or exclusive content for successful referrals. 

Additionally, make it easy for them to refer friends. Include social media sharing buttons and an “Email to a Friend” link in every email.

3. Use social media

Use your social media presence to expand your email list. 

You can promote contests where users must enter their email addresses to participate. Alternatively, share email newsletter previews to entice followers to subscribe for more.

4. Host webinars and events

When hosting a webinar or event, you should ideally send at least three emails.

Announce the event first, send a reminder closer to the date, and follow up afterward for those who missed it. With each communication, encourage email collection by offering to provide event updates to subscribers. 

You can use a platform like Encharge to automate your webinar emails.

Craft engaging campaigns

Now, for the main part — creating the email campaign itself.

This can be challenging, especially with so much competition and content saturation. To stand out, focus on what makes an email successful: engaging copy, appealing design, and enticing incentives. Here are some best practices:

Google’s email checks off all these boxes perfectly:

Image via ReallyGoodEmails

Track your email campaigns

Monitoring your email performance is crucial. Without tracking results, it’s like throwing darts blindfolded.

A fashion retailer might track sales generated from their promotional emails, a vital KPI for boosting sales. If sales fall below expectations, they could adjust their email content, design, or target audience.

Now, measuring intangible goals such as brand awareness can be challenging. However, you can still track open and click-through metrics to gauge subscriber engagement. 

Advanced strategies to boost small business email marketing

The above steps are great for reaching a small group of subscribers. But you’ll need more if you want to scale up and make a more significant impact. 

Here are some strategies to take your small business email marketing to the next level.

Choose your email marketing solution

Crafting standout email campaigns isn’t exactly easy. You need to consider design, coding, deliverability, and more.

That’s where an email marketing platform comes in handy — it does a lot of the heavy lifting for you.

Most email marketing platforms provide pre-designed templates to create engaging emails quickly. They also offer list-building capabilities and powerful integrations. Plus, their automation features can significantly streamline your daily operations.

Incorporate customer segmentation

The phrase “one-size-fits-all” is rarely used in marketing because customers are so diverse. Not every customer will connect with the same email content. 

To tackle this issue, try list segmentation. This involves dividing your email subscribers into smaller, more targeted groups.

Here are several ways to do this, along with examples:

  • Behavioral: Send personalized offers to customers who frequently purchase eco-friendly products.
  • Demographic: Promote a new skincare line to female subscribers aged 25-35.
  • Geographic: Offer a special discount to customers living in New York City.

Launch automated campaigns

Automation is key for reaching your audience with the right message at the right time. For instance, you can send welcome emails to new sign-ups or recover abandoned carts to boost sales in ecommerce.

Now, there are several types of automations. Drip campaigns, for example, deliver a sequence of emails on a schedule. 

On the other hand, nurture campaigns trigger emails based on user actions. These typically pave the way for a more personalized experience.

Like this one by Project Watches, abandoned cart emails are a great example of effective nurture campaigns.

Image via ReallyGoodEmails

Deciding between a drip vs nurture campaign depends on your goals. Remember that they are not interchangeable. In fact, balancing both types effectively will strengthen your email marketing strategy.

Conduct A/B testing

When it comes to email performance, relying on hope isn’t enough — you need certainty. A/B testing eliminates guesswork by testing variations of email elements such as subject lines, images, and layouts. 

Small businesses can leverage data-driven insights from A/B testing. This will enhance effectiveness over time, thus boosting your email ROI.

Ensure responsiveness across devices

Finally, make sure every customer enjoys a seamless experience, regardless of their device.

Here are some ways to achieve this:

  • Employ responsive design to ensure emails display well on any screen size
  • Craft short and impactful subject lines
  • Position key information and calls to action prominently at the top of the email

The goal is to appeal to those browsing on mobile devices or tablets as well. Otherwise, you risk losing valuable customers due to a poor user experience.

Top email marketing platforms for small businesses

Here are some of the best email marketing platforms worth exploring. Many offer affordable plans for small businesses, and some even provide free versions.

1. Encharge

Encharge is a cloud-based marketing automation tool. It is designed to help businesses create and manage customized, automated campaigns. With its drag-and-drop interface, designing and customizing campaigns becomes a breeze.

Encharge offers advanced capabilities and is focused on SaaS businesses. However, if you are a small business that needs robust features such as segmentation, advanced automation flows, and deep CRM integrations, Encharge will be a good fit for you, regardless of your niche.

That being said, Encharge is best recommended for advanced users. If you are just starting with email marketing, one of the other tools on this list might serve you better.

Key features:

  • User segmentation based on various criteria
  • Automation capabilities including drip and re-engagement campaigns
  • Native forms to convert website traffic into leads
  • Ability to perform A/B tests on your Broadcasts and Flows
  • Dynamic content and merge tags for personalization

Pricing: Starts at $99/month, with a 14-day free trial available.

2. Moosend

Moosend is one of the most affordable and versatile email marketing tools. It is known for its user-friendly design and comprehensive features. Compared to traditional competitors, Moosend is a lot more budget-friendly.

It offers everything you need for email marketing. This includes a drag-and-drop editor, landing pages, automation workflows, and more.

Key features:

  • Lots of templates for building emails and landing pages
  • 18 pre-built automation templates
  • Chat and email support for all plans
  • 98% sender reputation and high deliverability rates
  • Email builder with editing history and roll-back options

Pricing: Starts at $9/month, with a 30-day free trial available.

3. Mailchimp

Mailchimp has been a key player in email marketing since 2001. It is widely touted for its wide array of features and integrations. 

It may not be the easiest platform for beginners to navigate. Despite this, Mailchimp is a top choice for small businesses seeking an all-in-one marketing solution.

Key features:

  • Advanced email automation capabilities for drip campaigns and welcome series
  • Thorough analytics and reporting tools
  • AI-powered tools to simplify email marketing processes
  • Support for other channels like SMS, Facebook, Instagram, and Google Analytics
  • Quick and responsive email and chat support, with phone support for premium plans

Pricing: Starts at $13/month, and there’s also a free plan with limited features.

4. HubSpot

If you need more than just email marketing, Hubspot is a great solution. It provides customizable templates and advanced automation for crafting beautiful newsletters. 

HubSpot also includes CRM and lead-tracking tools, eliminating the need for separate solutions.

Key features:

  • A library of 80+ professionally designed templates
  • Easily segment email lists based on customer behavior and attributes
  • Leverage customer data stored in HubSpot CRM for targeted email campaigns
  • Monitor email deliverability and reputation with in-app recommendations
  • Seamless integrations with other HubSpot tools and third-party applications

Pricing: Starts at $20/month, with some free marketing tools available to everyone.

Learn more: Encharge + HubSpot. The Most Complete Two-way Sync Integration

5. Constant Contact

Constant Contact is our final recommendation for small business email marketing. It excels in user-friendliness, making it an excellent choice for beginners. 

It caters to small businesses with basic automation, signup forms, and detailed reporting. However, its advanced features and customization options are comparatively limited.

Key features:

  • Basic automation capabilities such as welcome and abandoned cart emails
  • Importing contacts is straightforward with intuitive mapping
  • Various support channels like phone, live chat, email, and help center
  • Integrates with over 300 apps including Canva for better visuals, and Salesforce and Eventbrite for targeted, data-driven campaigns
  • Mobile app available for monitoring campaign results on the go

Pricing: Starts at $12/month, with a 14-day free trial available.

Wrap up

Creating a successful email marketing strategy can be tough for small businesses, especially if it’s your first time diving in. Here are some practical takeaways:

  • Email remains a crucial tool for small businesses due to its targeted approach and high ROI.
  • Before crafting emails, define your goals and know your audience. This will help you create relevant content and track performance effectively.
  • It is important to choose the right email marketing platform. Evaluate your needs and budget carefully to make the best choice.
  • Strategies like segmentation, automation, and personalization are essential for success — don’t overlook them.

Refine your email marketing strategy to improve ROI and overall effectiveness over time.

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Use Cases
Marketing automation
Create user journeys that convert, onboard, and retain customers.
Lead nurturing
Nurture email leads into trial users and customers.
User onboarding
Boost product activation and guide your users to value faster
Trial conversion
Smart marketing automation and behavior-based emails to double your trial conversion.
Success Stories
Landbot automates the onboarding for 80,000+ users while saving 320 hours/month
Confect transitioned to Product-Led Growth and increased user engagement by 28%
Samdock reduced the cost and time spent on acquiring a new customer by 77% with Encharge
Flow builder
Create remarkable user journeys with a robust and easy to use visual flow builder.
Send targeted one-off newsletters to your audience or a segment of people.
Behavior emails
Send targeted emails when people do or don’t do something in your app.
Event management
Track, create, and edit the actions that happen in your product
User segments
Create user segments with the market’s leading segmentation for SaaS.
User profiles
See the people behind the actions and access the full view of your customer data.
Email personalization
Get your users to act with highly-personalized emails.
Email editor
Design beautiful mobile-ready emails without any HTML skills.
A/B tests
Drive email engagement with A/B tests for your Broadcasts and your Flows.
Lead scoring
Identify interested users and best-fit customers and proactively reach out to them.
Website tracking
Track page visits and form submissions on your website in real-time.
Build and implement native forms on your website with just a few clicks.
Free email verification
Free email verification for all your contacts in Encharge, on all plans.
Transactional emails
Send emails like password reset, payment receipt, single sign-on link from your app.
Company profiles
Nurture, onboard, and convert whole teams with account-based marketing
Custom objects
Store and customize all your data the way you use it right inside of Encharge
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