(Read Time: 9 minutes)

If you own a small business, you already know that you need a good marketing strategy to grow.

However, there’s a good chance that you aren’t making the most of a platform that’s extremely affordable, very easy to use, and able to produce extraordinary ROI.

Of course, Google Adwords and Facebook ads can lead to huge results when used right – and huge losses when poorly planned … but just take a step back for a moment.

Lots of people use Google hundreds of times each week to search for things.

Lots of people rely on Facebook to stay in touch with friends every day.

However, there’s one thing that almost everyone with a computer or a smartphone has, and uses daily … and that’s an email account.

When you have someone’s email address, you have a direct line to them – and the power to inexpensively and quickly get your message in front of them.

Think about it for a minute, you email inbox is a personal area. You get to choose who you let in there and who you don’t.

So, if you can show your prospects and customers why they should let you in there, you have a direct line to them … something your competitors most probably don’t have!

For decades, people have been using email to make millions of dollars selling great products and services every single day – and they’re still doing it in 2017!

What this means for you is simple: if you, or your digital agency isn’t making the most of smart email marketing, you’re missing out on huge opportunities – and you may well get left behind.

What is Email Marketing?

Put most simply, email marketing is what happens when you use email to talk to prospects, or existing customers, as a platform to advertise your products or services.

Take a look at your inbox right now.

Do you notice the subject lines that catch your eye? The ones that make you want to read more?

Some of them are probably selling you something, whether you recognize it or not.

If a subject line gets you to read the message inside – and that message gets you to take further action, such as visiting a website, downloading a file, or making a purchase – that’s email marketing at work!

A very important note to consider here though is it’s not all about ‘advertising’ your products or services! If that’s all you do … well, you’ll find things don’t work out well for you.

You do actually need to offer something of value! Remember … everyone is always thinking, ‘what’s in it for me’.

So, all your communication must offer something of value.

Now, if you stay with us till the end, we’ll elaborate on that for you.

Why Do You Need It?

Simply put, almost everyone who might be buying from you has an email address that they check at least once a day. In fact, they often check it more than that:

  • 39% of people check 1 – 3 times per day
  • 16.6% of people check 4 – 6 times per day
  • 33.8% check their email continually throughout the day

These statistics are always changing, but the above stats clearly show how often people are in their email inbox. And … with the growing use of smartphones and email on smartphones, these number are only going to keep rising!

So, email is one of the most cost effective, efficient, and easy ways to reach a prospective customer – and one of the most measurable, too.

And … when used correctly, email gives you detailed data about who receives your messages, who opens them, and who actually clicks the links you include inside.

You can do your email marketing yourself if you have a good understanding of your audience and the right process to use.

Alternatively, you can work with a digital agency and leverage their expertise to do it for you.

Either way, you have the power to use this data to refine and improve your messaging. The result … you can grow your audience, build stronger relationships with them, and make them even more interested in what you have to offer.

In short … if you, or your agency, isn’t making email part of your marketing plan, then you’re almost definitely leaving money – and some huge opportunities – on the table!

What Can It Do for Your Business?

The short answer … almost anything!

No matter what your goals are, there’s almost always a way for email marketing to help your business grow.

Here’s three common ways that emails are used to reach out to both prospects and established customers:

1 – Lead Generation

A smart, savvy email campaign has the power to get readers to take action – and turn them into subscribers / followers, and in time … customers.

2 – Building Trust and Authority

A new prospect (or lead) isn’t always interested in buying right away. However, you can use your email campaign to build trust and authority, keep your business front of their minds, and get them to think of you when they finally realize that you have the solution they now need.

3 – Nurturing Your Database

You can use email to simply tell people on your mailing lists about new products or services. Be careful though – overly “sales-y” emails will rarely be received well by your audience.

Remember what we said, always be offering something of value! If you’re email marketing strategy is only selling, you’ll end up scaring prospects and customers away.

What Kind of Emails Should You Send?

Well … that depends on what kind of business you run!

Most business emails that get sent, typically boil down to one of four categories…

1 – Events

If you host events – sales, product demonstrations, seminars, webinars, or just about anything that will be happening on a specific time at a specific place – an email is a great way to let your prospects find out about it.

2 – Advertising Products and Services

Your customers need to know what you offer, and it’s unlikely that they’re just browsing your website every day, waiting to find out what you’ve got coming up next for them. When you introduce something, send an email and let your mailing list know all about it!

3 – Newsletters

Lots of businesses send newsletters once a month (or even once a week!) to share lots of different things that their readers might be interested in, ranging from engaging stories to advertisements. By keeping them brief and providing a mix of interesting content, you can hook readers – and get meaningful responses.

If you choose to run a newsletter, make sure that the design is appealing, matches your branding, and leads people to content that they’ll actually be excited to read!

A word of warning here though … it’s not a one size fits all approach and newsletters can be used badly. In fact, they are probably the single biggest area we see businesses making mistakes by email blasting the entire database with the same message.

What you need to do is have clear segments of customers in your database, and then send them information specifically relevant to them.

If you don’t have clear customer segments, then now is the time to work through the process!

4 – Promotions

If you have a special offer or event and pair it with an effective call to action, you can help your customers quickly learn about what you’ve got for them. Just be sure to keep a promotional email simple, and make it as easy as possible for your reader to take advantage of your deal!

Great digital marketers know the right email to send in every situation … and you’ll see it in your ROI!

How Do You Know If What Your Sending is Any Good?

There’s more to it than just firing up your mail client and sending something to everyone who’s ever given you an email address.

Here are some guidelines to consider:

Don’t Always Try to Sell

If you’re doing nothing but sending aggressive, sales-y emails about your new products or services, your readers aren’t likely to be too thrilled. Send some, of course … but use care and tact, and you’ll sell more without losing subscribers!

That brings us to the next point:

Content is Still Key

If you don’t have great content, your emails are likely to fall flat on their face. As with almost all marketing, the right structure, excellent copy, and the right call to action, will take the buyer on a journey that they’re excited to be a part of.

Additionally, nothing is more important to getting that content seen than writing incredible headlines. Keep them short, honest, direct, and catchy – and watch your open rate skyrocket!

Send Your Emails at the Right Time

Experts have done extensive research to figure out when readers are most likely to open emails. Generally, you’ll want to send your emails on weekdays, and typically mid-morning – around 10:30 A.M.

There’s a lot more to it than that, and a lot can change based on what exactly your business does – for example, if you’re advertising a lunch special, you’re most likely to get the best response if you send it 30 minutes before noon, when many of your prospects might be starting to get so hungry that a vivid description of a slice of piping hot pizza could make them salivate – but these are the basic rules to begin with.

Test, Evaluate, and Refine

When it comes to email, there are four big metrics to look at: opening rates, click through rates, conversion rates, and unsubscribe rates. You have the power to experiment with email campaigns to determine what gets the best responses from readers – as well as what you might need to improve in the future.

Don’t Spam

No one likes junk email, especially when so many people receive hundreds of emails every single day. Be sure to pay attention to both your countries spam laws, and also avoid using any subject lines that might get people thinking you’re sending spam – as those emails are virtually guaranteed to go unread.

Set Clear Goals

As with everything marketing, you need to set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time based … you know, SMART. As you dig into your email marketing campaign, you want to clearly know what you want your subscribers to do, why they should care, who you’re targeting, and what defines success.

Break up Your Mailing List Into Defined, Targeted Groups

You can’t be everything to everyone – nor should you be. The more you know about your audience, the more effectively you can run a tight, smart, targeted campaign designed to address their needs – and vastly improve its performance in the process.

This one needs repeating … SEGMENT your list and deliver specific content to their needs!

Have Effective Landing Pages

An email is just one step of the journey. From there, the reader needs to be able to find out more, and that’s where your landing page, which provides more information about the product or service, category listings, or a specific sales page comes in.

Assuming you have a digital agency, they should know all the necessary best practices and be able to walk you through all of this, answering any questions you might have along the way.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

1 – Emails your prospects can’t respond to

If your emails can’t be replied to, you’re missing out on customer interaction – and likely going to be unable to take them on the next step of the journey toward the sale. If your prospect has questions, make yourself available to answer them.

2 – Gigantic images that take hours to load

Great design is important, but don’t send your mailing list huge images or other attachments – slowing down load times is an easy way to get your message sent straight to the trash (or flagged by an antivirus detector).

3 – Typos and grammatical errors

When your prospect sees a typo, you’re forfeiting your credibility. Careless mistakes are business killers – and a simple spelling and grammar check could be the difference between a sale and an unsubscribe!

4 – Broken links

If your emails are full of broken links, they’re effectively useless – you’ve sent the customer to a dead end. Make sure that any links you send out are working BEFORE you hit the send button – not after!

Make sure you, or your agency, aren’t making rookie mistakes like these … If you are, you might as well be pouring your money down the drain!

In short…

Email marketing is powerful stuff, but it takes some learning to get the hang of.

Once you do get the hang of it, you can generate real, measurable results and ROI.

However, few people have mastered it overnight!

If you’re not using it, don’t just jump in head first, take your time to put together a strategy, map out your goals and implement gradually.

Once you understand the basics, and start to see some good results, you can start to think about how to automate the process … But we’ll save that for another time.

If you’d like to learn more, we’d love to talk with you about how we can help you run highly intelligent, well-designed email campaigns – and help you achieve the freedom and growth you’ve always wanted.

About Paul Hanney

Paul is the Founder and Chief Marketing Strategist at Phorge. With over 10 years experience in digital marketing and having generated over $27million in revenue. Paul's focus is on helping businesses grow and scale using sustainable and automated digital marketing strategies.
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