Small Business Nation. A Project of The U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Email Marketing

Email marketing isn’t about creating spam and clogging up your customers’ and potential customers’ inboxes with sales pushes. Instead, it’s a means for you to routinely have a conversation with your customers, contacts, subscribers or members. Done well, that conversation subtly nudges people toward doing business with you, either in your store or on your website. After all, nearly six in ten internet users say they are more apt to buy a product in a store after receiving a marketing email (eMarketer).

Your Subscriber List
Just like the Rolodex you have somewhere, your subscriber list is comprised of everyone you know. As soon as possible, you’ll need to begin the process of collecting legitimate, verifiable email addresses from clients or customers interested in your products and services.

One critical point: every person whose email address you collect should understand that you intend to communicate with them from time to time. An easy way to ensure they understand your intention is to have them check a box on whatever form they fill out—whether in the store or online.

Your Email System
Like most everything in the online marketing world, email campaigns can be handled in a one-step, “push button” manner with the help of an outside vendor.

Email specialists like Send Receive and Constant Contact allow you to hand off the nuances of your email marketing campaigns to experts, while still controlling the content and offers. These systems allow you to create and use referrals. It’s easy for readers to forward relevant content and newsletters to their friends and contacts and send professional-looking email messages and newsletters through the use of a template, which will save you time.

Whatever You Do, Do It With Enthusiasm
Nine out of ten of us check our email daily. Of course, “checking” email isn’t the same as “reading” it. Your emails are only going to be read if they’re interesting, useful, action-oriented, and timely.

Think of an email as a movie. A great movie gets your pulse up, makes you lean in to the screen, and, when it’s over, you want to take action. Unlike the special effects Hollywood has at its disposal, email marketers depend on the information they are sharing. Your content must provide value to the reader and give them a reason to act immediately. Keep in mind, giving them a reason to act and saying “act now” are two entirely different things. The deals we act on aren’t the ones we’re ordered to act on—they’re the ones we feel compelled to engage within the moment.

Let’s extend this metaphor to explore sequels—the next email in your campaign. Just as Hollywood sequels can overload us with repetition, so can email. It’s important to keep your emails timely and targeted—and avoid hitting ‘send,’ just to send.

List Mechanics
Verified, accurate email lists are gold to email marketers. Make sure your list is current and useable in a way that allows you to target people. Emails sent to dead addresses don’t do you any good; neither do emails sent to people who are unlikely to use your services. You’ll get more value out of maintaining a smaller, targeted, and accurate list, as opposed to a larger list with unknown variables.

Small Business Toolkits