McClatchy Apr 6, 2023 2:15:00 PM

Email Marketing for Small Businesses 101


It's no secret that email marketing is an exceptionally valuable form of advertising in today's business world. One study indicates that email marketing generates a return of $45 for every $1 spent!  

Some may wonder: Is email marketing only an option for large, enterprise-level organizations? The answer is a resounding No! Most small businesses can also launch this strategy and experience its benefits without much hassle incorporating it into their process. 

With that in mind, the following information will discuss some email marketing basics and provide insight into how to start email marketing as a small business. 

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Email Marketing's Benefit to Small Businesses 

How exactly can email marketing contribute to a small business's growth? It can do so in several ways, such as: 

  • Nurturing leads. Sending periodic messages to interested prospects can keep your brand top of mind, thus making it more likely that they'll do business with you in the future. 
  • Providing information. When your emails offer actual value to recipients (perhaps by letting them know about upcoming sales or offering helpful industry-specific reminders), they'll fully trust your company. 
  • Keeping in contact. Email is also an efficient and cost-effective way to stay in contact with current customers. For example, many companies use emails to recommend related products and accessories for customers who have already purchased from you. 

Understanding Your Email List 

Effective email marketing starts and ends with your email list or list of contacts. This list is like the "backbone" of your email marketing strategy, providing structure and support to the rest of your efforts.  

You can use this list to help you conduct lead generation and attract loyal customers to your brand. However, the list cannot be taken as a singular entity and requires segmented organization, designating customers into specific sub-groups to send them the most relevant information. According to one survey, 78% of marketers consider subscriber segmentation to be a highly effective email marketing strategy. 

What would this look like in practice? One scenario would be segmenting your contact list into three categories: 

  • New customers 
  • Leads 
  • Loyal customers 

Such segmentation would be helpful in terms of knowing which email to send a specific contact. For example, if the contact is a new customer, you may send a welcome email describing some features of their subscription. If they are a lead, the email may include some key benefits of doing business with your brand. You may want to provide a discount code for loyal contacts or established customers to express your appreciation for their business. 

How to Choose a Platform 

There are many email marketing platforms out there that offer a range of features for small businesses. Some of the more popular platforms include Mailchimp, Zoho Campaigns, HubSpot, and Constant Contact, as well as McClatchy’s Self-Service Ad Manager..  

When considering which platform to use, it's important to identify one that will match your business's specific needs and budget. For example, some platforms offer free software versions without a paid subscription's helpful features. These may be beneficial when launching but can only support a small number of emails and includes their branding. It offers an excellent resource when reaching your current customers with new offers and maintaining communication with them when they aren’t ready to purchase anything else. 

However, email marketing is a versatile strategy that’s highly effective across multiple segments, with value that can help you earn and nurture leads or new customers. You can create a targeted set of emails to reach this group, by sending informative emails to emphasize your value or setting up a welcome campaign. 

Creating Your Email Content 

Email marketing must be tailored to each customer, to the extent possible, to provide personalization and value. Developing email content that informs, educates, and resonates with your target audience is vital.  

Remember that using indirect selling methods in your emails is often best. Focus on providing high-quality information and establishing a clear brand position to enhance credibility. The objective is to help consumers develop trust in your brand. You can count on receiving at least some of their business if they do. 

Considering your customer’s buying phase is also crucial, which touches on the segmentation mentioned above. Your email content will differ for existing customers, compared to new customers or leads you want to nurture. 

Measuring Results and Optimizing 

A final important aspect of email marketing is measurement and optimization. You must have a system to track each email campaign's performance and identify any "bottlenecks" that could hinder effectiveness. Metrics like open rate, click-through rate (CTR), and time spent on your campaign's landing page can be invaluable data sources. 

After measuring and analyzing results, make adjustments as needed. You may have to experiment a little. For instance, consider A/B testing future email campaigns by sending out two similar emails with just one key difference between them, and see which one performs better.  

Continually measuring and optimizing your email marketing strategy will ensure that you maintain a high-quality process and match your content with customer wants and needs. 

Leverage Email Marketing for Sustainable Growth 

Email marketing can be a powerful tool for any small business's growth. By understanding and segmenting your contact list, choosing the right platform, developing valuable content, and continuing to measure and optimize your campaigns, you're setting up your company for email marketing success. 

Moreover, working with an experienced, reputable media partner like McClatchy can take your efforts to an entirely different level. They have methods to assist businesses, as well as tools that enable business owners to manage their marketing themselves. McClatchy’s self-service ad platform includes tools to launch a targeted email campaign entirely on their own, along with many other tools to help grow your business.   

Reach out to us today to learn more about how we can develop and maintain a winning email marketing strategy for your business. 

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