This blog is part of a content series helping small businesses to get set up for digital marketing best practice.
You’ll find a guide for each of the major channels that are consistently used amongst each of my clients.
I will be releasing a guide per week.
One key area of focus is Email Marketing, and rightly so. If you’re selling online and you haven’t set up your Email Marketing appropriately then you’re not effectively remarketing to qualified and engaged customers or potential customers. In this guide I'll cover newsletters and automated emails. If you’re looking for direct cold email marketing, then I’ll save that for another piece.
So, let’s get started.
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Email Marketing is a channel that is used to engage, nurture and convert prospects and customers to re-engage with your brand / business.
Being an owned channel (one that you have the right to communicate with, without paying) it is a gold mine of opportunity. Given this, there are a few key unique features of email marketing that will always play into your advantage.
Key advantages of email marketing.
You don’t need to pay to email your audience. Unlike with a channel like digital advertising, your email list and the right to email them is yours to own. You’re not going to have diminished reach over time (hello, social). Yes, many email platforms will charge you to sort and hold your contacts - but there are ways to email for mostly free. Check out Sendy below.
You can write long form content. Think about the emails you get in your inbox. Some are short and to the point, others are long winded but full of juicy information (and discounts). Emails have a beautiful format of containing a subject line, preview line and body content, allowing you to deliver key messages and long form versions.
Your email is a canvas for your imagination. And it’s not just for text. You can include images, videos, GIFs, offers, stories, sound clips - you name it. Your email is a blank canvas for your creativity, ready to be filled.
You get epic data. I don’t know why I put this as #4, but here I am. Epic, epic data. You can see open rates, click percentages, unsubscribes, etc. at a macro and a micro level. Check out high level stats to see what’s working and dive into the person-by-person interactions to identify your VIPs (most platforms will help automate this for you).
Many email tools allow you to segment your data and audiences. Some email tools (and related data tools) will allow you to segment your audience based on key metrics that are important to you. For example, customers, repeat customers, customers who purchased a particular product, leads, hot prospects, the list goes on.
You can automate a bunch of it. Your emails do not need to be written again and again. Once you find something that works, you’ll be able to automate it so that the robots do the work for you. For example, let’s just say your most popular product has a lifespan of 1 month when it is in the hands of your customers. How about emailing them 3 weeks after purchase with a repurchase offer? Because, you know, they’re just about to run out!
And because of all of these benefits, you can use Email Marketing for a multitude of purposes, and so you should. It’s malleable, flexible and in total control by you.
Which brings me to a key consideration - what are you using Email Marketing for?
Delivery of Key Messages
Generating Sales or Leads
Nurturing Your Community
Sharing Exclusive Offers
Pushing Your Social Channels
Providing Value to Your Audience
By considering what you’re using your email marketing for you’ll be able to put together a coherent plan of what emails you should be sending, when and to who.
In your plan you should be thinking about the different types of emails and how you’ll be using them. Think about what you want to use email for (often all of the above) and how you can weave it through all the different types of emails you can send. Speaking of which …
What types of Email Marketing are there?
How should you use Email Marketing to promote your small business?
Newsletters - This is a regular email send that happens weekly, fortnightly or monthly or quarterly. It should be a regular update that contains regular, consistent content. Only send a newsletter as often as you have relevant, reliable and consistent content that relates to your objectives you identified above. Some common newsletter content topics are:
New Product / Service Releases
Special Offers / Discounts
New Blog Post Releases
Interviews with the Team
Helpful Information That is Related to Your Business Tip: Keep an eye on your open, click and unsubscribe rates. If they start to turn for the worse then you’re probably sending too many emails, or your audience isn’t finding them valuable.
eDMs - This is a one off blast that contains a specific message, for example a special offer. Use this periodically to make one-off announcements, special launches or to promote offers. These should be kept short and simple - they should speak about only one topic
Automated Marketing Emails - These are automated emails that have a marketing purpose. And let me tell you, this is where you’re going to find a tonne of impact. By automating your emails and sending them to (1) behaviour segments of your audience and (2) action based segments you’re going to see a world of difference. If you are able to effectively segment your audience and send the right comms at the right time then they will be more like to open, click on and take action from your emails. Sounds great, right? But how do you do that? Any good email marketing tool will help you to segment your audience and you can also use purpose made segmenting tools for this purpose (hint - check them out below). While I wish I could give you a silver platter of exactly what emails to send, I’m going to leave with you the statement that sending automated emails will likely save you time and make you money. Tip: Some tools, like Klaviyo, Retention Science and Metorik mentioned below, will provide you with templated automated flows to help you set these up. There is no one size fits all, but there is one size fits most. Start with the templates and then make them your own with their easy to use custom builders.
Automated Transactional Emails (not for marketing purposes, but can maybe sneak a little ‘marketing’ in there) - These are the emails which are sent for a transactional (required) purpose. For example the order, shipping delivery notifications for eCommerce stores or the Lead Received Emails for B2B websites. Tip: These will typically be pre-installed on your website with base standard copy. Jump in and add some flair to them to make them branded to encourage your customers and prospects feeling as though every piece of comms is tailored to them and from the community.
Tools to use for Email Marketing for Small Business
There are many different email marketing tools out there, and there is no one size fits all. Below are some of my favourite tools that can help you get the job done.
Email Send Platforms For building and sending your emails.
These platforms are there with the primary purpose of managing email sends. Each can handle most of the email types mentioned above and have all the standard email building tools that you will come to expect. They come with a variety of different primary focuses, which I’ve summarised below:
Retention Science - they automate all of your automated emails for you. As in, you never need to even set them up. Just drop in the content and their AI does the rest. Best for the small businesses that are moving to medium size. Running a big eCommerce store? Strongly consider ReSci.
Klaviyo - they are an email marketing tool that takes a strong focus on segmentation and integration with Shopify (meaning you get a bunch of epic purchase data). They also provide a bunch of templated flows that give you a great head start on automating your marketing emails. Running a SMB eCommerce store? Go Klaviyo.
Send In Blue - they specialise in keeping everything under one roof (all email types) to make things simple. They are email first, segmenting second. Want everything under one hood? Go Send In Blue.
MailChimp - this is the old dog of email, and they charge an arm and a leg for it. They make things super simple and are a tool that many people are accustomed to. They are building out their automation processes, and while they’re not as strong as the above - they do a good job. Want simplicity and don’t mind the cost, and not running an eCommerce store? Go MailChimp.
Sendy - this is the new breed of email. It’s built by setting up what is essentially your own server. This means that all you need to pay for is server space and a one time license for the product. Now don’t get me wrong, this thing is tough to set up if you don’t have tech skills. But that’s where Sendy Bay comes in - it’s the subscription software to make Sendy easy, and comes at a fraction of the cost of the other players. Get this if you know what you’re doing and want to send emails without being charged too much.
Segmenting Tools For building out high value audiences to market to.
Okay, so you want to understand your contacts better so that you can send them specific emails. Metorik is segmenting first, email second. Klaviyo is email first, segmenting second. If you’re looking for something that allows you to segment, send newsletters and automated emails - then Klaviyo is your bet. But if you’re looking for the most powerful segmenting tool there is that comes baked in with automated emails, then Metorik will be your new best friend.
Inspiration Tools For writing the best damn emails you can.
So by now you should have a pretty good idea of what everything is about with email. But, what on earth are you going to write? Jump onto Really Good Emails to be inspired by thousands of successful emails that are categorised by industry. RGE has essentially grabbed the best emails from the web and put them all in one place so you can learn from the best.
Bonus - Spam Checker and Spam Fixer. To check that your emails aren’t heading to SPAM and what to do if they are.
Emails aren’t getting opened? Maybe you’ve made it to the dreaded spam or promotions folders. Use unspam.email to find out where you stand and a tool such as Lemwarm to fix up your domain.
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About the author, Josh Berg
I’ve worked with over 200 small businesses, spending thousands of hours analysing their performance to advise on digital marketing best practice.
Over the hours there have been several key recommendations that have been consistent for almost all of my clients. This guide is the product of this time and focuses on providing you with an actionable list of tactics to get your digital marketing basics set up.
Want help with this guide? Tap me on the shoulder.
I’m available for consultation to help you work through this guide, ensuring that you’re implementing with best practice advice and are set up for success.