Email Marketing Basics for SMBs

Does email marketing work? Statistics say yes, it most certainly does! Email is such an effective marketing channel for SMBs in fact, that it consistently ranks as one of the top 3 ways to drive customers to your website, generate leads, and close sales. So, if you have yet to take advantage of this lucrative promotional strategy, it’s time to look at some email marketing basics.

Why Email Marketing?

Email marketing continues to be one of the top performing tactics for engaging with your audience through content. Consider these stats from digital marketing expert, Neil Patel:

  • Content marketing costs 62% less, and generates 3x as many leads, as outbound tactics like paid search
  • Conversion rates are nearly 6x higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters

And as one of the most widely used channels for distributing content, email marketing has been shown to yield an ROI of $44 for every $1 spent.

Step-by-Step Email Strategy

A successful email marketing strategy hinges on a solid mailing list. By creating that list from people who choose to subscribe to your emails, you’ll increase the number of emails that get opened, read, and ultimately acted on. Here are the basic steps for growing and servicing a quality contact list.

1.     Make it Easy to Opt-In

Entice visitors to sign up for your emails by creating a website opt-in form that:

  • asks only for names and email addresses,
  • uses an actionable title (“Subscribe to Hear About Our Sales!”), and
  • makes it clear what subscribers will receive, and when (if it’s a daily newsletter, say so)

2.      Welcome New Subscribers

On average, welcome emails earn 320% more revenue than other promotional emails – so make the most of them! A friendly note confirming the recipient’s subscription and delivering on any offers or downloads you promised is a great place to start.

3.      Get Creative with Subject Lines

An intriguing subject line stands the best chance of getting recipients to open your follow-up emails. Use action-oriented words that inspire a sense of urgency (discover, try, save) but aim for 130 characters or less, and steer clear of numbers, symbols, and ALL-CAPS.

4.      Provide Valuable Content

The best email content, according to HubSpot, is “human, helpful, and holistic.” Yours should contain a clear call-to-action (CTA) message and link, but should also be well-written and engaging. Fancy graphics and images are unnecessary, since plain-text emails get higher open rates.

5.      Keep Your List Clean

Once you’ve got a decent-sized mailing list established, cleaning or scrubbing it from time to time will keep open rates up and bounce rates down. Weeding out recipients who aren’t engaging with your emails will allow you to better focus on the people who are.

Analyze Your Marketing Results

After all that, if you’re not monitoring your content by analyzing what your email contacts are most interested in, you’re throwing away good marketing money. Here are the email marketing performance metrics you need to know:

  • Open Rate: The percentage of email recipients who opened your message. Low rates can result from ineffective subject lines or delivery times, or high bounce rates.
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): The percentage of recipients who clicked on a link in your email. This provides a good indication of engagement.
  • Conversion Rate: The percentage of recipients who both clicked on a link in your email and took the desired action. High CTRs, coupled with low conversions, can result from ineffective CTA messaging or placement.
  • Unsubscribe Rate: The percentage of recipients who unsubscribed from your emails. It’s important to note that “receiving too many emails” is the most common reason given for unsubscribing.
  • Bounce Rate: The percentage of emails that were sent, but not delivered. Hard bounces happen when an email address is closed, invalid, or otherwise doesn’t exist.

Like every other marketing strategy, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to creating effective emails. But in the words of Neil Patel, “It’s not that hard to get in the inbox. Scrub your list, don’t put too many links – and only send to people who really want them.”