How to Win Customers with Small Business E-mail Marketing

The task of marketing isn’t easy, is it? It seems to go on forever, and in reality, it does. Like in making your small business e-mail marketing work more effectively. And getting potential customers to think about you and what you have to say.

small business e-mail marketing
Small business e-mail marketing.

The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.

– Edwin Schlosberg


Because email is 40 times more effective than social media in customer acquisition, it can’t be ignored. And that is not going to change anytime soon. Email is a technology that has been with us for over 40 years. The first email was sent in 1971, but the concept was explored at MIT as early as 1965 which is 50 years ago. Here are some other email facts in another excerpt from an infographic at


To do that, you need your subscribers not just to tolerate your emails but to get excited about the next email you send them. But your work doesn’t stop there either. You need to cultivate a relationship with your subscribers if you want them to ever buy from you.


Related: Target Market … How to Target for Best Marketing Campaigns


The average email open rate depends on the industry, but typically it ranges from 15-25%. That’s a statistic that always surprises me. It is not terrible, but it certainly isn’t that high, is it?


Here are some tips to ponder as you try and make a significant improvement to these numbers:

E-mail marketing solutions.
E-mail marketing solutions.

Small business e-mail marketing … value opinions

Do you value the opinions of your customers? I hope you answered yes. Now, I believe most people answer yes to that question, which is great. So why is it that most email lists feel like transmit and receive conversations?


So, what’s the solution? It is simple: get your readers involved.


Move to real-time marketing 

The promise of real-time marketing is to meet the needs of consumers with the right message … in the right place … at the right time.


There are several challenges to delivering on the promise of real-time marketing, including the personalization of messages, measuring the effectiveness of the marketing efforts, leveraging the data available and the coordination of communications. Be sure and keep all of these in mind.


 Automate and integrate

 Deploying multiple campaigns every month can be taxing for any marketing team and can consume a lot of time and effort. Automating certain processes will leave you more time for developing strategy, identifying opportunities and understanding your email ROI.


Integration is the flip side of automation. By integrating processes around email, your entire marketing program becomes more agile and responsive to market opportunities.


Email marketing evolution

Email continues to be a highly effective digital channel to engage consumers. But the consumer is changing the way they read and react to email, so marketers must respond accordingly.


Consumers take email with them as they move from their desktop to their mobile and laptop or tablet devices. While consumers may be able to open and view email on all devices, they aren’t always taking action – which presents a different challenge.


Still, every customer interaction is a moment of opportunity for marketers to better understand the value created by the engagement and the experience the customer has.


Compelling subject line

Once you’ve laid the groundwork, it’s time to start working on crafting future emails that your subscribers can’t help but open.


It always starts with writing a great subject line.


The subject line should be written a lot like the headline of a blog post although you have a little more freedom with it.


Focus on the benefit

With this strategy, you focus on the result your reader wants most. Answer their question:  “What’s in it for me?”


Composing a good email subject line is akin to writing a great headline. If you’re cold-emailing someone you’ve never met, it’s important to strike a balance between being direct and being interesting.


Keep in mind that while it’s always good to be clear, you also don’t want to give anyone a reason to dismiss your email before reading it. For that reason, you’ll want to avoid stock or cookie-cutter phrases that might get your email lumped in (and glossed over) with others.


 Establish your credibility

“Why should I care?” is the tacit question hovering in most people’s minds every time they see an email from someone they don’t know well. This is why establishing your credibility is crucial. Tell your reader why you are different, why you are accomplished, and why they should pay attention to you.


 All about value

Think about why new subscribers might open that first email: it’s to get something. At this point, you’re not a friend. You’re not even an acquaintance.


But make sure you have something they want, whether it’s knowledge or a tool.


 Trust takes time

You have to earn trust by giving away value, time after time. Once a subscriber realizes that you’re not just trying to make a quick buck off them and that your work is making a difference in their lives, they will start to trust you.


Share interesting personal stories

One of the best ways for someone to get to know you and get a glimpse of your life is for you to share personal stories with them. You can do this in your blog posts, but email is another great time to do it. After all, when friends want to tell us a story, they don’t write us a blog post. They send us an email.


Be direct

Never assume that someone is going to read your entire email. You should make it clear from the get-go exactly what you are asking for. That means clarifying why you’re reaching out in the first sentence or two, and no later. Short and sweet is the topic strategy.


Coordinate email & social media

However powerful email and social media are in their right; there are still some shortcomings that each one suffers from. Email marketing is totally dependent on the number of users who choose to open the email and click through to the content. It’s also not an immediate response tool.


Social media, on the other hand, is unable to educate users about the wide variety of topics that can be handled in a single email. By its inherent nature, social media ends up scratching the surface of whichever topic it touches upon.


By syncing email and social media, your brand can make up for the shortcomings of each. Use social media for real-time interaction with your email customers, and deploy emails for in-depth analysis, insights, and conversations with social fans.


Re-engage inactive subscribers

Inactive customers typically account for about 60% of a business’ total subscriber base. But, unfortunately, there’s only so much you can do to encourage them to interact with your website or product — someone who’s stopped buying from you usually has reasons for this change in behavior that are impossible to fix via a one-way marketing campaign.


On the other hand, the two-way nature of email communication makes it the perfect, personalized medium for reaching out to inactive users.

Related post: 11 Steps to Media Framing Messages for Optimum Engagement


Through email, you can: 1) understand why they stopped buying from how (and how you can fix it);  2) offer them immediately and sustained incentives to revive their association with your brand (by way of special one-time discounts, coupons, or exclusive service options designed expressly for this purpose).


For example, Dell reaches out to its inactive subscribers to understand the reasons for their prolonged silence, so the folks over there can take corrective measures.


The bottom line


Email marketing is the most effective type of marketing there is by a wide margin. It’s not going away anytime soon.


When you’re attempting to apply these tips to your future emails, remember that they are guidelines, not rules.


If you read this checklist carefully (maybe even re-read it a few times if you like it), you’ll have a deeper understanding of these principles. At first, they will help a bit. But over time, as you gain experience, there’s no reason you can’t achieve consistent 50+% open rates and record profits.




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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+Twitter, and LinkedIn.  



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How to Win Customers with Small Business E-mail Marketing