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5 Email Marketing Tips for Small-Business Owners

Email marketing is still an effective way for small-business owners to drum up sales without spending too much money — even in the age of social media. Make your email marketing campaign successful by keeping your emails easy to read and mobile-friendly. Don’t forget to target specific groups with the news and services relevant to their needs. Of course, you’ll need to adhere to legal requirements for email marketing materials and you’ll need to run some tests beforehand to make sure your emails arrive in your readers’ inboxes looking the way you intended them to look.
Obey the Law
For starters, the “To,” “From,” and “Reply-To” fields and email routing information must be accurate and identify you as the sender. The subject line cannot be deceptive or misleading. You must identify the message as an ad and you must give your recipients the chance to opt out at any time. Furthermore, you must honor an opt-out request in 10 business days.The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 establishes requirements for business owners hoping to use email marketing — and if you break this law, you could wind up in trouble. Each email you send in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act can net you a fine of up to $16,000.
You can’t send email marketing materials to just anyone, either. You can only send marketing materials if you’ve collected them with the express purpose of sending marketing materials and if you have been clear about your intentions. If you’ve collected emails for any other reason — a contest, for example, or a blog subscription — you may not send marketing materials unless you made it clear to your recipients you’d be using their emails for marketing purposes when you collected them.
Target Specific Groups
Sending different marketing materials to different groups of recipients is a great way to target your audience with the goods and services that are most beneficial or relevant to their needs. Before you start your email marketing campaign, decide what types of marketing materials you’re going to send to members of each subcategory of your customer base, depending upon what they may want or need. When you collect email addresses for your campaign, you can ask your recipients to sort themselves into relevant subgroups as part of the subscription process.
Keep It Short and Sweet
Your marketing emails should be concise. Your audience doesn’t have much time to spend reading your emails — assume full plates all around. Break content into short paragraphs and use subheadings and images to make it easy for your readers to skim the content. If you’re using a longer article in an email marketing newsletter, include a “read more” link to invite your readers to come back at a later time.
Do a Test Run
Email marketing isn’t like publishing blog content — once you hit “send,” there’s no way you can bring it back for tweaks or corrections. Edit your email carefully and test it thoroughly. Open throwaway email accounts with various service providers so you can see how your email looks on Yahoo, Gmail, AOL, Hotmail and others. Tinker with the format until you find something that looks good and run A/B testing on your subject lines to find the line that will entice the most readers.
Make It Mobile-Friendly
Between March 2011 and March 2012, the number of emails opened on mobile devices exploded by 82.4 percent; by mid-2013, they outstripped desktop views, and they continue climbing. It’s clear that more people than ever are surfing the Web on mobile devices, so your email marketing campaign needs to be mobile-friendly. If your readers can’t easily access your email marketing materials from their phones or tablets, they’re just as likely not to read them. In fact, 63 percent of Americans have said that if they can’t easily open and read an email on their mobile device, they close the email and often delete it.
Email marketing can be a valuable tool to engage with your customer base, get more bodies through the door of your small business and boost sales. It’s important to run your email marketing campaign the right way — and that means following the law, giving your customers what they want and respecting their time.

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