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Grow Your Business Sales & Marketing

Small Business Guide to Sending Marketing Emails

Small Business Guide to Sending Marketing Emails
Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Unless you're one of those apathetic people who allows unread emails to collect up to the thousands in your inbox, you probably spent a good chunk of your morning deleting automated emails without reading them. But surely there was at least one that caught your eye, made you pause and skim through it, or maybe even made you click the link.

It is more difficult than ever to cut through consumers' discerning filters. Living as we are in a digitized world, advertisements and promotions are everywhere we look, in everything we read, and on everyone's minds. Some predictions estimate that there will be 2.9 billion worldwide email users by the end of the year. Statista estimates that by 2021, 320 billion emails will be sent daily. That's a lot to sort through.

But fear not, marketers. There are still plenty of ways to create marketing emails that actually get read. Business News Daily spoke to marketing experts to find out exactly how to get your messages across. Basically, you'll need to follow these steps:

  1. Get permission.
  2. Understand your audience.
  3. Be genuine and authentic.
  4. Provide valuable content.
  5. Monitor your success.

Editor's note: Looking for email marketing software for your business? Fill out the questionnaire below to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

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This step is vital. As Nathan Hangen put it in this article, getting into someone's inbox is like being invited into their home, and it should be treated accordingly. Consumers must opt in to receive your emails, or you risk your emails being labeled as spam (and never read) or even hefty fines under the CAN-SPAM act.

Because this step is largely about convincing the consumer that your emails are worth subscribing to, spend some time honing your language and graphics for the permission request.

"Consumers respond best to personal, targeted [language], with a clear call to action and beautiful imagery," said Kristien Matelski, digital marketing specialist at Vizion Interactive.

The permission request doesn't have to be dry and boring – this is the place to let your copywriters run free. Think personality, cleverness, and short, punchy copy – but don't overdo it.

"The No. 1 thing businesses do wrong is overselling," said Matelski. Explain why the consumer should want to read your emails, and outline what you'll be sending them so there won't be any surprises. [Interested in finding email marketing software for your business? Check out our reviews and best picks on our sister site, Business.com.]

Knowing who you're emailing and why is almost as necessary as getting permission, since it will determine your content, how often you send blasts and to whom you send which emails.

Your email campaigns will depend on your business and what it offers. Jakub Kliszczak, a marketing specialist at CrazyCall, said that his customers look mainly for informational updates. "We send marketing emails whenever there is an important thing happening with our software. We give an in-depth explanation [but] put no effort into trying to push recipients into signing up for a trial. Yet we always get a handful of people who decide to check out the software."

Pay attention to buying trends, demographics and customer feedback if you have access to it. If you lack customer feedback, consider sending out a survey to gather information on what your customers want to see from you in the emails and basing your content on those responses.

Many companies fall into the pit of marketing for the sake of marketing, rather than putting effort into a campaign that means something for the company. If you're jumping into email marketing just to keep up with the Joneses, your consumers are going to feel that and unsubscribe. 

Authentic marketing is more important than ever, so you should sit down and understand your vision and what you want the email campaign to accomplish.

"Marketing emails [should] always be useful," said Ruggero Loda, founder and publisher of Running Shoes Guru. "Each email should have a goal for the sender and provide value to the reader."

Perhaps this goes without saying, but it's hard enough getting people to sign up for your emails; it's even harder to get them to stay. As the saying goes, content is king, and it should not be overlooked. Make sure what you're sending is personalized, engaging, and relevant to both your readers and your company.

"The more you can make the receiver feel wanted and like you actually know/care about them, the better response rates you'll achieve," said Matthew Tudge, digital marketing specialist at WDA Automotive Marketing.

Try to put yourself in the reader's shoes and only send emails you would want to read. Remember to keep it simple. Allie Danziger, president of Integrate Agency, recalled a client that overloaded their emails with images and blocks of information, tucking their call to action below the fold. Her team simplified the template and defined the client's goal, which led to a 71 percent increase in open rates.

"This proved why simple is better," Danziger said, "and why laying out goals at the forefront can dramatically impact effectiveness."

Many email marketing services come with analytics capabilities or integrate with third-party providers like Google Analytics. The three most important analytics for email marketing are open rate, click-through rate and unsubscribes.

Your open rate shows how many people open your email and will tell you how engaged your readers are. If the rate is low, you'll need to identify where your emails are missing value for your readers and work on developing a stronger personal relationship with them.

The click-through rate (CTR) shows how many people clicked on any links included in your email. A low CTR will reflect poor or mistargeted copy or links your readers are not interested in, so you should focus on improving your copy, seeing what types of links your readers do click on, and modeling your emails accordingly.

The unsubscribe rate is just that – how many people are clicking "unsubscribe" at the bottom of your emails. Check your unsubscribe rate in relation to your opt-in rate. If the unsubscribe rate is high, you need to do some serious digging to find out where you're dropping the ball between getting permission and this point, because this shows that people are engaged enough to opt in but getting lost in the middle.

Getting a marketing email to the consumer is not easy, but if you remember your goals, keep it simple, and watch your analytics, you'll be well on your way to launching nothing but successful campaigns.

Kiely Kuligowski

Kiely is a staff writer based in New York City. She worked as a marketing copywriter after graduating with her bachelor’s in English from Miami University (OH) and is now embracing her hipster side as a new resident of Brooklyn. You can reach her on Twitter or by email.