If you’re an entrepreneur, startup company, or small- or medium-size business (SMB) and you’re not creating automated emails, it’s time to consider these 10 vital email marketing tips for your small business.

Email Marketing Tip #1. Choose to do email marketing.

Like Simon Sinek, let’s start with the “why.” Why should you choose email marketing? Know that email marketing has one of the highest marketing ROIs (returns on investment). As mentioned in our earlier email quiz, only personal referrals and subject matter experts exceed the success rate of email marketing—particularly for generating leads.

Email Marketing Tip #2. Discover email marketing automation.

What email marketing automation is

It’s a way to send regular email messages to your customers or interested target market without lifting a finger. This can keep you top of mind, create new interest in your service, and even generate sales.
TowerData defines email automation this way:
“Email marketing automation is a robotic-sounding term for the strategy of making your messaging more personalized and timely….Email automation is simply converting the dispatch of email messages from a manual process to an automatic one.”

How email marketing automation works

You set it and forget it. You (or your marketing consultant) choose the software platform to use, write the copy, select the images, and create the necessary automation steps. This allows you to capture contact information, such as names and email addresses, offer coupons, send blogs, create special offers, and more—without having to use manual processes, outdated spreadsheets, or mail-merge tools.

Email Marketing Tip #3. Start building your database now.

You’ll want to create your compliant email marketing database immediately. As soon as you’re open for business, have a website, or start transactions with customers and prospects, you won’t want to miss a single client name or email address.
Marketers may refer to this database as your CRM database. CRM stands for customer relationship management. Don’t let marketers scare you off with their crazy language. It’s a database that holds all you need to know to market to and serve your prospects and customers.
Even if you don’t have the resources to set up a robust automation campaign—YET—you can still begin capturing emails in your email marketing software tool for free or at a relatively inexpensive cost.


Email Marketing Tip #4. Think ahead, strategically.

Your business is unique. What other information might you want to capture in data fields?
Consider ways that you may want to segment your customers in the future. What data will you need? Perhaps you might want to show customer appreciation by offering a birthday coupon. If so, you’ll need to start accurately capturing that data. Your company will look foolish if you send a birthday coupon in March for a July birthday.
If you’re unsure how you may use email marketing in the future, consult with a marketing strategist who will be able to see the bigger picture and make some recommendations for you.

Email Marketing Tip #5. Choose the best email marketing software for you.

As I wrote in Best Email Software for Small Business, the choices are plentiful.
You’ll need to choose the best one based on your needs, but you’ll want to ask the following questions:

  • Does it integrate with my website and estore?
  • How big will my email list get?
  • What am I willing to spend each month?
  • Does the email work well on a mobile phone?
  • Does the software have a good record of getting through SPAM filters?

A knowledgeable email marketing consultant can also help you find the right fit for your business.


Email Marketing Tip #6. There oughtta be a law…and there is. The CAN-SPAM Act.

Congress enacted a law in 2003 that is referred to as the CAN-SPAM Act. Its purpose is to control the amount of pornographic and MARKETING emails. (Marketers, don’t you just love that we’re lumped in the same category?)
Among other requirements, you must have an unsubscribe link to your email and comply within 10 days by removing the “unsubscribed” person from your list. Most email automation tools will take care of this for you.
Furthermore, emails must also have relevant subject lines, display your physical mailing address, and have an accurate FROM line. Best practice for your “FROM” line is your brand name or your personal name.
If your company is sending emails, it’s important to be aware of this Act. Your email software can also help you be compliant.

Email Marketing Tip #7. Don’t buy lists.

Not only are lists often ineffective, because people haven’t opted in. But you have no relationship or transaction with these people.
To be clear, the government allows you to send emails to existing customers or anyone who has inquired about your products or services. These emails are considered transactional or relationship based.
Best practice is to be sure people have opted into your list.

Email Marketing Tip #8. Open-rates matter.

Email service providers will view your email as spammy if your open rates are low. If you’re “spammy” you won’t make it into your subscribers’ in-box.
Therefore, you’ll want to make sure your emails are getting through the spam filters by doing the following:

  • Sending emails to those who want to hear from you. For example, I just received an email about my contact lens rebate. You can bet I opened it.
  • Writing enticing subject lines that readers want to open. OptinMonster offers these 101 email subject lines that readers can’t resist.
  • Qualifying your readers. Have subscribers opt-in by downloading a “lead magnet,” such as a useful resource that only your best prospects or customers would want. Don’t offer something everyone would want, such as a tablet, TV, debit card or cash.
  • Avoiding spammy words. These include words in your subject line, such as free, amazing, increase sales, no risk, winner, check or money order and more.
  • Not emailing inactive subscribers again and again. For example, you don’t want to send diaper coupons to parents whose children are in college. Instead find out what would entice your inactive people or simply remove them. (While you’re at it, you might as well remove anyone with your competitors’ URL in their email address.)

Another way to improve your open rates is to send your emails at a time when your subscribers will likely open and read them. I wrote about this in an earlier blog: When Is the Best Time to Send an Email.

Email Marketing Tip #9. Improve your open rates with segmentation.

Segmented lists get better open rates. You can segment by customer demographics, such as geography, birthday, job title, gender, age or other fields that may be relevant to your business.
You can also segment by email frequency preferences, such as those who want emails daily, weekly, or monthly. Products purchased, product interest, or shopping card abandonment are other ways to segment your list. Be sure to segment those who are new to your list by welcoming them.

Email Marketing Tip #10. Mind your metrics.

Marketing software allows you to know statistics, such as your open and click-through rates. Know what are considered typical email success rates for your industry.
In 2018, Mail Chimp reports that the average email open rate was 20.8%. Hobbies had a high of a 27.3% open rate and a daily coupons had a lowly rate of 14.9%. Similarly, click-through rates varied from a high of 4.78% for hobbies to a low of 1.74% for marketing and advertising.
Track your statistics. What are your averages and outliers? What campaigns were stunningly successful? Why? Which ones need tweaking? Was it your subject line? Your timing? Your segmentation?
Keeping track will help you improve.



Today’s email marketing is not for amateurs, and there’s a lot to consider when moving forward. However, the lead generation and rewards are well worth the efforts. If you don’t have a marketing person on staff, contact a knowledgeable email marketing consultant to help drive your business forward.
I’m always happy to help. Reach out to me, and we can grab a cup of coffee (or tea). Together, we’ll determine your next steps to grow your business with email marketing.

Contact Marketing Consultant Nancy Burgess

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