One of the biggest challenges that small business owners have to face when starting a marketing strategy is finding the tools to reach the highest number of customers at the lowest possible cost. In the age of digital marketing, social media has emerged as one of the best solutions for small businesses, but that doesn’t mean that email is dead.
On the contrary, email campaigns can empower small businesses by boosting exposure and customer engagement. Here’s what the numbers say:
- 73% of Millennials consumers would rather receive brand messages via email (Adestra).
- 99% of people check their emails every day (DMA Insights).
- Almost half of marketers say that newsletters are a key component in their content marketing strategy (CMI).
- For every dollar spent on email marketing, you can get a return of $32. (Oberlo).
This all sounds great, but, if you want to harness the full power of email campaigns for your small business, you have to align your strategy to the latest practices and keep up with the increasing customer expectations.
The average person receives 246 e-mails every day and most of these are from work and from brands. He modern inbox is like a crowded arena where dozens of brands are fighting for the recipient’s attention. If you know how to capture this attention in a positive way, then your small business has just won another customer. If not, your e-mail will be ignored, or worse, sent straight to the spam folder.
So, how can you make sure you create win-back email campaigns? These 7 techniques are great starting points:
- 1. Master the art of the email sign-up form
- How can you create a sign-up form that converts? Use these tricks:
- 2. Create brilliant subject lines and message previews
- 3. Offer targeted, valuable content
- 4. Be personal
- 5. Experiment with interactive e-mails
- Interactive polls and surveys
- Include “scratch cards” in emails
- Use interactive images
- 6. Optimize your email campaign for mobile
- 7. Write compelling CTAs
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1. Master the art of the email sign-up form
Before you can start sending emails to your prospective customers, you need to get them to subscribe to your newsletter in the first place.
When you’ve just opened your small business, the task of starting a mailing list from nothing can sound very scary, but it all starts with a simple, compelling sign-up form on your website.
How can you create a sign-up form that converts? Use these tricks:
- Keep it simple. A sign-up form is no place for elaborate sentences and extensive details about your company. Stick with one simple call to action, and keep the number of required fields to a minimum. In most cases, the name and the email are enough. According to an Unbounce study, simple sign-up forms can lead to a 120% increase in conversions.
- Get rid of clutter. In the sign-up form, there should be only one major visual element: the call-to-action. All other elements, such as ads, unnecessary text, videos, or crowded backgrounds, should be removed.
- Make it quick. Signing up for a newsletter shouldn’t take more than a minute. People’s time is limited, so make it count. To speed things up even more, allow them to sign up using their social media accounts.
- Give them an incentive to sign up. The average Internet user is assaulted by invitations to sign-up from brands. What makes yours different? Give people an incentive to sign up, such as a welcome discount or an exclusive offer. Even if you don’t have a physical product to sell, you can still give them access to an e-book or insightful articles about the industry.
- Use an eye-catchy template. Visuals play an important role in how visitors perceive your website. If the sign-up form has an unattractive design or looks like it was made on a budget, they might leave and not interact with your site again.
- Place the registration box strategically. To maximize the number of people who sign up for your mailing list, you should place it above the fold or somewhere in the top right sidebar.
2. Create brilliant subject lines and message previews
The first thing that the recipient sees after receiving your email is the subject line. First impressions matter, so make sure you use the right strategies to draw their attention. A perfect title should be short, specific, and convincing. Imagine that the recipient will see a dozen of unread emails, so your needs to have a certain wow factor.
An email that starts with (no subject) will be deleted almost immediately. Similarly, a subject line that sounds vague will be left unopened. Just like in the case of the sign-up form we discussed earlier, the user needs to have a clear reason to interact with you.
If you have a sale going on, make it clear from the subject line. You only have a few characters at your disposal, so use visual tricks to help you:
- Use caps: strong messages like FREE SHIPPING, 50% OFF, or DISCOUNT CODE INSIDE are more effective when written in caps.
- Include emojis in the subject line. This makes your message more expressive, it appeals to the younger audience, and, according to a report, 50% of businesses that use emojis in the subject line have a higher unique open rate.
Tip: Don’t resort to clickbait titles or promise recipients something you don’t offer. This spammy practice is too overused to be taken seriously and it will affect your reputation.
Once you’ve created a catchy title, don’t stop there. Take advantage of the message preview field too!
Many marketers leave this field blank, which means that the recipient will see something generic, such as the first line of the email, a line of code, an image source, or a duplicate of the email subject. That’s not very compelling, is it?
Instead of keeping the default version, use the 100 characters in the message preview to expand your message and give more information about the offer.
3. Offer targeted, valuable content
If the email subject line and message preview are great, they will achieve their purpose: the recipient will open the email.
What happens next? The user needs to have a reason to keep on reading. If your email goes on and on without delivering any important information or without offering something irresistible, such as a promotion or a discount, the user will delete it in a flash.
No matter if you are sending a monthly newsletter or you’re announcing the start of the sales season, the email copy needs to be insightful, convincing, and easy to follow. After reading it, the recipient shouldn’t feel like you wasted their time. They need to get some sort of value from that e-mail. That value can be monetary (a discount code), or it can be informative (industry insights, reports, etc.).
You can segment your readers into several categories so that it’s easier to create targeted content for each one. You can use these factors:
- Basic demographics (age, sex, location, occupation)
- Purchasing behavior
- New vs. returning customers
- Email engagement rates
Another important rule when drafting the content for your email campaigns is to keep it short.
People don’t have a lot of time to scroll, so send your message in 150 words or less. If you need more than that, include just a preview and link to the full article.
Don’t forget that the way you write and format your emails says a lot about your brand. Even if you want to brand yourself as friendly and informal, you still need to respect the basic rules of good writing. Every email should be thoroughly checked for spelling and grammar mistakes and the layout should be reader-friendly too.
All information should be divided into short paragraphs, keeping just the essential information. Avoid including content for content’s sake, because too much information will make the recipient delete your email.
Mastering the art of great email copy takes time, but you can get better at it even if you’re not a professional writer. Use tools like Grammarly, Honey Copy, Hemingway App, and WebFX to comb through your content and spot any technical errors that could bring down your brand. A spelling mistake or the wrong use of a modal verb may go unnoticed in spoken English, but customers hold brands to a high standard. Being sloppy and forgetting to proofread your copy will make you look like an amateur and lose your clients’ trust.
4. Be personal
As a small business owner, you might think of the size of your business as a disadvantage. However, not being a huge enterprise can turn out to be an advantage.
According to a recent survey, 84% of American consumers are more likely to trust small, local businesses and one of the reasons why this happens is because small businesses offer personalized, friendly service.
Use emails as a way of spreading this personalized approach.
Recipients know that the marketing department didn’t type each email personally, but they do appreciate attention to detail and taking the time to adapt your copy to their profile.
Here’s how you can give your email campaigns a personal touch:
- Use the client’s name in the subject line and in the email opening
- Analyze your demographics and, if your clients are on different time zones, don’t send all the emails at the same time. Scheduling for a newsletter to be sent at 7 pm is great if you have American clients, but European clients will receive it in the middle of the night, and this will affect the open rates.
- Use trigger emails. Trigger emails are e-mails that the user gets automatically after doing a certain action on your website. For example, after creating an account, they receive a welcome email. After placing an order, they receive a thank you email. Software companies such as Dropbox are a great example you can follow because they send re-engagement emails if a user signs up for the service, but doesn’t install the software.
- Send personalized suggestions based on their purchase or browsing history. For example, if you have an online store and a client added several items of the same type in their wish list, you can send them an email notification to remind them about them or offer them an extra discount code if they place an order now. If you have a blog, you can send article suggestions based on their reading history.
5. Experiment with interactive e-mails
E-mails may not seem as interactive as other channels, such as social media, phone calls, or direct messaging, but that doesn’t mean that they’re a one-way form of communication.
The latest developments in email marketing tools allow brands to use emails to start a conversation and interact with clients, while at the same time boosting conversion rates.
Here’s how you can incorporate more interactive elements in your e-mail campaigns:
Interactive polls and surveys
Polls and surveys are a great way of getting customer feedback and finding out how you can improve your business. Unfortunately, many people don’t open emails that request feedback or, if they do, they don’t click on the survey link. One way you can solve this problem is by including polls and surveys as interactive elements straight in the emails. By giving feedback without leaving the email, not only do customers help you improve your services, but also increase the click-through rate on your emails.
Include “scratch cards” in emails
Customers receive many promotional emails every day and this can create fatigue and loss of interest, something even during the sales season.
So, will you have to make your discounts higher and higher, until you no longer make a profit? Not really. The trick is to present your promotion in a unique way.
For example, how about encouraging your clients to discover that promotion, like scratching off a lottery ticket? This unique method of delivery, combined with the excitement of discovery, will make the recipient want to make a purchase.
Use interactive images
“Flip the Switch” from shoe brand Tom’s was one of the most successful email marketing campaigns of 2018 precisely because it harnessed the power of curiosity and interaction: if users flipped the icon of a switch in the email, the background went dark and they could see that the shoes glowed in the dark. You can use similar graphics to emphasize a unique product feature.
6. Optimize your email campaign for mobile
More and more customers rely on their mobile phones to interact with brands. More than 50% of emails are opened on smartphones and 75% of customers say that mobile is their preferred device for checking emails. (source)
What are the implications of these statistics for your email marketing campaign? You need to optimize your emails so that they look great on a small screen and deliver the same valuable experience on all platforms. Follow these strategies for mobile-friendly emails:
- Use images sparingly. One or two images can make your email more attractive, but going too image-heavy can have the opposite effect on mobile phones. First of all, the email will look too cluttered and secondly, they might take too long to load. Also, never send image-only emails, because your recipient may have all the images turned off by default.
- If you use a template for your emails, make sure it’s responsive.
- Adjust the subject line. Some mobile phones don’t display the entire subject line until they’re held horizontally, so make sure the most important information fits within the first 30 characters.
- Include breaks between paragraphs to make the text easier to follow.
- Use buttons instead of links, because they’re larger and easier to click.
Remember! A mobile-friendly email template won’t help you if it sends the user to a non-responsive landing page, so make sure your website is optimized too!
7. Write compelling CTAs
Each and every one of your emails should include a call-to-action – a button or link that drives them to do a certain action.
Calls to action are important because they continue the interaction between you and your customer.
In 99% of cases, brands use emails to drive sales in one way or another, but that doesn’t mean your go-to CTA should be “Buy Now”. In fact, CTAs containing the world “buy” are some of the most overused out there and the only occasion when they still work is around the holidays.
So, instead of “Buy Now”, here are other smart ways to write compelling CTAs:
- Use the 1st person to make the CTA more personal. For example, instead of having a link that says “Down your free 30-day trial”, use “Download my free 30-day trial” instead. According to an Unbounce study, switching to the 1st person can increase click rates by up to 90%.
- Create a sense of urgency. People don’t want to miss out on a good offer, so use phrases like “limited time deal”, “24 hrs only” or “ending soon”. For even more impact, you can insert a timer right next to the button.
- Use a color that inspires action. According to color psychologists, green, red, and orange are the best option if you want to drive sales. For best results, set bright buttons against a white background so they can stand out.
As a final word, remember that building the perfect email marketing campaign may take some time. Experiment with all the strategies, see what works out for you, and adjust your campaign based on the analytics until you figure out the perfect recipe for your small business.
Estelle Liotard is a seasoned content writer and a blogger, with years of experience in different fields of marketing. She is a content editor at Trust My Paper and loves every second of it. Her passion is teaching people how to overcome digital marketing obstacles and help businesses communicate their messages to their customers.