Even though we live in a digital age with virtual reality and artificial intelligence, some "old school" marketing tactics are still in the game. Specifically, I'm talking about email marketing. Based on 2018 data, email marketing is still ranked as the most effective marketing channel, beating out social media, SEO, and affiliate marketing. This is because people use email more than other platforms.

What is Email Marketing

If you have never heard of email marketing, you might be wondering what that is and how this applies to you as a small business owner. In short, email marketing is the use of email to promote products and/or services. Data shows that 85% of adult internet users in the US use email more than other platforms. This means that as a business you have an easy and free way to promote your services and products to users.

However, don't get this strategic marketing tactic confused with the spam emails that flood your inbox. Those are the bad side of email marketing and you really don't want to go down that path. At its best, email marketing is a way for businesses to keep their customers informed and tailor your marketing strategies to your loyal customers.

Advantages of Email Marketing

Aside from some of the previous points I discussed, email marketing is cheap and easy to use. If you are a small business, this will save you a decent amount of money in your advertising costs. Email marketing is also really easy to set up and manage, which again makes it great for small businesses. It can also be an effective way to inform your customers of upcoming events, important information, and special events.

Building Your Mailing List

Building your mailing list is going to be the first thing you need to do. There are a few ways to go about doing this in a non "sales-y" way.

Build a Signup Sheet

You can have a signup sheet at your register or even add a virtual one at online checkout or on your website.

Invite People to "Join the Club"

You can have something that advertises your loyalty program and the benefits you get from it. That will require an email to sign up with, which can be used for your email list. Customers are more likely to give you their email if they know it will give them rewards or special offers.

Organize a Giveaway

You can do this either at your physical location or online if you don't have a location. Let's say you run a restaurant, you can have a giveaway for one free meal for a small family. If you have an online store you can advertise it on your website or through your social media. The way they enter the giveaway is their email address.

Reward Your Email List

You can offer special rewards for people that are signed up to your email list. This is slightly different than customers being signed up for your loyalty program.

Get Employees Involved

If you have ever been to any store, you've most likely been asked once or twice for your email address during check out. Employees are typically doing this to get you added to their loyalty program, but it also works for an email list.

Offer Freebies

Chances are you've probably signed up for an email list without even realizing it. Companies tend to give away free discounts or products, but the catch is that you have to enter your email address. This is completely legal, as long as you comply with marketing laws and clearly state somewhere that it's for email subscribers.

Segment Your Lists

Segmentation is the practice of splitting up your email lists into more targeted groups. An example of a segmented list would be your customer list, newsletter subscribers, and daily email list. Here is a breakdown of the difference between each of them.

Customer List

Your customer list is the people who have actually bought your product or actively pay for whatever service you provide. These differ from customer leads because people on your leads list haven't made a purchase, but instead are going to be receiving some sort of sales pitch.

Newsletter Subscribers

Your newsletter subscribers are neither buyers or leads. They are people who solely signed up to receive general information, deals, updates, and special offers.

Daily/Weekly/Monthly Email List
These are people that opt-in to receive emails either every day, week, or month.

It's important to give people a chance to choose which categories they're in, because at the end of the day, they're the ones receiving the content. With segmentation, you can also send follow up emails to people who didn't open an email, or to those that showed an interest in the first one.

Create Valuable Content

Now that you've set up your mailing list and done more research on email marketing, you'll want to make sure the content you're distributing has value. Think about it this way, your customers are trusting you with their personal information and will not appreciate being flooded with pointless emails. You will want to make sure you have a clear marketing strategy and stick to it.

Understanding Analytics

Once you've started sending out your valuable content to your customers, it's time to learn about your analytics. All of the analytics that is provided is important but you really want to focus on these main three: open rate, click-through rate, and unsubscribes. Let's take a deeper dive into what each of these are.

Open Rate

Your open rate is exactly what it sounds like. It shows how many people open your emails. It’s based on a single invisible tracking pixel that loads when someone clicks on your message.

Open rates a great way to see how well the relationship with your customers are going. If you have a high open rate, your customers are excited to see what content you're putting out. A low open rate means  you have a lot of unengaged subscribers and it's time to reflect on the value of the content you're putting out.

Click Through Rate (CTR)

Your click-through rate is showing how many people clicked on a link in your email. If you don't have any links in your email, this data won't be applicable to scenarios like that.

If your click-through rate is low, it means your message is not targeted enough or simply not valuable enough for your readers to click on. This means focusing on your email copy and providing useful information to your subscribers.

Unsubscribe Rate

Finally, your unsubscribe rate is another straight forward piece of data. It's showing how many people are unsubscribing from your email list. If your unsubscribe rate is higher than your opt-in (sign up) rate, then you have some serious work to do. This means your emails have gotten to the point where they offer no value to your loyal readers. If this is the case for you, try to examine when people are leaving and take action based on those leaks.

You will be able to determine what the problem is by looking at unsubscribe rates after certain types of emails are sent out. Are people unsubscribing after marketing messages? Are they leaving right at the beginning of a marketing campaign? Looking at all of this data is going to help make your email marketing the best it can be.

Closing Thoughts

Email marketing is a very useful tool for businesses of any size. It's important to remember when taking advantage of email marketing you need to have valuable content and something your customers want to read about.