Email marketing for small businesses

There are a number of email services you can use to reach your customers.  We recommend using MailChimp to send your emails, but others including MailerLite have very similar features and both are free up to 1000 subscribers, and great value once you get past that stage.

 

You might start thinking that an email service isn't necessary and you can manage this simply within Microsoft Outlook, but sending large volumes of email through your usual email client is a really bad idea for a number of reasons:

  • Your ISP might block your email address and / or your IP address for spamming
  • A large number of emails will cause a bottleneck and could interrupt the usual email traffic your business depends on
  • You could accidentally use TO or CC instead of BCC (and therefore share your customer list with everyone)
  • You'll have to manually keep track of people who unsubscribe and risk being reported for spam if you accidentally send further communications
  • You won't have any idea how many people opened or clicked on links in your emails

 

You'll find that the drag-and-drop editor in Mailchimp allows you to easily build an attractive email newsletter without needing to spend a lot of time or effort on design.  Easily upload images and move content around one of the many existing template designs.  The templates also automatically adjust depending on what type of device they're opened on, so they'll look just as good on an iPhone as they do on a desktop computer.

 

There are lots of great features included for free that you can explore if you get adventurous...

 

A/B Split Testing

This allows you to create two different versions of your email newsletter and mailchimp will divide the recipients and allow you to see which version has the best performance of opens or clicks.

 

Auto Resend Campaigns

One of the key benefits of using an email newsletter service is the reporting you get access to.  Mailchimp knows whether a recipient has opened the email or not, and these auto resend campaigns mean that you can schedule an automatic second version to be sent again if the first is not opened.

 

List Segmentation

Managing your customer email lists in Mailchimp is very easy, and you can create segments of the list to send specific content to based on the information you hold about them.

 

What to include in your email newsletters

The most successful email newsletters we've seen aren't about selling a product or service.  They're primarily informative pieces often driven by a catchy list, which is featured in the email subject line.  "5 top reasons you should xxxxx" or "Three things you can do today to improve your xxxxx".  Mailchimp templates allow for multiple features on a newsletter so you could have an informative article as the key focus but then use smaller side columns to be more sales-based.  Keeping the content balanced this way will also help to keep unsubscribes to a minimum and you'll find it easier to sign people up to your database if you're offering relevant news, ideas and exclusive offers rather than simply pushing your product offering.

If you're struggling to write content or running out of ideas, don't forget to ask your suppliers to help - they should have plenty of consumer appropriate materials and they should be more than happy for you to share it as your own.

Marketing for Independent Retailers

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