Email marketing 101: Beginner’s guide for small businesses

Image by Prodeep Ahmeed from Pixabay

By Sheryl Wright

Email marketing may be a relatively older method of reaching your target audience than, say, TikTok or Instagram Stories, but it remains one of the most lucrative forms of digital marketing. In fact, according to a study from OptinMonster, the potential return on investment from email marketing can reach up to 4,400 percent. To further drive home the impact of email marketing, statistics also show that people send over 102.6 trillion emails per year. There is no denying that email marketing is here to stay. Here’s a beginner’s guide to email marketing for small business owners.

Know when and when not to send emails

You don’t want to be like one of those brands that only send you an email when they have an upcoming promotion or when Black Friday or Thanksgiving is just around the corner. But you also don’t want to send an email every day that contains no useful or new information. Consistency and timing with your marketing emails are important to accomplish maximum potency.

If you really value your customers, it’s important to establish a comprehensive communication funnel email strategy. Establishing frequency caps and suppressing inactive email list subscribers are also good strategies to make sure you aren’t spamming your audience.

Balance promotional and engaging emails

Email marketing campaigns that are fully centered towards promoting the brand and its products/services do not help build any positive relations with its recipients. Over time, sending too many promotional emails can result in your messages getting labeled as spam.

Experts recommend occasionally sending your subscribers messages that do not promote or ask anything from them. The message can simply contain information of value, such as an interesting fact about the industry or emerging trends. The more engaging or informative your messages are, the better your brand is perceived as a trustworthy expert in its respective niche.

Learn how to create a successful drip campaign

In a nutshell, an email drip campaign is meant to reach out to your intended audience with a specific message at a specific time. This approach uses an automated system to send emails, from welcome messages to order confirmation alerts. Developing an effective campaign involves a cadence, including identifying your target audience, establishing goals, writing a message that reflects said goal/s, and launching and analyzing your campaign.

A properly executed drip campaign has many benefits, including a higher level of engagement with minimal effort spent, accurate segmentation that results in higher revenue, and an ongoing conversation between the small business and its audience.

Customize your emails

Email marketing is a great way to show off your brand’s values and personality. It’s your chance to show that you are human. Put a personal touch to your emails by speaking more casually and as if you were speaking with a family member, friend, or coworker. Small businesses actually have a unique advantage over corporations in this regard since there is less red tape and hoops to jump through.

Your customers buy from people, rather than faceless corporations. They want to know who you, as a business, are. Another effective way of customizing your emails is to include a professional photo of the brand’s co-founders and their families.

Keep it short

It’s a well-known fact that the average human’s attention span is a mere eight seconds. As today’s generation continues to be hooked to technology, this number may drop even further. You don’t want to inundate your subscribers with large chunks of promotional content regularly. Not only do you lose their attention but can also cause them to unsubscribe from your email list.

Keep the message concise. Use headers and bold and italic tags to get your brand’s message across. Trim the common intro and conclusion sentences, such as “at company XYZ, we are proud to offer affordable blah blah blah.” Instead, get to the point of what price discount you are offering.

Email marketing is here to stay, and small businesses that can learn and master this technique can get an edge against competitors in their space. As a final tip, optimize your emails for mobile devices. With more customers using their smartphones to interact with the outside world today, it makes sense to tailor your emails for mobile platforms.


Sheryl Wright is a freelance writer who specializes in digital marketing, inclusive business, and interior design. If she is not at home reading, she is at a farmers market or climbing in the Rockies. She lives in Nashville, TN.

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