The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for Small Business

We're all daily getting a lot of emails in our inbox. But, have you ever wondered what exactly is email marketing, and what makes you stay subscribed to some channels while making you click the dreaded unsubscribe button to others.

Basically, email marketing means using email to promote services or products. Also, you should always keep in mind that the main purpose of email marketing is to cultivate relationships with potential clients and nurture the existing ones.

Email marketing enables businesses to keep their customers informed and to appropriately create their marketing messages for their audience.

Why Email Marketing?

Almost everyone who has access to the internet has an email account. This allows them to connect to platforms and to receive messages that they think are valuable for them.

According to Statista, in 2019, global email users amounted to 3.9 billion users. With predictions to grow to 4.3 billion users in 2023. That's half of the world's population. It sure makes you think about which way you want to reach your target audience, doesn't it?


On top of this, email is a notably adjustable tool that can accommodate a wide range of information. Meaning that your emails can be simple and plain, or they can be a portable multimedia package. It all depends on your brand and the product or service you are selling.

Even though email marketing is on top of the food chain when it comes to internet marketing, you should always stick to providing value with your email. Why?
Well, many online users use emails for website and newsletter signups and are then afraid of getting spammed. Overall, users are pretty conscious of the dangers of unknown emails and according to a global survey, 45 percent of internet users reported that they avoided opening emails from unknown email addresses, or emails with suspicious subject lines.

Email Marketing for Your Small Business

If you are thinking of acquiring new customers, creating or enhancing your company’s relationship with your current clients, and if you want to build trust, loyalty and give them awareness about your brand, email marketing is definitely for you!

Small businesses can't always afford to invest time and resources into something that isn't going to get them the expected results.
That's why an email marketing campaign is a cost-effective solution that gives smaller businesses the power to reach customers in a place we all visit every day - our inbox.

Stay with me in the next couple of thousand words and learn how you can get started with email marketing.

Determine Your Goals and Create Your Strategy

Before starting, you need to know exactly why you want to use email marketing. Without a plan, it will be challenging for you to create your strategy.

Thinking of your business goals when creating the email marketing campaigns will help you achieve the desired results.

Just don't get ahead of yourself and keep your goals realistic. Try this by implementing SMART goals. This means that your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Here are some examples:

  • How do you want your email campaigns to help your small business?
  • How much do you want to increase the sales of your product or service? Or do you want to increase your website traffic?
  • Are you focused on gaining more social media followers?
  • What types of relationships do you want to build with your subscribers?
  • How will email marketing go with your overall digital marketing strategy?

After setting your SMART goals, you should also focus on sending the right email to the right people.

To explain my point, let’s say your name is Bryan and you own a small fitness center focused on health and well-being. Should you send emails promoting the new classes with Kangoo-jumps boots to older people in their 60s? Nope, you should first define your target groups by:

  • Demographics;
  • Their fitness level;
  • Their desire to train and/or change their diet.

Identifying these “ideal” customers is the best way to communicate and establish a lasting relationship with them. To distinct your target’s needs, I suggest you come up with a few buyer personas for the different services or products that you are offering.


Getting Started With Email Marketing

The first step when getting started with email marketing is to create a quality mailing list.

To start tiling your way towards email marketing for small businesses, you should get people to sign up for your emails.

There are various ways in which you can create a quality mailing list, the two most popular ways of gaining emails are the following:

  • Asking people to leave their emails in person, during an event or when they come in your store if you have an offline selling point;
  • Asking people to leave their emails through pop-ups, which can appear in the middle of your web page and cover the rest of the content.

When asking for a person's information, you should have a proper subscription form that includes what kind of value the person would get by subscribing. For example, are you going to send them some kind of discount, weekly or monthly news, promotions that are only for those who have subscribed?

Here's an example of a pop-up from Converse. As you can see, it gives you a 15% discount on your next purchase, if you opt-in to leave your email, including your name, gender, and date of birth.


The gender box is probably because they are trying to send out more personalized emails with different content for males and females, also they may send you some birthday discounts when your special day arrives.

For your own small business, when conducting your subscription form, you should define the number of fields within the form based on what information about your subscribers you would like to have.
One piece of advice, don't overstep it and ask them to leave you their mother's maiden name.

Choose an Email Service Provider

Before coming up with your email marketing campaigns, you will need to have the proper service through which you'll be sending the emails.

There are many free effective email marketing tools to choose from, make a small research and pick the one that you think offers the best value. You can see different kinds of reviews on the internet that will help you when choosing, after that you can start emailing and driving sales.

Popular email service providers are MailChimp, Klaviyo, Jilt, Omnisend, CM Commerce. But you can choose the one that fits your needs the best, whether you want to make flashy designs or make simple drag and drop email campaigns.

Segmentation and Personalization

The next step is to segment your audience and create personalized content for each segment.

As you start out, your subscriber list will reasonably be short. But, that doesn’t mean you can skip through the important process of segmentation. This involves breaking down your list into specific categories in order to personalize communications with each subscriber.

Nowadays, there are tools that will help you segment your audience in detail, not just by their geographical location, some unique characteristics or preferences. This includes knowing whether they’ve previously engaged with your brand and how. In some cases, you can also segment your audiences based on where they opted in so that you can send them even more targeted content.

In the past, personalization in email marketing only meant approaching receivers by their first names. That’s no longer the case as audiences expect more related communication with any brand. Precise segmentation will definitely be the key to achieving this.


What to Send?

The types of emails you send will depend on what type of small business you have. Regardless, it's always safe to start with a monthly email newsletter. Some other examples include:

  • Welcome emails;
  • Promotional emails for special offers, sales or events;
  • Seasonal messages: for holidays, birthdays, business anniversary;
  • Loyalty programs and discounts for your most devoted customers.

Don't forget that excellent results from an email marketing campaign, don't come just from the type of email you are sending. It also comes from the timing. Yes, you heard it right, relevant data shows that timing your emails also has a significant effect on open and click rates.

The open rate shows how many subscribers actually opened an email compared to how many received it. For example, if you send out 50 emails and 2 of them bounce, the number of delivered emails becomes 48. If out of those emails, 13 are opened, your open rate is then 13/48 = 0.27. Multiplying that by 100 gives you an email open rate of 27%.

Click-through rate is a metric that shows how many of the subscribers who opened your emails clicked on the links inside them. Here’s the formula: CTR = (Emails clicked / Emails delivered) * 100

According to Omnisend data, emails sent during the first 10 days of the month perform better than emails sent at the end of the month. Also, with a great combo of open and click rates, Thursday is the best day to send emails.


Of course, campaign performance may be modified for your audience. So, use this data for guidance as you start out. Then, observe your performance and tweak your campaigns as you gain more information.

Email Design

After planning out the emails you want to send, you’ll need to actually create your signature email design. This doesn't mean that all of your next emails should have the same design, but you should keep in mind that your designs should be similar so that you can raise brand awareness and be recognizable.

Also, don't sweat out on creating the Piccasso of newsletters, instead, choose something that works for your brand and audience. Keep in mind that sometimes less is more.

After coming up with the best design for your small business, you can implement the valuable and personalized content you have created for your prospects.

You want the content of your message to be clear along with the action you want subscribers to take

Call to action buttons, or CTAs is usually a button that sends readers to your website to:

  • Read a blog post they mind find value in;
  • Window-shop through your new collection/services;
  • Make a purchase using a discount code you have provided them with;
  • Download a whitepaper or eBook that you wrote;
  • Ask them to leave feedback after buying or using your service;

So whatever your purpose, make sure that your CTA button is visible, clear and clickable!

Subject Lines

This element shows the main idea behind each email you send. A compelling subject line should hit right on target, be bold and clear.

To craft a perfect subject line, I will give you some advice from the book Ca$hvertising - How to Use More Than 100 Secrets of Ad-Agency Psychology to Make BIG MONEY Selling Anything to Anyone by Drew Eric Whitman.

In this book he explains why titles are important, his insights can reasonably be put into action when writing a magical subject line.

What you will need to do is put yourself in your customers' shoes and answer this simple question:


"What will this product/service do for me?"


Afterward, providing people with content that's relevant and worthy of their time would be easier.

You should avoid using CAPS LOCK in your email subject lines, and some triggering words. I mean, would you open an email that said:




Of course not, instead you can use words like:


"Tasting day at our store for all the chocoholics out there 🎂"


A good tip is to ask questions in email subject lines as they evoke curiosity and interest, especially if they are relevant to your subscribers.

Header and Footer

Once you have the body of your email and the best subject line that will bring you awesome open and click-through rates, you should probably know that the header and footer of your email marketing campaigns are just as important as the body. Why?
Well, the header is the first thing users see when they open your emails. Here it is best if you include your logo.

The footer is the finish of your email. It usually includes elements like:

  • Social Media links;
  • Contact details;
  • Unsubscribe link or button;
  • Legal information.

A/B Testing

A/B testing, also known as split testing, is when you create three groups of your audience and figure out the most effective campaign in terms of better open rate or click-through rates.

In an A/B test you set up two variations of the one campaign and send them to a small percentage of your total recipients. Group 1 is sent one version, and group B the other. The result, measured by the most open rates or click-through rates, determines the triumphant version. This is then sent to the remaining subscribers, also known as group C.


With this kind of testing, you can test out different subject lines, CTA buttons, email designs. That way you can create excellent and successful marketing campaigns for your small business!

Optimization and Metrics

For instance, if you find out that a campaign on a certain subject has prompted more click-throughs by making your A/B testing, then you may want to create more content on this topic for future email marketing campaigns.

This means that you are open to optimizing your email marketing strategy and use the analytics you have access to wisely.

Don't forget to:

  • Keep track of the unsubscribes;
  • Keep track of any complaints or spam reports;
  • Keep track of the click-through rates and open rates, so that you can see when they drop and figure out why;
  • Keep track of your conversions to see how well you are doing with your small business email marketing campaigns and avoid losing budgets when you have no results.

Also, a good way to generate an amazing user experience for your customers would be to always check and optimize the mobile version of your email marketing campaigns. People are taped to their phones, which means they're more likely to read your email using an app, you can leverage this and create awesome emails that are mobile phone optimized!

Another good way to take care of your customers and provide them with proper value is to try to make your email marketing campaigns accessible to readers with visual or cognitive impairments


Having accessible content is not just a hot topic for email marketers in 2020, it's the right thing to do!


There are a few things you can do to make sure your emails are more accessible:

  • Make your content clear, short and use bullet points;
  • Use proper heading;
  • Choose readable font;
  • Provide ALT Tags if you have any images in your email;
  • Use descriptive anchor text for any links. For someone using a link labeled "Click here" doesn’t provide enough information about the destination URL.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, email marketing can become your trusted companion if you are a small business owner. It’s a clever way to approach your consumers on a more personal level.

If you need any help regarding email marketing, or creating an email marketing strategy, don't hesitate to contact us.

Implementing email marketing in your digital marketing strategy will most certainly bring you great results. Just follow some simple steps and don't forget to: take care of your mailing list, provide value with a proper structure, to analyze your campaigns and to track your previously set goals.

“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue."

- Andrew Davis, author, and keynote speaker