Email Marketing for Small Business

5 min read · 9 months ago


One look at your own inbox, and you probably won’t doubt that billions of business emails are sent daily. It may feel as if they’re all coming your way. Still, email marketing is a valuable tool for small business looking to reach current and prospective customers, build awareness, and drive sales. This article examines the essentials of email marketing for small business. 

First, a little context about email marketing overall:

  • Email marketing is the most widely used tool for customer engagement in North America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region (77.6% compared to 62% engagement for content management and 61% for social media)
  • 72% of customers prefer email as the main channel for business communication
  • Email marketing ROI is 4200% (that’s $42 for every $1 spent)
  • Marketing and advertising emails influence buying decisions for 50.7% of customers

Email is a great equalizer too. When it comes to email marketing, a small business can use this channel just as the enterprises do for “lead generation (85%), sales (84%), lead nurturing (78%), and customer retention (74%).”

An effective email campaign can convert leads to sales, strengthen customer relationships, increase brand awareness, and more. To enable your business to get the most benefits from this channel, this article will:

  • Define email marketing
  • Share how to get started
  • Suggest ways to track email performance


What Is Email Marketing?

What Is Email Marketing?

You likely get a barrage of email marketing in your personal and professional inboxes every day. But let’s talk about it from the sender’s perspective. 

Email marketing is one of many digital marketing channels. An advantage? Small businesses fully control it. Your business builds a recipient list by encouraging customers and leads, website visitors, and social followers to share their email addresses. Then, you decide on an audience segment. You write content for that targeted group. You handle the distribution. You reap the benefits, whether in terms of sales, education, awareness, or brand loyalty. But your small business can handle all aspects of the email marketing campaign. Unlike search or social media, you have greater control over who sees what and when. You don’t have to worry about a platform’s algorithm making unexpected changes to your distribution strategy.

Shopify has seen email consistently outperform search, direct, and social in terms of conversion during Black Friday Cyber Monday. In fact, email can affect all “three ways to grow revenue: increase the total number of customers (C), increase the total number of purchases per customer (purchase frequency, or F), or increase the average order value (AOV).” The ecommerce site noted, “Email marketing is relatively unique in its ability to drive the first sale as well as unlock more revenue from your most valuable customers.”


How To Start an Email Campaign

​​Step one: get a business email address. The web host for your business website may give you a certain number of associated business email addresses. Sending from a branded email address can help with credibility. Plus, if your web hosting service offers an integrated email service, it’ll be easier to build your email lists and create and send email marketing campaigns.

Email marketing for small business relies on your mailing list. You need to start collecting email addresses from the very first day you’re in business. Invite people to share their email addresses with you throughout your business website. You could have these signups on your site’s header, footer, About Us, and any resource pages. If you have a blog, ask for emails there too.

You want people to “opt-in” to hear from you. When you have this permission, you will get a much better response to your email efforts. Buying a list of recipients from someone else is a fast track to being marked as spam. To build your list more quickly, you might offer exclusive discounts, run a contest, or require an email address to access educational ebooks or videos.

Now that you have the recipients to email, you’ll need to decide on the target audience and appropriate content. You wouldn’t send a “Friends and Family” loyalty discount to someone who has not bought anything with your brand yet. You don’t want to send a “How To Get the Most Out of the New X Feature” educational email to someone who doesn’t have that device or product.

The content needs to be great. As digital marketing guru Neil Patel puts it, “Remember: You’re a Guest in Their Inbox.” You need:

  • Excellent copywriting to engage the audience and explain what the email is for
  • A strong call to action, making it obvious what you want the reader to do
  • Visual content that will grab attention
  • A subject line that helps get recipients to open the email and click through
  • Accurate and complete contact details (and an unsubscribe link) to build trust

Learn more by reading our 6 Simple Steps to Your First Email Marketing Campaign.


Tracking Email Campaigns for Small Business

Tracking Email Campaigns for Small Business​​

Each email campaign can have a different goal. A series of emails welcoming someone to your brand will not have the same objective as the emails you send to someone who browsed your online shop but abandoned their cart. That said, there are some key metrics you can use to track email marketing success.

  • Open rate—how many successfully delivered emails were opened.
  • Click-through rate—how many opened emails saw the recipient engage by clicking a link in the email.
  • Conversion rate—the number of people who completed the desired action (e.g., downloading an item, filling out a form, or purchasing a product).
  • Bounce rate—you want your subscriber list to grow, but you also want to know that your list is a reliable one. You’ll get a hard bounce if the email address is invalid.  A soft bounce can mean the recipient’s email inbox is full, or there is some other problem on their end.
  • Sharing/Forwarding rate—having people share or forward your email helps you attract new leads.
  • Unsubscribe rate—how many people unsubscribe after opening your email. Note: if your recipient goes so far as to mark your email as spam, that will hurt your overall deliverability rate.
  • Revenue—monitors the percentage of revenue you can attribute to your email marketing.

To learn how to calculate the basic email marketing metrics, check out this Hubspot primer. Or, if you’re looking to boost your email success, review our article How to Ignite Your Email Marketing Strategy.


Press Send on Small Business Email

Email marketing for small business isn’t that different than email marketing for larger-sized companies. That’s a good thing. Here it’s not so much a David and Goliath story as a matter of everyone having their own story to tell. With the information shared in this article, you’ll be able to get started sending out email campaigns to market your brand, establish trust, and increase your sales.