The Unofficial Email Marketing Roadmap for Your Local Business

Email marketing remains one of the best ways for local businesses to build customer loyalty and attract new customers. It’s affordable and accessible – but it won’t be effective if you don’t make the most of it. The good news?

Every dollar spent on email marketing in the United States generates $44 of revenue. That’s crazy ROI by any standard. Welcome emails generate 320% more revenue than other emails – something that underscores the importance of attracting new subscribers. Convinced? Good! Here are some pointers to help you navigate the potential pitfalls of email marketing and get the results you deserve.

Build Your List

It’s important to begin at the beginning. You can’t launch a successful email marketing campaign without subscribers. So, what can you do to attract them? Here are some things to try:

  • Simplify your opt-in form. A lot of companies add fields they don’t need. Stick with the person’s email and – if you want to personalize your communication – a field for their first name. That’s all you need.
  • Add a unique call to action. Instead of just including a “Subscribe” button, try adding something a bit more exciting. “Yes” statements are great – Yes! I want to be the first to know about new promotions!
  • Create a lead magnet. A lead magnet is a giveaway to entice people to sign up for your list. Examples include cheat sheets, templates, and reports.
  • Put opt-in forms in more than one place on your website. The goal is to make it easy for people to subscribe. Make it easy for people to find and complete your form.
  • Use a pop-up or lightbox to encourage subscriptions. Pop-ups get bad press, but they work. Using a simple overlay lightbox can increase subscriptions by making it impossible for people to miss your form.
  • Ask people to subscribe when they check out. The cash register is the ideal place to gather email addresses. Let’s face it – somebody who’s already bought from you is an ideal subscriber!
  • Have a tablet for people to subscribe. An electronic form is better than a paper one since it means you won’t need to worry about bad handwriting.
  • Consider segmenting your list. List segmentation allows you to send content that’s tailored to your customers’ specific needs. You can encourage self-segmentation by asking subscribers to choose the topics or products they want to hear about.

Collecting new subscribers will allow you to reach more people with your email campaigns.

  • Commit to emailing at least once a week. A good way to do it is to create a short weekly newsletter that will keep subscribers up-to-date on your business.
  • Post about your newsletter on social media. Chances are you’ve got social media followers who aren’t on your list – so hit them with a little FOMO and let them know what they’re missing by not subscribing.
  • Keep your emails visually simple. A newsletter that’s too crowded or visually cluttered isn’t going to be read. Your emails should be clean and easy to read with outgoing links to longer material.
  • Optimize your emails for mobile users. Every email you send should be easy to read on any device a subscriber is using, including mobile phones and tablets.
  • Give your subscribers something special. Anybody who subscribes to your list should feel that they’re a priority to you – so give them sneak peeks at new products or a heads-up on an upcoming sale.
  • Create customer surveys and email them. Surveys are a great (and cheap!) way to do some customer research, and many email automation services offer templates to create them.
  • Track your results. One of the most common mistakes small business owners make is not tracking the results of their email campaigns. Tracking allows you to identify the types of content that perform best.
  • Test your content. Emails can be tested the same way web content can. Sending out different headlines and content can help you focus on what your subscribers want. Remember that you can test everything from your subject line to the headlines of individual articles to your call to action.

I can’t tell you what your subscribers want to read, but these guidelines can help you identify their interests and preferences and tailor your campaigns to them.

Retain Your Existing Subscribers

You already know that it costs way more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. Your existing subscribers are the same. So, what can you do to keep the people who are already on your list happy? Here are some ideas:

  • Send a killer welcome email. I already told you that welcome emails generate more than three times as much business as other emails. That means that hitting your new subscribers with an irresistible offer – a coupon or BOGO or whatever it is that works for you – will help you get that all-important first order.
  • If you really want to ramp things up, create a welcome series. It doesn’t need to be long – although some companies create long series of as many as 50 emails – but it needs to include valuable content and relevant offers.
  • Use a double opt-in. A double opt-in is when a subscriber fills out your opt-in form and you require them to click on a verification email before they subscribe. That might seem like a hassle – and it might seem to run counter to what I said earlier about simplifying forms. However, it’s one of the best ways to eliminate spammers and guarantee that the people on your list want to be there.

Email marketing has been lucrative for small businesses for a reason. Even Millennials prefer to communicate by email – and because email marketing is affordable, it’s a cost-effective way to build brand recognition and loyalty, attract new customers, and grow your business.

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