Email marketing continues to be one of the strongest tools available to small business owners. More than nine out of 10 U.S. adults reporting that they like to receive promotional emails from the brands they do business with, according to Marketing Sherpa, an advertising industry think tank. Email marketing can be done successfully on a DIY basis or with minimal support from an agency, making it a very cost-effective option.
That being said, email marketing only works when emails are opened, read, and acted upon. To find out the most effective ways small businesses can leverage email marketing campaigns, we spoke with Erica McGillivray, senior community manager at Moz, a search marketing software firm. Here are some of her best practices:
Stick to a sensible email schedule
Be consistent with email. McGillivray says that people drop off or get offended that you're contacting them if they don't remember who you are and how they got on their list. A sensible schedule doesn’t necessarily mean regular weekly or daily emails. It may just involve increasing the frequency of emails during busy seasons for your type of industry. Just make sure to keep the silent stretches to a minimum. “The biggest mistake small businesses make is not being consistent,” she says. “Email is the easiest way to get in front of your audience and have direct access to them. Don't ignore it as a marketing channel and don't break that trust once you have it.”
Be opt-in compliant, McGillivray cautions. In the U.S., email marketing is subject to the provisions of the CAN SPAM act, a fairly complex law that specifies what constitutes permissible email marketing. Email marketing firms take steps to make sure their clients remain CAN SPAM compliant; if you’re doing everything on your own, make sure you’re fully familiar with the law. Sending email marketing out of country can be even more complex. “Canada, the European Union, and Australia have very strict laws, of which fines are in the millions of dollars, around making sure people aren't spammed,” she says.
Be sure your customer can read your message
Make your email as mobile and email client-friendly as possible, McGillivray says. “Email clients—the program your audience uses to access their emails—have all sorts of different quirks, which can be very frustrating,” she says. Try to keep your email code as simple as possible. Testing messages in several different clients can help ensure your emails look good to all of your customers.
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