The Email Marketing Guide for Small Businesses


Email marketing is a cost-effective way for small and medium-sized businesses (SME’s) to find new business and build relationships with existing customers.

This guide will show you how to build an email list, how to get up and running with your small business email marketing software, how to design emails for optimum engagement and the metrics you should be looking at to improve ROI.

Building a list

Almost half of small businesses are using email marketing and many more are planning to get started soon. Don’t procrastinate! The sooner you start building a list, the quicker you can start to grow your profits.

Your first step will be to create an opt-in or subscription form and there are four main types; pop-up, embedded, fixed and floating.

Each form should consist of a title, an image, all the fields to be completed by the visitor and a sign-up button. Additional elements might include a short description, checkbox(es), radio buttons and a final call-to-action next to your sign-up/submit button.

Choose fields that are relevant to your small business and request details about your subscribers that will be most useful to you.

Collecting the data

There is no need to restrict yourself to one subscription form on your website.

You might design one form as part of your basic homepage as well as adding a popup form that appears when your visitor has spent a few minutes on the site. This type of “in-your-face” form converts very effectively, and you can use A/B testing to see which design and which timing converts best.

It’s best to keep forms as precise and simple as possible or your visitor may give up and click away for a number of reasons, perhaps a lack of time or not wanting to divulge their phone number, for example.  A limited number of self-explanatory fields is more likely to get you subscribers. The example above from the Life is Good website asks only for an email address while offering a discount and free shipping.

Make the form aesthetically pleasing and in keeping with your organization or brand and be sure to clarify what people can expect when they sign up.

What is double-opt in?

Since internet users first became aware of spam and junk emails, double opt-ins have become more popular. Double opt-in means that after entering their information in your sign-up form, a customer may be required to go back to their email inbox and click a link that you sent them, like the one below.

Single opt-in might grow your list quicker, but deliverability will be lower because invalid or inactive email addresses can find their way on to your list. With double opt-in you will end up with a higher quality email list full of subscribers that really want to receive your messages.

Email layout

Almost every email you send will follow a similar layout. Of course, there will be a sender, which might be you and/or your company or brand name.  Secondly, a subject line, which should give the reader a short summary of the email in an eye-catching or urgent way (we recommend avoiding all-caps and click-bait)

Next the header, which could be a call-to-action, a link, a newsflash perhaps or your logo, just to mention a few ideas.  The main body of your email will follow the header and might begin with an introduction or welcome, then the main message with images, links and ideally a call to action.

Last, but not least, the footer.  This might include a number of things; links to social media, your contact information, legal jargon or a simple thank you and sign-off.  You might also want to include an unsubscribe button.

Adding images can enhance the look of your emails but be sure that they are in-keeping with the text of the email, not just a random picture that happens to look nice!

Measuring your results

The main intention of email marketing is to gain clicks through to your website, pages views and/or ultimately to increase sales, so you must track some key metrics to measure your success.  Set yourself goals to work towards and test frequently to see which subject lines, content, images and offers give you the best results.

Emails do sometimes bounce. People will unsubscribe from your list and that’s not necessarily a negative thing.  You really only want to keep interested and engaged readers anyway. However, you don’t want to lose subscribers by blasting out too many emails in a short space of time, or by sending content that does not appeal.

To avoid spam complaints, use a double opt-in form and check in with your visitors every now and again to get feedback on your content by asking them directly or perhaps with a survey.

Conversion Rates

This is possibly the most important metric you need to analyze. A good way to keep track is through Google Analytics.

By examining the statistics, you will be better able to make informed marketing decisions based on real data and adjust your email marketing strategies accordingly.

You should know where your traffic comes from, who your website visitors are, how much time they spend on your site and what they do while they are on there.

Conversion rates will directly impact your ROI, so it’s important to measure this and respond accordingly in order to spend your marketing budget in the most effective way.

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