At the core of nearly every successful small business digital campaign, you often find email marketing leading other initiatives. While I have talked at length on the importance of email marketing to small businesses, I wanted to provide you with some foolproof tips for your email marketing initiatives.

Before we get into these tips, it is important to note that they will not work if you are purchasing email lists.

With that said, let’s take a look at some of my favorite small business email marketing tips and how you can use them to get the most out of your company’s email marketing efforts.

1. Represent the Company with a Person, Not a Brand

Nothing is more impersonal that seeing an email in your inbox with the sender name as “Company Name”.  Of course, you can typically get by with this if you are large, well-known company. However, if you are a local company or even a startup, it would be best to identify a “face” of the company that users can relate to.

With this person identified, your small business should use their name as the sender name on all emails. Additionally, you should sign off your emails with this name as well.

By promoting an actual person of your company through emails, readers are able to build an affinity with this person and ultimately are able to put a face with the company. I don’t know about you, but I like to know the person(s) I am dealing with at a company.

A great example of this was done by Quaderno. After signing up, the owner introduced himself so I could associate a name with the company.

Sender Name is a Real Person!

2. Emphasize With the Reader

Your content of the email should should not be centered about “you.” In fact, the tone of your email should be about the reader and how you can emphasize with the problem(s) they are going through.

Ultimately, you want to show that you understand their struggles and why it is important to have a solution to their issues. However, you should keep the sales pitches to a minimum and leave the reader thirsting for more at the conclusion of the email.

By enticing them to learn more about how to solve their problem, you can hook them into clicking through to your site/landing page where you can be more up front about pitching a product.

3. Create Preview Text

If you are like me (and many others), before deciding to click through to an email, I like to look past the subject line and see what the email is about. Most email clients will show this preview.

If you do not set a preview, then the mail client will take the content from the body of the email. Most of the time this will be raw HTML and not really mean much to the reader other than it looks broken.

For example, take a look at how this email sits in my inbox:

No email preview snippet

While the subject line does give me an idea of what to expect when I click on it, the snippet does not drive me to want to click on it for more. Maybe there is a new channel package I would be interested in? Perhaps, there is an upcoming show I shouldn’t miss out on? I’d miss out on this simply because I didn’t open the email due to a lack of a strong preview snippet.

Don’t worry, not only did DirectTV fail me on this, so did Amazon which is surprising considering how tailored their site is.

Amazon could have easily created a preview that contained the titles/names of related items I might be interested in buying.

By creating the preview text, you are in control of what shows up in the preview snippet. This opportunity should be used to further engage the reader to click and open the email.

4. Keep it Short

The content of an email needs to be succinct and to the point. There is no need to have a 1,000+ word email and then a CTA to learn more. Ideally, your business emails should be concise and highlight what they can learn more about from clicking through.

Another issue with long emails is that 65% of emails first get opened on a mobile device. If you are reading an email on your mobile device, are you going to want to continuously scroll through a lengthy email? I’d be willing to bet the answer is “no.”

Therefore, I’d suggest keeping the email brief.

5. Experiment & Test

As with anything digital, you should always be testing. It’s how you learn, grow, and improve on your initiatives. Don’t rely on “gut feelings” to lead your small business email marketing campaigns.

Instead, perform A/B tests for subject lines, send times, or days you send to see which generate a better click through rate. Track what works (or doesn’t) so next time around you can improve upon your efforts.

Not only can you test the subject lines, but you can test the calls to action within the body of the email. By testing, you can incrementally increase your click through rates and ultimately see it impact the bottom line of your small business.

6. Optimize Your Plain Text Emails

HTML emails sure do look good (most of the time). However, not everyone has an email client that views HTML emails or perhaps they prefer plain text emails.

If you don’t optimize your plain text emails, readers will often see various HTML coding that will look like a foreign language to them. It will basically look like it is broken to the user and ultimately reduce your credibility with the reader.

Take a few minutes to optimize your plain text emails, you’ll thank me later.

7. Make Sure You Link Images

If you are using HTML for your emails, it makes sense to link your images to a page on your site. So instead of overdoing the text links in your copy, instead use images to link to your website. Additionally, you can create images that have text on them that can essentially serve as the call to action.

The goal of your email is to get others to click through to a desired page. Test the effectiveness of using images that are linked to a page instead of a stand alone text link.

8. Use Alt Text for Images

Quite a few email clients have images disabled from automatically loading. This means that unless they have previously told their email client to download images in emails from your domain, chances are the HTML email you sent will appear to have broken images. In fact, 43% of Gmail users read email without turning images on.

While you can’t force the loading of images in an email client, you can still provide them with an explanation of what the image is supposed to be. Think about it as a way to describe the image with text.

Therefore, you should always use alt text for your images so that others will have an idea of what they are should they not immediately load within their email client.

9. Have a Clear Call To Action

A common mistake many small businesses make is that they try to cram too much into an email. Ideally, you want to have a single CTA that the reader should achieve. If you overwhelm them with too many options they get distracted and ultimately will miss the one thing you wanted them to click.

Therefore, your call to action should be very obvious to the reader and not surrounded by anything that may distract them from performing this action.

Email Marketing for Small Business Owners Done Right

While there are no doubt many more nuances around email marketing for small businesses, these 9 foolproof email marketing tips will help you cover some of the basics.

Email marketing when done right can serve as the backbone of any success business online. However, if you don’t know what you are doing, it can have detrimental effects on your business.

If you are not sure what you are doing, need help, or have questions about email marketing be sure to let me know in the comments below or drop me a line.

photo credit: Biscarotte