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Email Marketing Basics for Local Businesses

Email Marketing

Email Is One of the Most Effective Forms of Marketing That Any Type of Business Can Have in Its Promotion Repertoire.

Email marketing is incredibly cost-effective and a great way for local businesses to spread the word about the latest blog article, a new loyalty coupon or program or news/events happening at your store. Email marketing is the modern equivalent of the direct mail pieces a local business would have sent out via the post office 20 years ago. While printed direct mail pieces are still an effective medium for certain types of businesses, there are large up-front costs associated with direct mail (i.e.: designing, printing, postage, etc.).

You don’t have to take my word that email is important for your local business, take a look at the facts:

  • 95% of online shoppers use email
  • For every $1 spent on email marketing, $44.25 is returned
  • 58% of American adults have a smartphone
  • 65% of all email is opened first on a mobile device
  • 74% of smartphone-related purchases are completed in-store

Clearly email is an important marketing tactic for local businesses, but that doesn’t mean that you are ready to jump into creating multiple complex campaigns for your small business. We’ll walk you through all the email marketing basics you need to know and show you how your local business can use this platform to connect with more consumers through email. Let’s get started!

Types of Email Marketing

No matter what email type of you are sending, you are nurturing and building the relationships you have with your customers (both existing and prospective).

As a local business, the goal of your email marketing campaigns should be to keep your business top of mind. By staying top of mind with your subscribers, when they need a product/service that your business provides, they will choose you vs. your competition.


Newsletters allow your local business to keep customers informed on news and happenings at your business.

Promotional emails

Alert customers of upcoming sales and specials in a promotional email.

Catalog emails

Highlight a specific product or service, but keep the body of a catalog email focused on one topic, and you’ll attract customers to the featured product/service.

Invitation emails

When hosting special events, invite your customers! Send an invitation email in the days or weeks leading up to your event to make sure they are able to plan accordingly.

Survey emails

Gain insight into the needs, habits and behaviors of your customers with surveys that you send out via email. Popular (free) survey tools: SurveyMonkey, Type Forms and Google Forms.

Transactional emails

After a customer has completed their purchase from your local business, you can send a transactional email that confirms the purchase and thanks them for their business.

Now that you understand the different types of emails you can use for marketing, it’s time to write your email copy.

The 5 P’s of effective email copy

1. Promise

Each email should contain a promise, starting with the subject line of what you are going to deliver.

Your promise should be something that your customers want — and will be excited to receive. Always include a clear call-to-action (CTA), or next step, that directs customers what they should do to get whatever it is you promised.

2. Personalize

In order to get customers to open your email and take action, your email needs to be relevant. Including your promise in the subject line is a good start, but you need to take your strategy one step further by personalizing it. Include dynamic fields to pull in their name or personal information. You may also need to consider adjusting delivery time and changing your messaging based on your audience.

3. Picture

The text of your email isn’t the only part of your email that you want your readers to see when they open it, so don’t forget to include images and pictures. You don’t have to have a degree in Fine Arts to use great images and pictures in your email.

Here are a few ideas for email images:

  • A picture of your product
  • Your logo
  • Social media icons (with links)
  • Your headshot in the signature

Whatever type of images you do choose, always opt for a clean layout that keeps your primary call to action front and center.

While images add to the effectiveness of an email, you need to keep in mind that many email providers actually require the recipient to right-click to download them. Your recipient should be able to understand the purpose of the email based on copy alone — because your images, no matter how beautiful, might be suppressed until downloaded by the user.

4. Proof

By this point in your email creation process, you have set an expectation and made a promise, communicated directly with your subscriber, and planted ideas of how your products/services can help them.

Now is where you will prove to them why they should choose your business (vs. another). You can do this by explaining how your product or service works, including a customer testimonial at the footer of your email, or by describing the results. Also, make sure to include links to your website and social media profiles to build your brand credibility.

You should also always include links back to your website and social media profiles in your email, to build your brand credibility.

5. Push

Lastly, include a specific ask in each email that pushes your subscribers to take the next step.

Don’t assume that your customers will understand what you want them to do — you need to include a powerful CTA to be clear about what you want consumers to do next. Whether your push is “click here” or “make an appointment,” be sure it stands out and displays correctly on both mobile and desktop.

A breakdown of email analytics

There is no shortage of analytics you can track when it comes to your email marketing campaigns. However, just because you can track them doesn’t mean that it will help you improve your overall strategy.

Below are the top data points your local business needs to track — and the information that each analytic will provide you with:

List growth: Learn how fast your list is growing. A good rate of growth is in the 25% range, if you are actively collecting email addresses.

Delivered: Your delivery rate will tell you how many recipients on your email list actually received the email you sent.

If your email software doesn’t provide you with the delivery rate, all you need to do is divide the emails that reached their destination by the total emails sent. Having an average delivery rate of 96% signals that you have a healthy and active list.

Hard bounces: Email messages that are permanently rejected, most likely due to an invalid email address.

Hard bounces will bring down your delivery rate and should be removed from your list until you are able to identify the problem with the address (you might be a letter or number off).

Soft bounces: Email messages that are temporarily rejected are considered soft bounces. Soft bounces often occur because of out of office replies.

Your email software will try to redeliver your message at a different time when a soft bounce occurs.

Open rate: The number of people who viewed your email.

Successful emails are in the range of 16-20%. The more well-focused and targeted your email, the higher your open rate.

Click-through rate: Having a subscriber open your email is great, having them take an action and click-through on one of your links is even better.

Whether they click on a social media link, button or image, this action will increase your click-through rate. Successful emails have a click-through rate in the range of 5.1-10% — and it’s because they contain a clear call to action.

Unsubscribes: While nobody wants to lose a subscriber, the inevitable does happen (and no, it doesn’t mean they dislike your business!).

To keep your list healthy, always include an unsubscribe link at the bottom of every email so that your subscribers can opt-out of future emails. A good unsubscribe rate is less than 0.01% per email blast.

There are many reasons why people unsubscribe for emails:

You’re emailing them too often

  • They can’t view your email properly (wasn’t formatted correctly)
  • Your email is too cluttered or looks unprofessional
  • The information isn’t relevant to them anymore
  • You’re always trying to sell them something
  • They receive too many emails in general
  • Aren’t in need of your product/service at the moment

Marked as spam: On a similar note to unsubscribes, marked as spam tells you how many subscribers marked your email as spam.

Ideally, this number would be zero. If someone does mark your email as spam, you’ll know because your email service provider will be in contact with you.

Conversion rate: Tied to a specific action, such as a sign-up or purchase, conversion rates can tell you how successful your emails are after a subscriber clicks on your call to action.

Forward/share rate: Subscribers who forward your email to another email address — or share it on social media — go above and beyond your primary call to action. take a secondary CTA and indicate the content quality.

Forwarding or sharing an email indicates high-quality content.

While your data should dictate your email marketing strategy, using real-time metrics will help your emails be more precise and relevant to your audience. You can always make minor adjustments to email campaigns while they are in-process, which will help you to quickly identify potential delivery problems and performance issues, fixing any problems before it begins.

Begin including email marketing in your local business marketing strategy by understanding the basics. Email marketing can have a strong, positive impact on your marketing strategy — and connect you to consumers any time of day, even while they are on-the-go via their mobile device.

Email marketing should be a part of your overall digital marketing strategy.


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