An Introduction to Small Business Email Marketing

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What is email marketing?

Most of us use email in our business lives. But most of the email that we send is just to one person, or a small group of people. Email marketing is when a business communicates with a large group of people, usually its existing customer-base, and usually with the intent to sell or to inform.


When to use email marketing

If you’ve ever wanted to send your customers email newsletters, product catalogues, product updates, special offers or company announcements, email marketing is the easy way to do it.

Email marketing allows you to send branded emails that include access to information about your business and its products, and, like any other effective digital marketing campaign, allows you to monitor closely what people are responding to, and adjust your strategy for maximum profit and effectiveness.


Email marketing systems

As with most elements of digital marketing, there are many easy-to-use systems that can be utilised for your business’ email marketing purposes.

The most common ones include SignUp.to, MailChimp, AWeber and Vision6. While there are slight differences between all the systems, most have a free trial period where you can test their features and see what works best for promoting your small business online.

And the fundamentals are the same for each email marketing service platform, too. An account is created, an address where the emails will be sent from is added (which helps verify that these emails are official and come from your business), then a layout is selected and your content is added. You can even upload a list of your email contacts to the system (being mindful of the Spam Act, which we’ll get to below) Then, you hit ‘send’ and the system sends a nicely formatted email out to your contacts. Voila - simple, easy to track email marketing for your small business.


Metrics and monitoring 

One of the biggest benefits of using an email marketing platform is the data you’re privy to after each email is sent.

You can see the following information (and more!) about how your business' email marketing campaign went:

  • How many emails were sent
  • How many emails bounced (incorrect email addresses)
  • How many were opened
  • How long they were opened for (an indication people are ‘reading’ and ‘engaging’ with them)
  • Who opened them (important for understanding your demographics)
  • What the recipients clicked on (articles, offers, links to your website)


From this data, you can see exactly what is working for your specific email campaign, and then optimise it accordingly to fill the holes of what’s not. It's an easy way to constantly improve your small business' digital marketing efforts.


Who can you send an email to?

We all hate getting spam emails – things we didn’t sign up for and we are not interested in.

Luckily, Australia has laws that dictate who you can send emails to, and several other requirements that that must be adhered to when using email marketing for your business.

These are covered in what’s called the Spam Act (2003). In short, though it’s worth your attention at length, these are the things you mustn’t ignore:

  • You must have consent or inferred consent from the person you are sending the email to. If you’re not sure if you have consent, read this.
  • Recipients must be able to unsubscribe easily, and at any time.
  • The sender of the email (your business) must be clearly identified in the email and include contact information (your phone number, street and email address)


There are exceptions to these rules and you can read about them at length, here. Or, you download this guide from ACMA for an easy to understand look at how to apply the rules to your business. Failure to comply with the Spam Act can result in hefty fines to businesses, some up to $1.7 million, so if you’re still in doubt after reading the above links, raise your concerns with your lawyer.


Getting Started: How to create an email newsletter

For many businesses, their first use of email marketing will be to generate a regular newsletter.

It’s good to remind previous customers that your company exists (we all have short term memories!) and showcase to them the latest things you have achieved. Sending regular email newsletters are, of course, perfect for this.


Tips for creating effective email newsletters

  • Create a sending schedule (e.g. send on out monthly, quarterly).
  • Create a calendar to prepare the content for the email newsletter.
  • Select an uncluttered template from your business' email marketing system.
  • If you are linking through to blog posts, write a catchy summary in the newsletter that links through to the full post.
  • Include images and photos that are relevant.
  • Make the subject of the email interesting and inviting! Many companies give their emails subject-lines like, ‘May Newsletter’. This doesn’t really give the recipient any incentive to open it.
  • Make your small business' email newsletter something customers want to open; something that they’re rewarded for devoting their time to. Have your email newsletter link to content on your website, special offers, blog posts but also to videos and other information that you know your customers will find useful.
  • And always adhere to the Spam Act 2003 guidelines: gain your customers’ consent, allow them to unsubscribe, and make it clear from whom it is they’re receiving emails.


Best of luck!