Key Takeaways:

Email marketing is a low-risk, high-reward strategy to initiate customer relationships and generate sales.

Email is one of the cheapest forms of marketing for small businesses. Research shows that direct mail costs 100 times more than email marketing. Emails are also much more manageable when done right. This guide to basic email automation will set small businesses up for success and sales in the short and long run. 

The first step in developing an email marketing strategy is to collect emails. Though it seems daunting, there are some easy methods to find email addresses. Social media is a great place to start. Post that your business is creating a newsletter with exclusive content, deals, or contests, then offer people a way to securely send you their contact info (for example, emailing you, google forms, etc.). You can also join Facebook or LinkedIn groups relevant to your business and gather email addresses through offering deals. Another great way to collect email addresses is at live events. If you are in an area where it is safe to attend live events, take your products and go! All it takes is a few free samples, and you'll have an email list in no time. Farmer's markets, college campuses, or community boards in coffee shops are accessible places to get the word out about your products.

Of course, the number one place to gather email addresses is your website. If you don't have a website yet, don't worry, this can come later. But for entrepreneurs who already have a website up and running, make it easy for visitors to join your email list. Email lists do not have to be extensive. Start small, and your newsletter will grow with your business.

Once you have your emails ready, it is time to choose an automation website. These websites can help you construct professionally polished emails sent directly to customers with little hassle. Top email automation platforms include Mailchimp, HubSpot, Zoho Campaigns, and Sendinblue. Most of these services offer free or cheap plans for small businesses. While you could send emails without an automation service, it is harder to customize and segment your contacts. 

Segmentation and customization involve dividing your email list into categories and individuals. This strategy enables you to get the right message to the right audience. Suppose you sell hair care products. The average person uses one bottle of shampoo every two months. With an email automation service, you ensure that they will get an email to buy again two months after a their purchase of your shampoo! In this scenario, you can also determine those who use male or female products, those who buy accessories, and those who don't, along with any other information you'd like to track. Ultimately, segmentation and customization lead to more targeted messages and more sales.

Clean, clean, clean! Data can be a diamond in the rough if organized correctly. Eliminating contacts who never engage with your emails may be painful, but it is necessary to ensure your data is relevant and still serving your business. It takes 10-20 minutes a week for small businesses to segment, add, and delete emails. A clean email list is coveted among companies, and starting with a clean email list gives you an advantage! 

Last but most importantly, make emails valuable. Many people regret giving companies their contact information because they constantly receive spam or useless information. This situation is avoidable by sending helpful information like how-to videos, links to recent studies, and new deals or products on your website. They signed up to learn more, so give them more! 

Email marketing can be daunting, but don't be afraid to try it. It is a low-risk, high-reward method of communicating and selling. Collect, customize, and clean. Stay in touch with your customers through email so that they will stay in touch with you through sales.

May 20, 2022
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