Posts in email marketing
Six data-driven tips for stronger email performance

Email marketing makes small business better. In fact, it surprises me how little emphasis a lot of business owners put on growing an email list and sending that list regular emails. I think many entrepreneurs get distracted by the attractional qualities of their website, social media and ads, and neglect to recognize the conversion power of a strong email marketing play. 

small business email marketing

Anyway, getting off my soapbox, because this blog is for the business owners who get email and want to strengthen their email marketing game. How do we make our emails more effective? We listen to what the data tells us.

Some of this will probably surprise you - data doesn’t always back up our preferences and untested opinions - so if any of these tips make you go, hmmm, really? I’d love to know why in the comments.

Here are a few ways to make your emails better:

Run your subject line through a subject line checker 

This one is easy-peasy and if you do anything differently after reading this blog, it should be this. Subject lines are critical to getting email opens and earning interest at first glance, so make sure they pass the test. I use this one but there are others you can find through a simple search. The subject line checker may not always feel human but it’ll help you compare options and learn what is preferable to a general audience. Or, it may simply give you confidence in a subject line you already know is strong.

Use emojis, first names and text-only

Okay, so this is a three-in-one tip and may not hold true for long as trends change, but the data shows emojis in subject lines get higher open rates, using someone’s first name in the greeting is gold and images at the top of the email deter readers. Yes, images may look nice in an email but audience behavior indicates it can have a negative effect. I think it’s because email is still a medium where text is expected and reigns supreme. When someone gets an email, they’re thinking; okay, just tell me what you can do for me. They’re not as likely to have patience for scrolling past a pretty picture to see what you want to tell them. This isn’t Pinterest or Instagram.

Send emails on these optimal days

Most reports I’ve found show the middle of the week being the best time to email. Some even get more specific and cite Tuesdays, but I’ve personally found Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays to work just as well. In fact, I use this incredibly handy top performing email dates calendar by Worlddata.com to schedule emails at optimal times. Generally, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday beat the other days of the week, but there are factors that impact this on the regular. Holidays, seasonal events like summer vacations and back to school, audience culture, and big news days can all shift where people’s attention is and if it’s on their inbox or not. The best way for you to nail down your optimal times is to experiment with different times of the week and see what’s working best over time. 

Send emails at these optimal times

Most email marketing gurus recommend sending first thing in the morning or around lunch time which are both times that have worked well for me. Since emails are usually more content-heavy than social posts and often ask for the reader to continue exploring whatever it is they’re teasing such as a blog or website, you have to get it in front of your audience when they’re on their computer or phone and can spend a few minutes reading and following the trail you’ve set - usually during work or productivity hours. This is a different strategy than social. 

Make it mobile-friendly

This article on Hubspot says emails that display incorrectly on mobile may be deleted within three seconds. I gotta be honest, this part drives me nuts. Although digital marketing data screams at us to make everything better for mobile screens, many website and email platforms still have a ways to go. It may take a little extra time but do what you can to make your emails show up nicely on a phone. And pay attention to how much scrolling a phone user will have to do to get to any calls to action. What may seem accessible on a laptop or desktop screen is going to land in an entirely different location on a phone. 

Spend 15 minutes looking at your previous 6 email reports

Over time, your audience will tell you what works best for them. If you’re using a platform like MailChimp, Constant Contact, MailerLite, etc., to send emails, you have a goldmine of data reports to show you what’s working and what’s not for your audience. For the stronger open and click rates, take note of the strength of the subject line and the day and time you sent them. These three factors can make a world of difference once you pinpoint what is consistently performing well. 

Of course, if the content of your emails isn’t helpful or interesting to your readers, none of these tips will help. Ready for a professionally written email campaign that works? Schedule a free strategy session with me.

Four ways to automate your small business marketing

When I speak with small business owners, their main issue is not creativity, know-how or desire to run an effective marketing strategy. Their issue is time.

Great small business marketing takes time and many preferred marketing methods like emails and social media can start to feel like full-time jobs if you’re doing them right. Every effective email and social post requires thought, planning, writing, art and learning from the results. An effective marketing campaign requires all of this ten-fold across the weeks. Who has time for that when your actual business is not to do small business marketing!?

small business marketing automation

Here's a tip to help you get a handle on time-consuming marketing so you can give yourself some hours back: Automate. Putting as much as possible on auto pilot is a SAVING GRACE for us business owners. Here are my favorite ways to automate small business marketing:

1. Website pop-up. Get emails added to your list while you're sleeping. Most website platforms have a way to add a pop-up or announcement bar. If not, there are opt-in services you can add to your website (just search website opt-ins or website pop-ups). Come up with a great reason for a visitor to give you their email and tease it using a pop-up. Try a few different ideas and see which works the best, then stick with that for a while. Need ideas for what to use? Here are a few.

2. A Google listing. Random? Maybe. SEO savvy? Absolutely. Create a simple Google listing for your business that connects to your website and includes basic business info. This is especially important if you're a local business trying to sell to your own community. Having a presence on Google helps validate your business and is an SEO enhancement. Create a Google account or use the one you have and get that listing up and running with all the proper info.

3. Email campaigns. Ya'll know I love my email campaigns. Even if you only have 50 people on your email list, start emailing them! Writing and automating emails takes some work upfront, but it's soooooo worth it a couple months down the road when you're cultivating your community and pushing sales without lifting a finger. Hit me up if you’d like to learn how I create email campaigns for my entrepreneur clientele.

4. Marketing plan. Okay, so this may not seem to entirely fit into set-it-and-forget-it automation, but it actually comes close if you do it right. Many of the small business owners I work with don’t have the budget to hire someone like me to run their marketing full-time, but they do realize a professional plan can save them hours of time each month. The plans I create show the entrepreneur what to post and when week by week - saving them from the constant “uh, what should I post now?” or “crap, I probably need to send an email for that new service” or “shoot, I just spent an hour stressing about a Facebook caption”. A customized marketing plan can truly revolutionize a business owner’s life. Check out my customized marketing plans in the add-on section of my services list to see what options I offer.

I’d love to know how you’re automating your marketing, or if you’re planning to try any of the options I mentioned here. Leave a comment to share your marketing automation experience!

Why email marketing should be a cornerstone of your marketing strategy

Emails are my favorite marketing strategy. If you follow me on Insta, you’ll know how frequently I nerd out about emails. Especially directly following a social media outage (insert eye roll). If you’ve been a client of mine, you’ll also know I almost always add an email strategy to my services because, well, here are all the reasons why:

small business email marketing

No dodging the algorithm!

Emails are MUCH more likely to get your message to the part of your audience that's ready to buy. This is HUGE. It's a gamble when you post on social media or run online ads - will they see it? Will they see it enough to convert to a buyer? With emails, you're putting that direct connection right into an inbox. No algorithm to fight. When you’re concerned your message isn’t getting through a well timed, well crafted email can confirm you’re getting communication to the right people. Whether they choose to open it, read it or take you up on your offer is up to your audience, but you will know you’ve done your part in getting your offer as in front of their eyeballs as you can.

The happy medium of messaging

Emails can give just enough info without demanding too much time from your fans. A couple paragraphs of great advice or a few steps to success and they'll be hooked and appreciative. It's the happy medium between super short social posts that are difficult to craft and more lengthy blogs that take time and regular updating (if you want to stay SEO’d). Now, I’ve had a lot of practice writing emails - both for my business and slews of campaigns for the corporate job, but my weekly email only takes me about 30 minutes tops to write, refine, link check and schedule in MailChimp.

Automate that sucker

Emails can be AUTOMATED. Oh sweet goodness, this is the BEST part. I personally use MailChimp to schedule them and it's a time and life saver. I can create several at once, schedule and done. Or, if I feel the content needs to be extra fresh - say I’m promoting a monthly giveaway or a recent blog post - I can put it together and schedule to send that day. Today’s email platforms are versatile and offer tremendous convenience for set-it-and-forget-it marketing.

Oh, hey, I can just click right here. How convenient!

Emails help the user take immediate action. With social, you're always "link in profiling-it" - so annoying! That extra step your fans have to take to get to your website, blog or video link is actually a huge downside to the effectiveness of marketing. For every step required, the audience is more likely to bail and not move forward. With emails, you can link directly in the body copy and reduce the amount of steps your readers have to take to find your services or product or blog or video or whatever it is you're promoting. Or, add a fancy button to really grab their attention and encourage a click through.

It’s free!

For a small business with a few hundred people on your email list, you can get by doing emailing for free. Even a growing business with larger lists to manage can still keep email marketing very affordable. In fact, the first thing I recommend to an entrepreneur looking for a simple, no cost marketing plan is weekly or bi-weekly emails. There are other free ways to market, sure, but the amount of time most other methods take compared to half an hour a week on a great email that gets right in front of your audience makes this marketing tool a no brainer.

I hope I've convinced you to join my club as an email marketing lover! If you need help getting your email strategy off the ground, it's one of my favorite offerings. Check out my services list including pricing for full campaigns and one-off email creation.

Five email list builders that WORK

I love working with entrepreneurs who understand how important it is to build their email list and send emails on the regular. I often get asked how someone can entice a website visitor or social media follower to drop their email in exchange for something of value. There are a gajillion ways you can do this but here are a few that have worked well for me.

email list

Checklists

My audience devours these. I guess because when you’re slammed trying to parent, build a business, keep up with the chores, manage your time well and feel productive, a good checklist comes in handy.

I love to boil my advice down to actionable lists that are easy for someone else to apply to their life. If you’re familiar with Adobe Acrobat or Canva, these are pretty simple to make. If you want to make a big splash by promoting/advertising the list on social, you may want to hire a graphic designer to turn it into serious eye candy. If you’re looking for ideas, refer to your social posts or blog posts for inspiration on what you can break down into steps.

Free consultations

I’ve called these by different names before - a website audit, a strategy session, a content coaching session but essentially they’re all just a specific type of consultation. I’ve had a lot of interest when I offer these. Just be sure you can actually afford to give your time away with these types of opt-ins as they can really drain the clock. I like to put a limit on openings to prevent from over extending my time investment. These offers are probably the most effective for me in building my email list, and have often provided a no-pressure, soft introduction to a new client.

Referral incentives

I offer the deepest discounts to those who refer me. Referrals are gold so it’s worth it to put an attractive offer on them. I typically ask my current email list for referrals and a nice percentage off certain services in return. For these, you’ll want to make sure you give instructions on how the follower can get the referral incentive. For example, make sure you explain; forward this link to a friend and get 20% off such-and-such when they purchase. Just telling people to give you referrals without clear instructions will only make them wish they knew how.

Quizzes

I recently added a quiz to my site and it’s been very well received. Quizzes are kind of irresistible when they’re presented as a fun way to get great info, guidance or a silly, unexpected answer. Simply search Google for a quiz platform and you’ll find plenty to choose from that are created to help build your email list, many of which have free versions.

Access to free trainings

I give out a lot of free advice via social media, my emails and this blog but I am careful to save more in-depth training for those who give me their email or join my Facebook page. Want to get more instruction from me on a topic? You’re going to need to at least opt-in or join a page for that.

Sites like teachable.com are great for hosting educational videos, you can use a Facebook page for live videos (they save on the page so your followers can always view the content later) or upload to YouTube, make the link private and ask for email addresses in exchange for the private link. These are all ways you can become everyone’s favorite free advice giver.

Okay now your turn! I’d love to know what email opt-ins and list building ideas have worked best for you! Leave your comment below! Oh, and if you’d like to be on my email list to see what goodies my favorites get, email me to let me know.

How to write better email subject lines

This is one of the topics that resonates the most with my audience. Email subject lines are TRICKY to get right. And they have incredible power over whether your email gets opened or unsubscribed to. Yikes, no pressure! There’s a way to approach subject lines that takes practice and tremendous intentionality. First, watch the video. Then I’ll elaborate.

I often write a placeholder email subject line at first because I’m really weird about doing things in order. And I usually have an idea of what the theme of the email is going to be. But I almost ALWAYS come back to the subject line and study it very hard before committing. And, if you’re approaching your marketing writing properly, you’ll give everything - including the few words of a subject line - some time to marinate before committing.

After writing out the email, I’ll look through the content and intentionally put myself in the shoes of my perfect customer. What in this email is really beneficial to her? What would she need out of this the most? Of course, hopefully there are multiple values I’m providing in every email - see my Facebook live on how I put my marketing emails together - but there’s usually one thing that your best fans will grab onto. That’s the point you want to tease out in a subject line. It’s an art, I know. It takes practice. As everything in marketing goes, you will get it wrong as much as you get it right - but this approach will help. And it will train you in finding the point that will resonate with your audience in all of your marketing content.

If you found this helpful or are curious about making your emails, including subject lines, more effective, I’d love to read your comment below! Thanks for reading, friend :)