How To Make The Most Of Email Marketing In Your Small Business

Written on 08 June, 2017 by Donal Stott
Categories Marketing

Email marketing delivers one of the highest ROIs of any digital marketing strategy but, like any marketing strategy, you don’t want to go in blind. Having run dozens of email campaigns for Australian businesses of all sizes, I thought I’d share a few tips and tricks to help you get your email marketing campaign off the ground, and ensure you see real results.


Getting started

There are seven simple steps to getting your email marketing campaign up and running, and while yes, they are simple, the more complex your email marketing campaign is the more technical knowledge and marketing expertise you’ll need to ensure all the pieces are working together.

  1. Create an email list

Obviously to send out marketing emails you need a bunch of email addresses to send to, but creating an email list isn’t as simple as creating an excel document with a thousand email addresses. Your email list, whether it’s in excel or in your CRM system, should be full of as much customer information as possible. At a basic level, you should have email, customer name, customer gender, phone number, business name (for B2B), website (if applicable) and current status (current client/ex client/lead). For more complex marketing options, you could include information like service/product interest, average or reoccurring spend, last purchase date, and any other information that may be important.

  1. Create customer avatars

Successful email marketing campaigns are built on knowing your customers and delivering the right offers and content to each customer type. A great way to do this is to create customer avatars. Customer avatars are stereotypical profiles of your average customers, broken down by age, gender and living situation. You can use these customer avatars to target different needs for different client types. You can find out more about creating customer avatars here.

  1. Segment the list

To target different customer types with personalised emails, you need to go through a process called segmentation. This is basically just dividing your email list by certain classifications, this could include client status, gender, average spend, etc. To make the best use out of segmentation, you need to combine your email list data with your customer avatars to identify different customer types that would be most receptive to different offers or messages.

  1. Establish campaign goal

No marketing campaign should ever go ahead without clearly defined goals. If you don’t do this there’s no way for you to determine or measure success. Whether your goal is to increase sales of a certain product, increase customer retention, or drive up website traffic, ensure you write your goal out before creating your email marketing campaign.

A good goal could be as simple as: “we will gain 20 new customers from our email promotion”.

  1. Outline the campaign

Outlining your email marketing campaign involves drawing out all the emails and mapping all elements of the customer journey. For a simple “blast” email (usually just a single email with only one goal), this can be very easy, but for complex email campaigns, like nurture, lead generation or sales automation campaigns, this can be a time-consuming process. Once your email campaign has been outlined on paper you need to transfer this layout into your email marketing system.

  1. Create content

Once you’ve outlined your email campaign, you need to create the content that goes alongside it. Focus on creating short and sharp content that really speaks to your customer. The average person doesn’t spend much time reading an email, so your content needs to really stand out. Once the content is ready to go. It’s time to press send.

  1. Test and adjust

The real secret to a successful email marketing campaign is constant testing. From A/B subject line testing, to best send times, level of design and even colours used, it’s essential that with every email you send you find out more about what your customers like and don’t like. To successfully test any email element, it’s important to only change one thing at a time, this ensures you get a clear picture of what elements affect open and click through rates.


What you need to do

Creating a successful email marketing campaign comes down to several factors, but if you take into account the three below, you’ll be well set up to get serious ROI from your emails.


Collect all the data you can

Data is the email marketer’s friend. Every single piece of data on your customers and the data collected from past campaigns needs to be combined to create highly targeted and effective emails. When you use this data right, you’ll be able to optimise every element of your emails – from subject lines and content to send times and from addresses – to get the highest open rates and click through rates possible.

Test and refine constantly

Your email marketing campaign can always be improved, and the difference between an average email marketing ROI and a great one will come down to this continuous testing. While this more directly applies to ongoing email automation or lead capture campaigns, blasts email campaigns can also be tested and improved by using the success and failures of previous emails.

Know how to measure success

Understanding what to expect from your email marketing is an important part of running a successful campaign. If you have expectations set too high or too low, you could be torpedoing any chance of actually getting the most out of your campaign. Know what the industry standard for open rates, click through rates, and ROI is for your emails and make beating that your measuring stick. Also, ensure the goal you set for your campaign is actually achievable, otherwise you could throw away a perfectly successful campaign just because it didn’t achieve what you wanted.


What you need to avoid

There are quite a few email marketing pot holes that first-time digital marketers fall into, and at the more egregious end of the spectrum these pot holes could well turn into deep money and productivity pits.


Buying an email list

As an experienced digital marketer, there’s nothing I hate more than working with a bought email list. Not only is it costly and ineffective, but you’re sending emails to people who haven’t given you their details, you might as well be a Nigerian prince looking for help. Buying an email list simply doesn’t work, and a lot of the major service providers, like MailChimp and Campaign Monitor, have made it clear in their terms of use that bought email lists can not be used with their service.

Over sending

An email list is only as good as its members, and there’s no faster way to get people to unsubscribe than by sending a hundred emails a week. Email marketing is about sending emails that get positive responses, and that means creating the right emails for the right customers and delivering them at the right time. Sending constantly is just spam and won’t get any real results at all.

Sending without a goal

As I just mentioned, you need to send emails that get a positive response, and that means each email you create needs to have a clear goal in mind. Never send for the sake of sending, make sure every email has a purpose and measurable goal.


Email marketing is a fantastic option for all sized businesses and creating a customised campaign can really deliver results for your business. While working best as part of a complete content marketing strategy, even single, well thought out emails can get results.

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