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7 Email Marketing Secrets for Your Small Business

blog 8.27

Email is one of those things on our marketing to-do list that can make you wonder if you really should be doing it.

When we’re so focused on streamlining our email, getting to inbox zero, and moving our collaboration to tools like Basecamp or Slack, is there still a place for email?


Email isn’t going anywhere. Email is currently used by over half the world’s population, and according to McKinsey & Company, email conversion rates are three times higher than social media.

While you may personally be SO over email, not everyone else is. And if you’re going to spend time marketing at all, your email marketing absolutely needs to be in the mix. Sure, you can focus on social networks, but you’re building on someone else’s network, you don’t own the data and most of all, social networks come and go. (Remember MySpace?)

But if you’re going to “do” email marketing, you need to do it in a way that’s actually going to help you get results. The inbox is a competitive place, so if you’re going to show up there, you need to bring your A game.

Here are 7 pro email marketing secrets to help you create the kind of email marketing that sets you apart in the inbox:

#1. Your Opt-In Gift Solves a Real Problem

Quizzes, guides and checklists, oh my! There’s no shortage of freebies for people to sign up for on the Internet as they go about their day. But if you want your offer to be the one that seduces someone into handing over their precious email address, you need to offer something that solves a real problem they’re having.

When you go to create your opt-in gift, take the time to dive into what your audience really and truly needs, not just what’s easy for you to create. Spending time upfront to create something of value will help you connect with the right audience and help you build your list that much faster.

#2. You Don’t Love Em’ and Leave Em’

Truthfully, my biggest pet peeve is when I sign up for someone’s email list and then don’t hear from them until they have something to sell me. At the point that someone has raised their hand and signed up for your email list, you want to ensure that you’re going to continue to give them some time and attention.

This is where creating an email autoresponder – or as I like to call it, an orientation sequence – comes in. After you deliver your opt-in gift, you need a series of emails to help your new subscribers turn into part of your community by building the know, like and trust factor.

#3. You Show Up On Time Every Single Week

Email marketing thrives on consistency. Even if the idea of a schedule feels completely stifling to you, when it comes to your email it’s a must. Start by picking a set date and time each week that you’ll send out your emails.

We are all creatures of habit, and with email over time your readers will come to expect you in their inbox on a certain day. And that consistent delivery of quality content helps to breed brand recognition, familiarity with your content and, most of all, trust in what your business has to offer.  You may need to miss a week here or there, but setting a schedule and sticking to it is a must.

#4. Have a Good Opening Line

When your inbox is jammed full of messages, what do you do? You skim it, reading the senders and the subject lines. So to get your email opened, spend some time crafting your subject line.

Think of your subject line as the headline for your email: you need something that’s going to elicit interest and make someone pause as they skim their inbox.

Not sure where to start? First of all, keep is short. 50 characters or less is ideal. From there, play with personalization, urgency, asking questions, sharing benefits and more.

#5. Email is a Conversation

Hey you, boring email marketer. Cut it out or I’m going to delete you. And here we go, time to unsubscribe!

That’s exactly how things roll in my inbox. If I invite you into my inbox (aka my digital house), you owe it to me to not bore the crap out of me.

Email is a conversation. Show personality, speak to your reader on a one-to-one basis, and avoid the kiss of death – corporate speak!

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#6. Exercise the 80/20 Rule

You may have heard the saying “the money is in the list,” but as I’ve explained in this post, it’s only in the list if you’re a good list host. And part of that deal is not abusing your list with an endless stream of promotional emails.

A good rule of thumb is to focus on delivering value-added, no strings attached content 80% of the time, and then only promoting 20% of the time. Let’s say you send an email every week of the year. That’s a total of 52 emails. With that in mind, you’d only be promoting to that same group in 10 of those emails. (I’m not counting launch specific emails here – that’s a whole different beast!)

#7. Learn What Your Readers Want

Unlike some other parts of our marketing that we can’t easily measure (podcast subscriber numbers, I’m looking at you), email marketing gives us a gold mine of data to work with. By keeping an eye on and analyzing this data, we can learn what our readers want more of from us.

Start by looking at your open rates. Is your open rate in line with what’s typical in your industry? (Check out this handy chart from MailChimp here.) Then look at your last 5 or 10 emails. What’s your open rate on each one? Which ones did better than others?

Then, if you want to take it up a notch, look at your click-through rate (CTR). What links are people clicking on in your emails? Are they going on to read your blog post, or check out your new service? Watch for trends over time with your CTR so you can continuously tweak your email content.

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Use these 7 secrets to help make the most of your email marketing so you can deliver content that connects and converts into results for your business.