The Complete Guide to Effective Email Marketing Campaigns for Small Businesses


How to build targeted email campaigns that succeed.

Email campaigns work

That’s right. Email campaigns work. They speak one-to-one, don’t cost a lot (or at least, don’t have to), and they can reach millions in moments. No wonder the best email marketing campaigns are celebrated in stories yearafter year (after year).

The best email campaigns produce leads and sales, of course. But there’s another benefit: nurturing. Promotional emails can keep your company top-of-mind with customers as a familiar, friendly and even helpful presence.

So why doesn’t everyone send email all the time? Mostly because starting effective email campaigns can seem daunting to small businesses who haven’t done it before. So let’s look at some common objections to email and how the right software can help you move past them.


1. ‘It takes too much time’

Many small business owners think that writing effective email campaigns will take too much time. They’ve got their hands full just running their daily business.  

The solution: email templates give you a running head start. Most email marketing software includes templates with ideas for layout and messaging, so you don’t have to think everything up from scratch.


2. ‘The learning curve is too steep’

Yes, learning any new application takes time, and email software is no different. But remember, today’s user-friendly software is a lot different from the old days when you needed a Phd to log on.

A quality software provider makes everything as easy as possible. Their apps are user-friendly and upgraded frequently, and they offer plenty of online help and easy access to customer assistance. Look for webinar and video tutorials that show you the basics and get you up and running fast.


3. ‘I don’t know which addresses are still good’

Free email services like Gmail or Outlook are often the accounts people use when signing up for mailing lists. If you’re worried that people abandon these emails after a while, leaving you with emails that go nowhere, you’re right. It happens.

The good news: email marketing software makes it easy to identify and delete invalid emails. This is called list hygiene. You can prune your email list every quarter or as often as necessary to keep it healthy.


4. ‘Is it legal?’

Don’t worry: promotional emails are fully legal as long as you follow a few common-sense rules. The U.S. government has established the CAN-SPAM Act to address the issue of unwanted “spam” emails. The most important requirement is that emails must a way for recipients to opt out of getting any more messages. (That’s the “unsubscribe” link you see at the bottom of nearly every email you receive.) Violators of the CAN-SPAM act can be fined up to $16,000 per improper email, so it’s important to do it right.

Fun fact: spam email is named for an absurdist Monty Python sketch from the 1970s where Vikings sang “SPAM” over and over as a bewildered restaurant patron tried to order a dish without the lunchmeat.


5. ‘Managing email lists is too much work’

If your small business has been using spreadsheets or word processing docs to handle your email campaigns, that is too much work. It doesn’t have to be that way: email marketing software has thorough documentation and other resources that can build out, track and keep your lists organized.


6. ‘I don’t know how to do targeted email campaigns’

The best email marketing campaigns segment their recipients carefully. As much as possible, you want a highly-targeted message, not a one-size-fits-all blast.

So make sure that the email marketing software you choose can divide your contacts into groups based on things like gender, zip codes, or buying patterns. These segments can be used to craft specific messages for each group, and you can also turn them into Facebook updates or new offers based on past behaviors.


7. ‘But isn’t customizing messages hard?’

It’s not that hard. Not if you get help. As noted earlier, your email software should include many template choices to help you speed up the process of customization. You’ll pick a theme or type of email message and then adapt it for your purposes. And with a few clicks you can customize the greeting to address each recipient by name, so they get “Dear Gina” instead of “To whom it may concern.”


8. ‘What do I know about email strategy?’

Small business owners wear many caps. (You know that better than anyone, right?) So you tackle email strategy the way you tackled your first payroll or lunchtime rush: you wade right in and get the help you need.

You can get expert support from a good email marketing software provider. The platform should help you develop strategy and execute the things you need to make the best email marketing campaigns for your small business.

Start small with your first email blasts, so any hiccups will be learning experiences, not major issues. Then you’ll be ready to move up to drip email campaigns, more sophisticated targeting, and all the other features that make effective email campaigns.


Final thought: Don’t forget to measure

Careful measurement of success is a clear hallmark of the best email marketers and the best email campaigns. If you don’t know what works and what doesn’t, how can you work toward better results?

Any good email marketing software will keep tabs on which recipients open your emails and when they open them. Then it will tally how many recipients go further and click on the links or call-to-action buttons in your message. You might discover that five percent of your emails get a response when you offer a coupon for 50% off a first visit, but only one percent get a response when you offer them a free tote bag. You might the opposite response in a different ZIP code.

Be sure to measure what matters to your small business. Is your audience mainly 18-34 years old? Match the language in your emails to that group, and see how it performs with them versus other age groups. A quality email marketing solution will help you track all of this and generate reports that make it easy for you to see what’s working.


Why Keap or Infusionsoft by Keap?

We’ve talked a lot here about email marketing software. That’s our business: We’re dedicated to helping small companies create big-time marketing and build stronger relationships with their customers.  Check out our email marketing features to see how we can help you get your email campaigns humming along.

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