The most cost-effective marketing strategy for small business

7 min read
Lou Clarke

The most cost-effective marketing strategy for any business? That’s easy: email marketing.

In 2016, the ROI on email was $44 for every dollar spent, up from $38 in 2015.

Many businesses do not use email as a promotional tool, which equates to missed customers and lost sales. That’s right! An email marketing strategy can significantly increase your customer base, which leads to an increase in sales.

How to increase sales 101

To start promoting your business via email, you will need a plan. Here’s my curated list of steps so you don’t miss a beat.

  1. Choose your email software.

  2. Create an email signup form.

  3. Map out an email calendar.

  4. Write your first email.

  5. Don’t forget the call to action.

  6. Engage and don’t stop.

Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to more sales.

1. Choose your email software

To connect with your customers via email, you’ll need email marketing software. These programs help you to:

  • Build a list of email addresses the legal and spam-free way.
  • Create and send professional-looking emails.
  • Automate routine messages like welcome and thank-you emails.
  • Track how many people open, click and share your messages.
Marketing Strategy GoDaddy Email Marketing
With GoDaddy Email Marketing, you simply add photos and text to a pre-built template

Look for software that has the features that you will need now and in the future. This way you will not need to change platforms once you have a large following or need additional features.

The features I listed above are great for the beginner to the intermediate user. You also want to be sure your email software:

  • Creates clean, mobile-friendly emails.
  • Has a high delivery rating.

Some email programs don’t have a great delivery rating, which means your emails will land in the recipient’s spam or junk folder and they’ll never even see it. This basically comes down to your provider’s relationships with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and the quality of their authentication tools.

2. Create an email signup form

A signup form is the perfect way to collect emails to add followers and potential customers to your list. After all, you can’t send emails if there’s no one to send them to!

In general it is better to gather your own mailing list than to pay for a list.

Most email software includes a signup form builder to collect email addresses without running afoul of Canada’s Anti Spam Law.

Once created, you embed the form in your website’s home page, on your social media accounts and even in the business emails that you are currently sending out. Don’t worry if your list is slow to grow — even 10 addresses is enough to start sending out promotional emails.

3. Map out an email calendar

This is a great way to make sure that your emails are relevant to the times. For example, maybe you’re planning a New Year’s Day sale, or you want to celebrate Moms for Mother’s Day. Put it on the calendar so you don’t forget.

If you create a calendar of email topics, you will not have any stress when it’s time to write your emails.

The calendar will also help you to keep track of what information you sent out when. No double- sharing for you.

The question of frequency

When building your calendar, you need to decide how often you are going to email your contacts. Make sure that you are consistent with your emails.

Some marketers say the best day to email is Tuesday in the second or third week of the month.

For example, maybe you are going to email your contact list on the fourth Wednesday of every month. Maybe you are going to email every Tuesday. There is no perfect timeline or days to email. Experiment with different frequencies and see what kind of response you get.

Once you land on a schedule that gets a good response, stick with it. Want more tips? Read this post for more on finding the scheduling sweet spot.

4. Write your first email

Your customers want to hear from you — otherwise, they wouldn’t have signed up for emails. They want to know what is going on in your business, what deals or specials you might be running, new items or services you are showcasing. They might even want to learn more about you and your staff.

Pay special attention to your email Subject line.

Because your customers receive so many emails, you need to make your email enticing to open. This starts with an amazing Subject line. After all, this is the first thing they see. If readers aren’t wowed by your Subject line, they won’t open your message. So the goal is to create a Subject line that they cannot resist opening. Learn how its done here.

Keep the body of your email brief and focused on the reader and how you can help them … get more done, be more healthy, find the perfect gift — whatever relates to your business and products or services.

Related: Increase email response with marketing segmentation

5. Don’t forget the call to action

Every email should include an opportunity for the reader to take the next step. This could be a Buy Now button, a Download Your Free MP3 link or a phone number for them to call.

When creating a call to action, remember that it normally takes many touch points before someone will purchase from you. So you might not want to push for a sale in your first email or two.

Marketing Strategy Man Clicking Mouse
Every email should urge readers to take an action — order now, watch this video, etc.
Photo: MARVIN TOLENTINO on Unsplash

However, you could offer a:

  • Downloadable freebie or a sample they receive in the mail.
  • Coupon or a helpful checklist related to the type of business services you provide.
  • A link to something of interest on your website or a timely blog post.

Either way, every email should have some sort of a call to action so that your email readers can engage with you longer and more often. Check out this article for more about the call to action.

6. Engage and don’t stop

It is one thing to create an email list and fill it with amazing, interested people. It is a completely different thing to continue to service, educate and support the people on your email list over months or even years. But this is how to increase sales.

Follow-through and follow-up are by far the most important ingredients in email marketing success.

If you have a list of amazing people and you are not emailing them regularly, they will eventually forget about you. So, you need to think long and hard about whether an email marketing strategy is right for you and your business.

If you only use one marketing strategy, make it email

An email marketing strategy can revolutionize your business. It’s one of the most cost-effective answers to the question of how to increase sales. It simply takes a great email tool, as well as time to create and publish your emails. But make no mistake, email marketing is by far one of the most cost-effective ways for Canadian businesses to grow and prosper.