13 email marketing tips to captivate customers and drive sales

9 min read
Stacey Hartman

Today's entrepreneurs have an unprecedented array of opportunities, tools, and services available to showcase their new business, service, or product to a sea of potential consumers. And one of the best tools to accomplish this is email marketing. But, if done incorrectly, email marketing can backfire on a small business. To help you avoid potential pitfalls, we’ve come up with 13 email marketing tips to get you headed in the right direction.

Email marketing for small businesses is about more than sending out masses of emails to get in front of every potential customer out there.

Effective email marketing means keeping your email messages focused and relevant.

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To accomplish this task, there are a few key elements to focus on. Let’s take a look.

13 email marketing tips to bolster your engagement

To help you become an email marketing expert, we’ll be covering these 13 email marketing tips for small businesses:

  1. Write a solid subject line.
  2. Maintain consistent branding.
  3. Provide relevant content.
  4. What to use for preview text.
  5. Choose and use the best images.
  6. Choosing the best links destination.
  7. Personalization.
  8. Integrate with social media.
  9. Avoid spammy content.
  10. Know your target audience.
  11. Pay attention to timing.
  12. Test email effectiveness.
  13. Measure conversion.

Having a more detailed understanding of what email marketing is — and how to do it correctly — is an essential skill for any small business to acquire. Let’s get started.

1. Write a solid subject line

An email subject line is the first handshake with your customers, making it probably the most important aspect of an effective marketing email.

First impressions matter!

Keep subject lines accurate, eye-catching, succinct, and honest. Doing so improves the chances of the email being opened and read.

Use inviting call-to-action words that are relevant to the email’s message. Action words create excitement!

Related: Beginner’s email marketing guide for small businesses

2. Maintain consistent branding

Branding is vital to creating instant recognition of a business or product. Without branding, a business becomes a piece of straw in a haystack instead of a needle. Unique branding sets a company apart from the competition, making it easier for consumers to recognize the brand and search out their products or services.

Being consistent with branding provides consumers with instant recognition and brand confidence, allowing a business to build consumer loyalty.

For a business to generate a lasting brand with a loyal following, it's vital to incorporate professionalism, integrity, and expertise in the brand creation process.

Related: A beginner’s guide to branding your business

3. Provide relevant content

There’s nothing more irritating than opening an email only to find the subject line has nothing to do with the content and the message is a four-page scroll of repetitive hype. Keep content relevant to the subject in a concise and informative manner to keep consumers reading.

Avoid lengthy paragraphs of redundant or repetitive content.

Be clear about what the product or service is and what the email is intended to tell your customers about. It’s a waste of time to spend hours writing an email marketing campaign that is messy and unclear.

Additionally, try your best to keep each email marketing message unique. It’s no big deal if you stick to the same email format, just keep the content unique, informative, and timely.

Remember to include all contact information at the bottom of the email with a link to your website, as well as your business hours, location(s), etc. This gives recipients an easily accessible method of contacting the business with any questions or interests.

Lastly, remember to include an unsubscribe link to allow those who may have received the email by mistake, or who are not interested, to opt out of receiving any further emails.

4. What to use for preview text

Understanding what preview text is and how to use preview text correctly will elevate a small business’s email marketing effectiveness by increasing the odds of emails being opened rather than sent to the spam folder or being deleted without ever being read.

Preview text should contain a brief insight as to the information the reader can expect to find in the email. This is your chance to entice the reader to open the email.

5. Choose and use the best images

A person is sitting at a table working on a laptop with graphical email icons appearing to emanate from the screen, symbolizing digital communication or the sending and receiving of emails. The individual has long hair and is wearing a brown sweater, focusing intently on the task at hand. The room has soft lighting, creating a warm and focused workspace atmosphere.
Credit: Monster Ztudio - stock.adobe.com

Free images may seem cost-effective, but for a business, the images you choose should not be skimped on. Using a paid stock image site tends to be more cost-effective due to the time savings from not spending hours searching for quality free images.

Additionally, paid sites provide a sense of security knowing that you’ve paid for the right to publish the image and there are no potential copyright infringement issues.

Knowing where to place links and the types of links to use to promote cross-traffic is an invaluable skill for a small business marketing email writer.

Links should be relevant to the highlighted text or image.

Links that go directly to mentioned websites or product pages are also acceptable uses for link locations, as long as the link location is either attached to the product or service name, or the location makes sense.

Using links to promote spam is a big no-no and will cause a website to be flagged as a spam site, moving them to the bottom of the SEO results or possibly even being removed from search results entirely.

7. Personalization

One of the biggest email marketing mistakes made is bad email personalization.

It might be quicker to simply blast out an email to several dozen people at a time, but if it looks to be a generic group email blast, chances are the email will never get read and go straight to the trash can.

Double and triple check mailing lists, formulas and templates to assure the correct name goes with the correct email address.

Also, if using the multiple recipient feature, make sure to always use blind carbon copy (BCC) instead of carbon copy (CC) for these types of emails so that the reader does not see a chain of email addresses in the heading. Not only does doing so increase the chances of the email being opened, but it also ensures privacy for each recipient from other recipients.

Related: How to use personalization to increase sales

8. Integrate with social media

Email Marketing Tips Instagram On Smartphone

Create a social media profile for the business that is strictly about your business and related topics.

To personalize or add more depth to the profile, use a blog that chronicles company projects, expansion, employee accomplishments, new services or products, industry news, etc.

Use email marketing to promote your blog and include a link in all of your messages.

Keep personal information and commentaries for family and friends on a personal social media profile. You’ll want to use your business social media links in your email marketing, along with a brief call to action line inviting viewers to check your business out.

Creating social media is a great way to establish a web presence without a full-blown website. Keeping an up-to-date blog increases SEO rankings and visibility and can easily be accomplished on social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.

9. Avoid spammy content

Spamming is a quick way to be placed at the bottom of any search engine results.

Using content that might sound spammy increases the likelihood of the email landing in the junk folder rather than the inbox. To avoid the junk folder, stay on point. Use action language and don’t overhype your content or products.

10. Know your target audience

Marketing to everyone on the planet may seem like a great idea, but it’s much more effective to market to a specific demographic.

For example, if a small brick-and-mortar business advertises everywhere and they only have one office in Tacoma, Washington, it’d be a waste of time to advertise in Denver, Colorado. 

Not knowing your audience costs time and money in the long run, as well as delivers the impression that the company has not done its research, thus lowering consumer confidence in the business or product.

11. Pay attention to timing

You wouldn’t want to start a Christmas marketing campaign in February. Nor would it be helpful to send out an email marketing campaign for a toy that takes two weeks to ship, two days before Christmas.

It’s important to appropriately schedule each email campaign with a purpose.

Examples could include an introduction to a product or service, special holiday coupons, shipping deadlines, etc.

Email marketing should be scheduled and written in a way that ignites anticipation and interest in whatever product or service is being promoted.

12. Test email effectiveness

Testing refers to the use of apps and programs specifically designed to optimize SEO. These tools provide valuable statistics and insights into specific aspects of email text, which can provide businesses of all sizes with usable statistics and analytics to launch an effective email marketing campaign.

Using services such as CoSchedule Headline Analyzer improves search engine results placement by recommending more effective options or confirmation that the current text is effective SEO.

13. Measure conversion

How can a company effectively schedule marketing campaigns if there is no method of tracking campaign results? It’s important to implement a method of tracking for each of your email marketing campaigns to verify which marketing strategies are leading to new clients and ultimately increasing sales.

Without having this information, it’s too easy to place resources and time into less effective strategies.

Having a better understanding of which email marketing campaigns are driving the most business also provides a deeper understanding of the customer demographics and their needs. This understanding allows a business to grow, transition, and modify areas of its business strategies that may not be in line with its actual customer base.

Email marketing tips in a nutshell

Understanding SEO and using it in high-quality email marketing campaigns is an effective and beneficial tool for any business, especially an upstart or small business.

However, it’s vitally important to prepare relevant copy when creating email marketing campaigns to improve sale conversions and avoid being labeled as spam.

Poorly planned marketing campaigns, redundant or badly written content, and spammy-looking email will harm consumer perception and respect for your brand, value, and company as a whole.

Hopefully, these 13 email marketing tips will help you and your business avoid email marketing snares and continue to grow your business.

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