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Small businesses can increase their customer acquisition and retention through strategic email marketing campaigns. Acquiring emails for your marketing lists is an important step in successful email marketing, as we looked at in part one. But, email acquisition is only half the battle. Understanding how to properly utilize your email lists is another challenge of its own.

In this second part, we’ll discuss how small businesses can leverage email lists.  

Send an Effective Welcome Email

First impressions are incredibly important, especially in the business world. When a new subscriber or customer receives your first email, you can bet that they are judging the style, content and language of that initial email interaction. Push too hard, and they may mark you as spam; use irrelevant information, and they may unsubscribe; try to be too edgy, and you could leave a bad taste in their mouth. Thus, it’s critical to spend time formulating your welcome email.

Some things to remember with your welcome email are:

  1. Customize to the opt-in form: An important question to consider with your automated welcome emails is “Why did this person join?” The answer to this question should dictate the email they receive. If you have an opt-in form for a 20% discount on a first purchase, then that initial email better have that 20% discount inside. If you’re creating an e-book or white paper, then that welcome email should include the gated content. Too many small businesses dump every subscriber into an all-encompassing list that sends an automated, generic welcome email.  
  2. Reiterate who you are and why they should care: If your customers are anything like me, then their inbox is inundated with daily emails. It’s important that you draw their attention with a reminder of who you are and the benefits you provide. Make sure your business name is the name attached to the email, include language in a headline that reinforces your value and sells the benefits of being on your email list. Do you include weekly coupons? Do you release monthly white papers?
  3. Send immediately: This is a simple tip, but still very important. In fact, roughly 75% of marketers send their welcome email immediately after the subscriber register. The longer it takes you to send your welcome email, the less likely that subscriber is to remember you.
  4. Be unique: This is the first email interaction with the subscriber. It can make or break their opinion of your brand. Make sure the language, branding and content is an extension of your company. If you have a unique and creative voice, reflect that in all your welcome emails. Don’t be afraid to try new things. You can, and should, test different welcome emails to see which garner the best open rates, click-throughs, replies, etc.  

Segment Your Lists

As we mentioned earlier, a lot of businesses dump all contacts into one, unfiltered email list. They send the same email to the entire list of subscribers, without any distinction. This is a poor strategic choice and one that can end up costing your business a lot of valuable subscribers.

List segmentation is the process of dividing your email lists into groups based on variables like interests, purchase history or demographics. It’s an easy way to increase opens, clicks, engagement and customization. There are an endless amount of segmentation possibilities, and each business will have their own unique segments.

However, some basic groups to consider are:

  • Current customers (loyal vs casual)
  • Former customers (lost)
  • Potential customers (by service/product)
  • Geography (local/regional/national)

Provide Unique, High-Quality Information

If there is one tip that you take away from this article, creating unique, high-quality content in your emails should be it. If you can learn to think of email marketing as an extension of your website or blog, then you’ll quickly realize how valuable this medium is from a content standpoint. Businesses are fighting to position themselves as thought leaders on a variety of different platforms. Some invest heavily into Facebook, others Twitter, many others spend countless dollars creating content on their website in an effort to attract an audience away from media sites or other competitors.

However, email is a completely underutilized medium for thought leadership opportunities. Consider releasing exclusive articles in email format for the subscribers who joined for your blog, white papers, webinars, etc. It’s a less noisy medium and can help you better position your business as a thought leader.

Make Your Emails Mobile-Friendly

Email Monday says that about 55% of emails are opened on mobile devices. This trend will only continue, as mobile phones become more integrated into our daily lives. As you probably expect, the younger demographics tend to have a higher likelihood to open emails on mobile devices. Thus, the younger your target audience, the more important it is to have a mobile-friendly email. Most email marketing tools, like MailChimp or Constant Contact, have mobile-ready templates that you can use for your emails.

Also note, most mobile devices cut the subject lines after 30 characters, so it’s important that you learn how to write concise and effective headlines. Finally, optimize the “from name” that accompanies your emails. If your email is a generic blast, you’ll probably want to just use your brand name. However, if you’re sending an email to a specific segment, you may want to personalize exactly where that email is coming from.

Email marketing is a critical part of the success of small businesses. The more time and effort that you put into your email lists and subsequent email campaigns, the more likely your business is to reap the rewards.