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7 Email Marketing Best Practices for Small Businesses

Not all small business email campaigns are created equal. Many small business owners fall into a couple of traps when it comes to using their email list as a marketing tool. Not emailing enough, not providing value, or even incurring fines because you violate opt-out regulations are among the common pitfalls that make your email campaigns unsuccessful.

Incentivize Signups

Make signing up for your email list easy and worthwhile by offering a simple signup module on your website. You can also add a link to sign up for your emails to your social media posts. It’s not enough, however, to simply say, “Sign up for email alerts!” because during any one day, your customers probably receive more than 20 different emails from various businesses.

If you offer an incentive for signing up for the email list, such as a discount off their next purchase, you’ll get more signups. Getting customers signed up is the first challenge – keeping them signed up is another.

Ensure You’re in Compliance with Regulations

Make sure that your emails have an option for customers to unsubscribe. If you don’t, you could be noncompliant with marketing regulations, such as the CAN-SPAM Act. This law requires all marketing emails to contain a link to unsubscribe from future emails, and all opt-out requests must be processed within 10 days.

If you don’t have these in place and follow the guidelines, then you can receive fines or other sanctions. Very small businesses may be able to manually process unsubscribe requests, but as your business grows, it’s better to invest in an automated email client that can add new users and ensure that opt-out requests are handled promptly.

Analyze User Data

Understanding what your email users are doing is important for analyzing the success of different types of emails. Some email campaigns are advertising, such as promotion of a large sale coming up, whereas others may offer an incentive or provide a sneak peek at new items or services. Another type of email can be more informative, giving information related to your business, such as tax tips or fun projects to do at home, depending on your type of business.

Determining which users open and read your emails, who deletes them out of hand, who forwards them to friends, and who clicks on the links in your emails (such as a link to a sale preview or to download a coupon) can give you valuable insight about what works and what doesn’t.

Integrate with Social Media

Add links to your company’s social media accounts at the bottom of your emails, giving them different platforms to follow you on. Or you can advertise links to your email subscription list (and incentives) in your social media accounts. Giving customers a variety of ways to share on multiple platforms extends your exposure and keeps your brand fresh in people’s minds.

Keep It Brief

Most people typically skim your emails, so make sure that what you’re sending is brief and to the point. Use layouts with eye-catching headers to make it easier for customers to rapidly absorb the relevant points. Using certain keywords, which you can find with a Google Analytics tool, throughout your emails will also help you stand out.

If your emails are too long, your customers may miss the information you want them to see, simply delete halfway through, or unsubscribe completely.

Keep Them Frequent

Though you don’t want to flood your email subscribers with lengthy emails, you also don’t want your messages to be so infrequent that they forget about you. Sending an email every few days, concise and with a single message, keeps you fresh in their minds when they’re ready to buy.

These gentle reminders, especially ones with photos, make sure that your company is present in your customer’s lives. Otherwise, you may leave a void for competitors to fill.

Give Your Subscribers Value

Make sure that your emails are opened instead of deleted by adding value to the content. Although we’ve urged you to send frequent emails, make sure that you’re offering something of substance; otherwise, you’ll lose subscribers.

You can use your email client to track the types of emails and the frequency with which you send them, alternating between promotional, incentive (coupon), and informational content. This keeps your company in the forefront of their minds but gives them a bit of variety from your emails.


Email marketing can be a powerful, relatively inexpensive tool for growing your small business and engaging with your customers. When done wrong, it may just end up as spam. Done right, however, you can grant readers access to valuable discounts, insight into your business, or ways to enhance their lives. This can gain you customers for life.

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Written by BBB Staff

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