9 Ways to Win the Small Business Email Revolution

9 Ways to Win the Small Business Email Revolution

By Victoria Milner

Between work and personal email, I receive 200 to 300 emails on average every day, and I doubt that I am unusual.  Email provides a relatively inexpensive way for small businesses to stay connected to customers and prospects to keep the relationship fresh and, if possible, personal. 

The destination for emails is now a moving target.  The inbox on your desktop is now also the inbox on your phone and tablet.  Just a few = years ago less than 20% of all emails were opened on a phone.  This year that number passed 50%. One-third of all emails are opened on an Apple iPhone with Outlook declining to only 6% of all email opens.   That means that:

·       Your email better be built responsively.   A static email that looks good on a desktop or laptop will not render correctly on a cell phone or tablet.  Emails now need to be optimized for a variety of smaller screens.

·       Your email better be worth opening. Think about the times you check your mail on your phone.  Are you at a red light?  In a store?  On a conference call or in a meeting? You glance at your emails and if nothing compels you to take a second look you ignore or delete it. Either way, that email is headed to never-never land.


Here are nine ways to make your emails worth a second look:

1.     Say something that is of interest to specific segments of recipients. 
All leads are not created equal.  Targeting your message to your list can be key not only to getting your message read, but to getting your prospect to respond.  It can be a better investment to send less emails and drive a higher response rate.

2.     Make sure your content is of value to the reader. 
What are you offering besides a sales pitch?  Is there information that the reader can use?  Be of value to your clients and prospects and they will be more apt to open future messages (and take action on them).

3.     Do not treat email like direct mail. 
Avoid the temptation to stuff too much content into an email.  Use attention-getting headlines and subheads, and move the details to a “click through to” landing page with your phone number and/or online ordering information.

4.     Don’t bury your call to action. 
The call to action needs to be clear, bold and easy to find.  Placing a phone number near the top of the message allows the mobile reader to touch the number and immediately call to order.  Bury the number in the bottom of that email and they may never get that far.

5.     Personalize whenever possible. 
Use the customer’s name in the subject line or even in the email copy if that works. Personalization goes beyond the use of a client or prospect name.  Consider using graphics that appeal to the target and the message.  Use the geography of the target base by using place names and images.  Reach out and grab their attention.

6.     Test your messages and creative.
Simple A/B testing can help you to create a cycle of continous improvement.  Group A gets creative 1, Group B gets creative 2.  The winner goes out in the next round against a new contender.  Continue to push for better opens, better sales, and happier customers.

7.     Measure your results and measure them again.  
Look for trends based on time of day, day of week, and time of year.  Learn the best times to reach out to your targets.

8.     Try animated images.
You need the reader’s attention in order to get the message across. Using a gif at the top of the email provides movement that can be attention getting. 

9.     Last but absolutely not least: Pay close attention to your subject line.
I have already mentioned using the prospect or client’s name in the subject line. Avoid use of “spam” words like Free and Save.  Instead, intrigue the reader by hinting at the content to come while still staying in line with the email content. 


And there is more to come: Automation is on the horizon and drawing nearer.  Automated marketing creates an opportunity for greater personalization and stronger relationships.  Using adaptive and rules based live content allows campaigns to become smarter and more relevant to each recipient.

Automation also generates additional useful data to drive your campaigns. Responses to your message generate a knowledge base of deep dive analytics that help create profiles for your products and services and allow you to look for prospects that match your best customers.

No more one-size-fits-all.  Live content and intelligent capabilities make email an even more effective and a more agile channel for communications.  Welcome to the small business email revolution—which could be a bigger marketing revolution.