Market your business through email #LikeABoss

Follow these steps to create emails your customers will love

by AT&T Business Editorial Team

Email marketing: It’s probably been on your to-do list since the beginning of time (that’s a roundabout guess). And that’s because as a small business owner, you’ve got to focus on the more important stuff, like posting to social media regularly and generally doing about five different jobs—all at the same time. It’s almost as if there’s too much information out there for you to get started, and no place that gives you the information you need to start crafting emails today.

Below you’ll find information that will hopefully act as a catalyst between “to-do” and “done”. (For email marketing, at least.) And if you already consider yourself an email pro, check out the last section that offers advanced tips. In the end, you should be able to connect with customers in a compelling way, thanks to this cost-effective medium.

Build your email marketing toolkit

You can’t put together your new piece of furniture without some sort of screwdriver, right? This same idea applies to emails—but these tools will do a lot of the hard work for you, which means less strife than traditional at-home projects.

First, you need a list. Otherwise, you won’t be sending your emails to, well, anyone. You can build one through different channels, such as an in-store signup at the register, asking your social audience to sign up, offering an email opt-in at online checkout or a simple prompt on your business’ website.

Then, find an email service compatible to you and your business. Many are available at a low cost, and some are even free. If you’re just starting out, find one that will help you manage your audience list, design your templates, and even offer some data and recommendations for you.  

The last piece to add to your toolkit is a little bit of knowledge.Knowing CAN-SPAM regulations can help you ensure your email doesn’t end up in the dreaded Junk folder or worse--violate the law.

Structure your emails for maximum impact

Now it’s time for the fun part—actually making your email. Simplicity is your friend here, in your general message or reason for sending the email, in the design and in the copy. Purpose – Your email should have a clear one. Make sure you carry that over to your subject line too, which will increase your open rate. One idea for your first email could be to send a coupon. Who doesn’t love coupons?

Copy: Be concise, and remember your audience has a lot of emails from other businesses to sift through. The easier you make your email to read, the more likely they’ll be to read it. Also, add a clickable button to lead your customers to your site or wherever you like—one that says “Get coupon” could be all you need for our example above.

Design: You’re a small business owner, not a graphic designer (with some exceptions, of course). Don’t worry about the frills just yet. As long as you’ve got your logo, a nice image, and a clear and actionable message, you’re doing great. And because you’re using an email service to help you with layout, you should be able to opt for a responsive one, which works for both desktop and mobile users.

Keep the conversation going

Have you sent your email yet? If yes, you’ve now opened up an entirely new and exciting channel to talk to your customers. And you want to keep that channel open by consistently sending emails, even if it’s once a month (but resist the urge to send too many, even though you’re an email marketing genius at this point).

Creating a calendar of ideas will help keep you accountable in your email practice. For your second email, you could try offering some value to your audience based on their lifestyle. For example, if your small business is a hair salon, you could send an email that links to your business’ new blog post about the month’s trendiest hairstyles.

Already emailing #LikeABoss? Take it a step further.

If you’ve already got a good handle on email marketing, the below tips can help you enhance your strategy.

Segmentation: Sort your email list into categories that make sense for your business. If your small business offers a service to other small and large businesses, you could segment your list into two. Then, you can send specific emails relevant to your small business audience, and a separate email to your large business audience.

Test/Measure: Using a more sophisticated email service will allow you to gather data about how your audience interacts with your emails. If you think one design is getting dull, you could test a new design with part of your audience to see if it performs better.

Brand guidelines: After a while, you’ll be able to form copy and color tones unique to your business and your emails. If you send fun emails to parents about your kids’ camp, use all the exclamation points! If you send professional emails to clients in suits, maybe don’t.