Marketing Channels, Marketing Planning & Reporting

Email Marketing for Small Businesses: Why You Should Use It & How to Get Started

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For small businesses, emails are an ideal way to connect with potential and existing customers, share relevant content and promote your products and services. Whether you’ve been in the business for years, or you’ve just launched your brand, you’ve likely been told it’s something you should consider!

If you’re new to it, however, it can feel overwhelming. So I’m here today to demystify the subject and break down the process for you. Let’s explore email marketing for small businesses, why you should use it and how to get started.

Why email marketing for small businesses?

Email marketing, newsletters and automated emails have a great potential to help grow your customer base. There are multiple benefits of email marketing for small businesses:

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  • Affordability: Sending out a regular email newsletter is an affordable way to spread the word about your small business. Plenty of email providers even offer free mailing services, e.g. MailChimp. Other providers like Campaign Monitor have very low cost monthly packages to get you started.
  • Brand awareness: These services also offer a variety of design templates. So you can adapt your newsletter design to match your brand design or upload your own custom layout. This way, you can ensure your customers instantly recognise content from you (without even seeing the sender name!).
  • Repeat business & referrals: You can use email marketing to keep in touch with existing customers and clients. This is great if you want to increase repeat business, online reviews and referrals for your small business.
  • Convert leads: Ask potential customers or clients to sign up for your mailing list and send them a regular newsletter. This way you can offer them special discounts or inform them about your latest products.
  • Customer loyalty: Regardless of the nature of your small business, email marketing can help you start a customer loyalty scheme. Use it to talk to your VIP customers and ambassadors to grow your business with their help.

No matter if you’re sending out reminders to clients or offering potential and past customers an exclusive deal, email marketing is definitely something to consider for your small business.

Read more about how to build and grow a mailing list for your small business.

How to get started with your email marketing

1. Build a mailing list

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Before getting started with your email marketing, be sure to collect email subscribers that are relevant to your small business. Using a double opt-in process also helps you to only sign up people who are really interested in your newsletter.

This will improve your open and click rate and keeps you safe when it comes to data protection regulations (i.e. GDPR).

Grow your mailing list via your website or blog, social media channels and events and trade shows you are exhibiting at. Also, add a subscribe link to your email signature and ask existing readers to share your newsletter with like-minded friends and colleagues.

2. Find relevant content

The most important element to your newsletter’s success is your content. First and foremost, provide value to the customer; if you only send out sales letters with your latest promotions and offers, people will quickly unsubscribe.

Instead, deliver information, tips and tricks, insights and news that they otherwise wouldn’t have discovered. Be sociable and show them something from behind the scenes of your business. Introduce your team members or tell them about your latest staff outing. All of this makes customers feel included in the community around your brand.

Also important is the subject line: If you’re too pushy you risk ending up in a spam folder. So make sure it’s informative and precise and lets people know who is behind the newsletter.

3. Measure

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First of all, set your goals for every email marketing campaign you’re planning. Also, don’t forget to add a call-to-action to get better results (“Click here!”, “Follow us!” or “Share with friends and colleagues!”).

To track your results and measure the success of every campaign, implement ways to measure what people have been clicking and reading. Many systems like MailChimp and Campaign Monitor offer this by default.

Or you can use Google Analytics to track the traffic from your newsletter to your website or shopping cart. Just make sure you can check if you’ve reached your goals as well as what content works and what doesn’t.

4. Be on time

An important question, but a difficult one to answer: When is the best time to send out your newsletter? There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution for this as it depends on your audience.

When you’re mainly addressing businesses, people are usually very busy at the beginning of the week and already on their way out on Friday afternoon. Research on this topic has been done by countless organisations and platforms, all with different outcomes. Generally speaking, however, a Tuesday between 8am and 11am is seen to be a good time to aim for. People usually check emails in the morning, before or just after they arrive in the office, and by Tuesday the post-weekend rush has calmed down!

If you’re selling to consumers then the times to send out emails are completely different. During office hours they won’t have much time to read their private emails. So focus on evenings and weekends. It’s not an exact science though, so you’ll have to experiment to find out what time works best for you.


To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
How to Build a Mailing List for Your Small Business
Small Business Email Marketing: The Alternative Guide
How to Get Repeat Business From Existing Customers
7 Ways to Keep in Touch with Your Existing Customers

Denise Strohsahl brand and marketing consultant for small businesses

Hello, I’m Denise from sandstonecastles, a brand & marketing consultancy based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I help small business owners like yourself to find the right marketing that’s in line with your brand and values.