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Have you been thinking about using email marketing but not sure where to start? Or you currently use it and want to know you’ve got the basics covered? 

Despite the dominance of social media, email remains one of the most effective and cost-efficient marketing strategies for small and medium-sized businesses. It’s a great way to reach people and turn them into loyal customers, without spending a lot of money.  

Getting started with email marketing 

Business Gateway has developed a 10-step guide to email marketing and an online tutorial for those considering using email marketing. From preparing your objectives to experimenting with different templates, tones and approaches, and monitoring data, find out how you can get started.  

A man uses a laptop

Email marketing platforms 

You might think that well-designed, responsive email marketing templates are too expensive, but there are many free email marketing templates that your business could use.  

Choosing the right email platform depends on your own business. There are many free plans available from useful platforms including MailChimpConstant Contact and Campaign Monitor. It’s important to research your options to find the tool that best meets the unique needs of your business. 

Building your database securely 

You want to make it easy for people to subscribe to your emails. Post a signup form on your website homepage and social media channels. Keep the form short and simple, as making it too long might scare people off, and only ask for the most essential information.  

It’s important to make it easy for people to opt in to receive your emails, but it’s also important that you make it easy for contacts to unsubscribe from your list if they no longer wish to receive them. 

Keep your database clean and updated. You can remove unengaged subscribers from your email marketing list so that you only market to those who want to receive your emails.   

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is legislation regarding the collecting, use and storage of data. Business Gateway has some useful advice and resources on being GDPR compliant

Create engaging content  

There are lots of things to consider in order to create a successful marketing email. Use a clear subject line which is aligned with the content of the email. This is the first thing a recipient will read when your email arrives in their inbox and should encourage them to open your email. 

The copy in the body of your email should be consistent with your tone of voice. Be friendly – most emails are sent directly from one person, and people expect human voices. Any calls-to-action should stand out from the rest of your email to encourage clickthroughs, for example to your website or social media channels.  

Break up content into small blocks with subheadings and images to make it easier to read. The images you use should be eye-catching and relevant to the copy.  

Here are some top tips on using email

  • Customise

    Design emails to fit your brand – you can customise your email template using your brand colours and logo, making your emails feel familiar. 

  • Keep a publishing calendar

    Make time to plan, write, design and send your enewsletters regularly. Aim to send enewsletters to your subscribers at least once a month. 

  • Edit

    Make sure you leave plenty of time for the editing and revision process. 

  • Test

    Send test emails to make sure your emails look as intended whether being read on mobile, tablet or desktop. Everything you send should be mobile-friendly.  

  • Monitor your stats

    Pay attention to your open rates (subscribers who opened your email) and clickthrough rates (subscribers who clicked links within your email) and identify patterns that make those numbers change. If a campaign receives a high number of unsubscribes, then try something different next time. You can also link your email campaigns to Google Analytics, allowing you to monitor what subscribers have done once they have clicked a call-to-action and landed on your website. 

  • Timing

    It’s important to monitor the timing of when you send emails. Think of any reasons why a particular day or time of day may lead to less or more open rates.   

  • Something to say

    Only email if you have something to say – before starting a newsletter, make sure it's a sustainable commitment that will help you achieve your business goals.