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Email is one of the most effective and cost-efficient marketing strategies for small and medium businesses. Despite the dominance of social media, it remains a great way to reach people and turn them into loyal customers.

There are lots of things to consider in order to create a successful marketing email.

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.

Free plans from useful platforms

It’s important to research your options to find the tool that best meets the unique needs of your business.

1. Building your database securely

  • Email subscription

    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.

  • Unsubscribe option

    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.

  • Target your subscribers

    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)

    This is the legislation about the collecting, use and storage of data.

    Read Business Gateway's advice and resources on being GDPR compliant.

2. Create engaging content

  • Subject line

    Use a clear subject line and align it with the content of the email. This is the first thing a recipient will read when your email arrives in their inbox. It should encourage them to open your email.

  • Tone of voice

    The copy in the body of your email should be consistent with your tone of voice. Be friendly. You'll send most emails directly to someone, who thus expects a human voice.

    Any calls-to-action should stand out from the rest of your email. This will encourage clickthroughs to, for example, your website or social media channels.

  • Imagery

    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.

    Are you looking for extra images? Our mediat toolkit is free of charge and has thousands of amazing photographs from around Scotland.

    Browse our media toolkit.

3. Top tips on using email

  • Customise

    Design emails to fit your brand. You can customise your email template using your brand colours and logo. This will make your emails feel familiar.

  • Keep a publishing calendar

    Make time to plan, write, design and send your e-newsletters regularly. Aim to send e-newsletters 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 on mobile, tablet or desktop. Everything you send should be mobile-friendly.

  • Track your stats

    Pay attention to your:

    • open rates (subscribers who opened your email)
    • clickthrough rates (subscribers who clicked links within your email)

    Try to identify patterns that make those numbers change. If a campaign receives a high number of unsubscribes, try something different next time.

    You can also link your email campaigns to Google Analytics. This will allow you to track what subscribers have done once they have clicked a call-to-action and landed on your website.

  • Timing

    It’s important to track 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.

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?

Read Business Gateway's 10-step guide to email marketing.

Check out Business Gateway's online tutorial.

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