How to Run an Email Marketing Campaign for Your Small Business

An email marketing campaign is an essential part of any small business marketing strategy. Here’s a practical guide to create one for your business.

Updated May 13, 2020

Once a novelty, email marketing is now an essential part of every business that hopes to make its mark and attract customers. And it's not just about finding new business.

Hubspot, a world-class inbound marketing company found that 80% of business professionals believe that email marketing boosts customer retention

But email marketing is easier said than done. The best email campaigns are built around a solid, comprehensive strategy, which requires time and effort.

Here's a quick and handy guide on what practical steps you can take today to launch an email marketing or newsletter campaign that will get results fast.

Overview: What is an email marketing campaign?

An email marketing campaign is a series of messages sent to current and potential customers that engages them on many levels, with the goal of making a sale. Your overall marketing efforts must contain an email marketing strategy.

It’s a proven way to create interest in your brand and develop new leads that will become sales down the road. What to consider when creating an email marketing campaign for your small business

Small business email marketing can be tough to get right, especially if you’ve never done it before. Before diving into your first campaign, consider these three important email marketing tips.

1. What do you have to offer?

Offer something of value to customers. It could be a whitepaper, a discount, an interesting video, or just a helpful blog post. Discover what your audience is looking for, and meet that need in your next email blast.

2. Insert calls to action

Make it unmistakably clear what you want your customer to do next. A big, bold button is a good idea. Pretend you’re the customer: would your email make it obvious what you’re do do next?

3. Spend time on design

Email design is critical, from the colors you use to the to the subject line layout. Don’t waste space — every pixel should have maximum impact. The best email marketing examples always feature eye-popping design elements.

How to create an effective email marketing campaign for your small business

Creating an email marketing campaign is easy with the right tools, but mastering it is hard. And master it you must because a poorly thought-out email won’t drive results, and you’ll have wasted your time.

The six steps below use email and newsletter best practices that will get your next campaign off the ground.

Step 1: Start with a good email list

Your results will be only as good as the email list you use. Poorly targeted emails, no matter how well-designed, will fail. Successful email marketing campaigns begin with email list management.

They develop a closely targeted list that increases the likelihood you're talking to qualified prospects rather than a random collection of individuals.

Fast tip: Create an opt-in campaign if you feel your email list needs streamlining. Your list gets a message asking if they want to continue to receive your emails. This lets you trim your list of bad contacts. Create a gated newsletter offer — placing valuable content behind a wall — available only to those who sign up for the newsletter.

Step 2: Set goals

Now that you have a good email list, determine what you hope to accomplish with this email campaign. This is the only way to measure your success and set benchmarks for future emails.

Create short-term and long-term goals, the former serving as stepping stones to the latter. Then, attach some actionable steps to each goal.

Fast tip: Be specific with your goals. Vague goals like “increase customer engagement with our brand” won’t help you. You need to use numbers whenever possible, such as “increase click-through rate by 20% over the next quarter.”

Step 3: Use software to design the email

You can choose from a lot of great email marketing software out to help you create an email campaign from scratch. Most offer a host of well-designed, proven templates you can customize to fit your campaign. This software helps you lay out your email based on tried and true principles.

Fast tip: Pick software with strong analytics tools — particularly ones that identify which parts of the email the reader interacted with. This will help with future campaigns.

Step 4: Create strong content and calls to action

Well-designed emails won’t get results without great content and strong calls to action (CTA). Create valuable, informative content that your customers want based their needs. Then direct them to your site for more information, or toward discounts or special promotions on your products.

Fast tip: Avoid text overload. For example, provide a blog post snippet and direct the reader to click through for the whole piece. This has the added benefit of getting customers to your site — the ultimate goal.

Step 5: Analyze and tweak

Your software should have strong analytics tools that gather valuable data that help you determine which messages are working, and which aren’t. Review this data regularly and tweak your marketing materials to improve future email performance.

Fast tip: Try A/B testing, sending half your email list one type of email, and the other half another type. This lets you make an apples-to-apples comparison and determine why one resonated more than the other.

Step 6: Map out future emails

Develop a long-term email campaign with a consistent schedule. Each email should have a logical progression to the next, particularly if you're making a newsletter which has the additional goal of getting customers to connect with your brand, so these will need to be planned in advance.

Write content far enough in advance so you're not scrambling at the last minute.

Fast tip: What action you want your customers to take. Do you want them to subscribe to a newsletter? Go to your website? Buy products? Create your messages with that in mind so you are consistently pushing customers in the same direction each time.

The best email marketing software for your business newsletter

Email marketing is easier now because of so many software options that can do the heavy lifting for you. Here are the three best email marketing services based on our reviews.

1. Zoho Campaigns

Zoho is well-known for its customer relationship management (CRM) and project management software, but a major redesign in 2018 could make Zoho Campaigns a big player in email marketing — it's already our highest rated option in this category.

The user interface is easier to use, and it's a great option for small businesses in particular.

Zoho Campaigns Dynamic Content

You can create personalized emails with Zoho Campaigns.

2. Mailchimp

Mailchimp is a giant in the email marketing software industry, and for good reason. This intuitive platform helps you quickly create a professional looking email campaign.

And the dashboard lets you easily monitor key metrics. The software is multi-layered, providing advanced features as your skills and needs increase.

Mailchimp Email Layouts

Mailchimp enables you to choose templates based on what you're trying to accomplish.

3. SendPulse

SendPulse is a good option for experienced marketers who want a lot of features and can handle a sometimes overwhelming user interface. The software does an excellent job of personalizing your messaging, helping to boost your conversion rate. Automation pervades the software, saving your team time.

SendPulse Create a Campaign

SendPulse makes A/B testing easy so you can break down the data later.

It’s time to plot your email marketing strategy

Which email marketing strategies will you employ? Should you start a newsletter? What are you hoping to accomplish with your campaign emails?

Take the time to think through these things before you launch a campaign. Set aside a day and brainstorm with some key players in your company. Emailing is too mportant to your business to push off into the future.

The Motley Fool has a Disclosure Policy. The Author and/or The Motley Fool may have an interest in companies mentioned.