If you’re ready to start engaging with existing customers, potential customers, and sales prospects, you need an email marketing strategy for your small business.

But, sometimes, it can be hard to know where to start.

Do you start a newsletter? Send out emails asking people to buy your product/service?

In this guide, we’re going to break down the key ways you can use email marketing at your company to nurture existing customers, keep your audience engaged, and connect with good-fit potential customers.

We’ll cover:

  • Benefits of email marketing

  • Types of email campaigns you can start using today

  • How to create solid foundations for your email marketing strategy

  • How to use cold outreach to engage with new potential clients

There’s a lot to unpack, so let’s jump right in.

What is Email Marketing?

Email marketing includes any marketing or sales-related campaigns that you send to your prospects, leads, and customers' email addresses. Simple, right?

You can use your email marketing campaigns to nurture your potential customers, engage with new ones, and get more sales.

Benefits of Email Marketing for Small Businesses

Just because your business is small, it doesn’t mean you can’t be using one of the most powerful marketing channels available. Here are some of the key benefits to creating an email marketing strategy at your company:

1. Improve Customer Retention

Whether you have an agency, SaaS, service, or product business, it's always more cost-effective to retain existing customers than acquire new ones. Research has found that it's 5 - 25X more expensive to acquire a new customer than retain your existing customers.

Regularly staying in touch with your customers in the form of newsletters, product updates, or other similar nurturing campaigns will help you stay top-of-mind and retain your customers longer.

2. Get More Sales

While retention is nice, you still need to acquire new customers if you want to grow your business. Email marketing is arguably the best channel to do that.

You can build an email list and nurture those subscribers to show them why it's worth becoming a customer, or, you can send carefully targeted cold email campaigns to engage with prospects that are a great fit for your services.

3. Complete Control Over the Platform and Message

Marketing on third-party platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google comes with inherent risk. You don't own the platform, which means you don't have complete control over how your marketing is distributed and shown to your audience.

With email marketing, the tables are turned.

You have complete ownership of your email list. When you send compelling content to your audience, they'll always see it— no need to rely on social media algorithms or having to pay for visibility with ads.

4. Cost-Effective with High ROI

Compared to other channels, email marketing is relatively low-cost. As well as that, it’s quick and easy to get started with. Both of those factors make it a perfect channel for small businesses.

Studies have found that email marketing generates an average of $38 for every $1 spent. Even if you can see a fraction of that, chances are, you’ll be seeing positive returns.

The only initial costs you’ll incur when starting out are the software you need for sending emails (like QuickMail), your domain name and related expenses, and the time you or your marketing team spend building your email campaigns.

Compared to channels like paid ads where you typically need to spend at least hundreds of dollars before seeing tangible results, email marketing has a much lower barrier to entry.

3 Key Types of Email Campaign To Start Sending

1. Keep Customers Up-To-Date with Transactional Emails

Make sure to set up transactional emails. These include emails such as:

  • Post-purchase confirmation

  • Sending receipts or invoices

  • Welcome emails to new customers and new subscribers

Once you set these up, you’ll have automatic emails being sent to any audience member that matches the criteria you set.

For example, when someone signs up to your product/service, you can send them an automatic welcome email with details on what happens next, useful resources, or a simple thank you for being a customer.

You can easily set this up using QuickMail — if you already save customer records in a tool like Google Sheets or Airtable when someone makes a purchase from you, head to Zapier.

Using Zapier, you can create an automation that triggers whenever a new record is created in your customer database. Zapier will send that customer information to QuickMail and create a new prospect.

You can then start your prospect on a QuickMail campaign automatically. Your campaign can be as simple as a single welcome email, or, it could contain 5-10 emails, each with useful articles, resources, or links to help your new customer get started with your product/service.

It’s simple but, automating emails like this is a powerful way to automate new customer engagement. 

2. Turn Subscribers into Customers with Drip Campaigns

If you’re investing time and money into building your email list you need to ensure people don’t join and forget about you and your business. 

Make sure to nurture your subscribers by regularly sending them useful content. 

Make sure the nurturing content you send is related to the main reason someone joined your email list — if you promised to send someone sales tips, and next week you start sending them investment advice, you’ll quickly start seeing people unsubscribe.

Effective nurturing campaigns are a powerful way to:

  • Educate your email list about their pain points and your solution

  • Build authority in your industry

  • Turn subscribers into paying customers 

They can be promotional — after all, you still have a business to grow.

Common types of content formats you can use for promotional emails include:

  • Links to your latest content

  • Details about your product/service

  • Details about new discounts or promotions you’re running

  • Weekly or monthly newsletters

There’s no perfect science into what to include, or how long your nurturing campaigns should be. The only requirement is that your emails provide ongoing value to your audience and match what they expect to hear from you.

3. Engage Decision-Makers with Cold Email Campaigns

If you have a good idea of who your ideal customers are, a personalized cold email is the perfect way to reach out to them.

It’s a different approach to email marketing. Instead of building a list based on website visitors, with cold email, you approach your ideal customers.

Cold email lets you skip the usual sales and marketing journey — you get direct access to a decision-makers inbox. It’s the ideal channel for small business owners as the costs are low, and it’s direct, meaning you avoid the risk of wasting resources on Facebook Ad campaigns or flyering that don’t even get seen by the right people.

That said, you need to treat your cold email campaigns differently than you treat your drip and transactional email campaigns.

With cold email, you need to treat each email as a one-to-one interaction. That means you can’t send a fancy template to 100 people and expect a reply. Send plain text emails that are short, and designed to start a conversation.

Each email you send needs to have unique customization, written specifically for the recipient. 

For example, if you’re emailing the CEO of a recently funded startup in your area, you can mention that in your opening line to break the ice.

Here’s a great example from AppSumo (see the campaign on Cold Outreach Templates). 

They use attributes like first name, company name, and even your product category to customize their outreach emails. 

If you received this email, chances are, you’re going to reply positively, or at least, be interested in hearing more because it’s clear that it’s targeted specifically to you

Cold email is a powerful acquisition channel for small businesses that lets you engage with your prospects without relying on paid ads, writing new content, or recording podcasts. You get to directly communicate with key decision-makers, making it highly effective — if you can master it.

Creating Foundations for Your Email Marketing Campaigns

1. Set Up a New Email Sending Domain and Warm Up Your Email

You use your regular email address for client and team communication, so you don’t want to risk anything affecting it.

When starting any type of email marketing, it’s always best to set up a new email address on a new domain.

If your existing domain is company.com, buy an address that’s similar, such as thecompany.com or company.io, and use that domain to send your emails from.

This sounds like a hurdle, but it won’t take long to set up. The main benefit here is that if something happens to the email address you’re using to send your marketing email campaigns (such as deliverability issues, or landing in the spam folder), it won’t affect the primary email address that you’re using for client communication.

When you set up your new email address, make sure to warm it up before starting your outreach. Email warm-up tools like MailFlow (it’s free to use) are ideal for anyone sending cold emails. MailFlow also offers a native integration with QuickMail, which is ideal for its users.

MailFlow will warm up your email address and generate engagement so your marketing emails are more likely to land in your audience’s primary email inbox.

Over time, you’ll be less likely to land in the spam folder and your emails will land in your recipient’s inbox more often.

2. Highlight The Best Reasons to Join Your Email List

People won’t join your mailing list without good reason.

Consider how you’ll encourage people to join. Common motivators are downloads for free resources (like our example below).

eBooks, free resources, or other gated content are generally an effective way to build your subscriber base.

They’re often low-cost to create, which makes them ideal for small businesses without huge marketing budgets, and can offer huge value to your audience.

Keep in mind who your ideal customer is, what they care about, and optimize your email list-building strategies based on that knowledge.

As well as having opt-ins, you can add your existing customers to your relevant campaigns. If they’re already interested in problems you can help with, most people will be glad you’re willing to share useful learnings and resources with them on a regular basis.

3. Review the Laws and Regulations You Need to Abide By

Email marketing is subject to various rules and regulations, including:

These dictate what type of content you can send, how you can send it, and who you can send it to.

For most small businesses, this can be as simple as adding an Unsubscribe option to your emails, and including a company address, but, make sure to review any rules that apply before kicking off your email campaigns.

These rules aren't there to stop your email marketing efforts— they're there to cut spam, making email a better channel for everybody using it. 

4. Pick Your Email Marketing Software and Set Up Campaigns

There’s a wide variety of email marketing tools out there. The key is to find one that fits your needs at a price point you’ll see a return on investment on.

If you only need to send promotional emails to your existing list, software like Mailchimp is perfect. You can quickly get set up, and create emails from a variety of nice-looking templates.

But, if you want to set up automated, personalized email sequences to send to both existing customers and new prospects, then QuickMail is for you.

If you go with QuickMail, you can tap into features like:

  • Easy-to-use email creator

  • Ability to import prospects manually, from Google Drive, or from any other tool you use using Zapier

  • Native integration with deliverability tools to ensure every email lands in your recipients’ inbox

  • Detailed analytics on how your email campaigns are performing

  • Collaboration by default, so you can work with your whole team on your email campaigns

Once you’re set up with your account, you can start creating email campaigns, importing your prospects and customer list, and scheduling your emails. You can get started with QuickMail on a free trial to see how our software can help you boost your email engagement at your small business. 

Incorporating Cold Outreach into Your Strategy

When you start using cold email marketing to engage with new clients, you need to approach your strategy from a new direction.

1. Building Your Prospect List

Rather than building a list based on your existing traffic, you’ll curate a list of prospects that match your ideal customer.

Common ways to find prospects include:

  • Finding people that match key criteria on LinkedIn

  • Attending events and trade shows

  • Joining Facebook groups for people in your target industry

Build your prospect list in a simple spreadsheet containing all of the key criteria you need to know about someone (grab our free prospect list template here to make this easy).

Once you have a prospect list ready, it’s time to craft the cold email you’ll be sending to your prospects to start a conversation, and eventually, close new business.

2. Sending Personalized Emails

With regular email marketing, you’ll end up sending similar emails to most people on your list.

When it comes to cold emails, you need to approach it as a one-to-one interaction, with each email being personalized in a unique way.

The simplest way to do this is to customize your opening line for every prospect. In your prospect list, add a new column titled ‘Opening_Line’.

In that column, write a personalized and unique introductory sentence for each prospect.

For example, let’s say you’re emailing a local business owner who recently won an industry award. In your opening line, you can highlight that you saw their achievement and congratulate them.

Instantly, your prospect will know that you’ve done your research, and their trust in you will grow. 

To ensure every email you send is completely personalized, make sure to use attributes in every email.

These take the information you specify in your prospect list and pull it into each email you send. This enables you to create a basic email template that then gets auto-filled with personalized information unique to every prospect you’re contacting. 

You can choose from a range of commonly used attributes in QuickMail, or, create your own.

Considering 86% of B2B buyers expect salespeople to personalize their sales material, it’s essential that you customize every email you send. You’ll get more replies, and more engagement.

Personalization won’t slow you down, either. Using QuickMail you can automate the sending of your outreach campaigns, without compromising on personalization.

3. How to Ensure Your Cold Emails Get Replies

In your regular marketing emails, your call-to-action will commonly be:

  • A link to useful content

  • An invite to join a webinar

  • A link to a product page

In cold emails, you can’t use call-to-actions that act like a hard pitch. If it’s the first time someone’s hearing about you, focus on starting a conversation.

Some effective cold email call-to-actions include:

  • Do you have 20 minutes available for a call this week?

  • Is this a problem that you are facing currently?

  • Would you mind if I sent you a short video to explain how this may help?

In all of these examples, your prospect can reply with a short yes, no, or elaborate. Even if they’re not immediately convinced that they want to work with you, if you can start a conversation and build a relationship, you’re off to a great start. 

4. Tracking Your Campaign Performance

Cold email has different success metrics to traditional email marketing. In your newsletter, you’ll optimize for clicks to the article you’ve linked.

In a product promotion email, you’ll be optimizing for conversions.

But, with cold emails, your goals are different. If you’re selling a product or service to someone that’s never heard of you, they’re not going to instantly convert and they’re unlikely to click any links in your emails.

Instead, there are four useful metrics to measure:

  • Open rate: How many people are opening your emails?

  • Adjusted Reply Rate: Understand how many replies you get for every person that opens your email.

  • Positive Reply Rate: Understand how many people reply positively. Ignore replies such as ‘not interested’.

  • Bounce Rate: A good metric to monitor if you’re landing in your prospects’ main inbox, or in the spam folder.

You can measure how your cold email marketing is performing in your QuickMail dashboard.

You can set targets, then compare how your email campaigns are performing in comparison. When you find a campaign or template that works, you can start to scale it up and start getting more replies to your outreach emails.

Using Email Marketing to Engage and Nurture with Current and Future Customers at Your Small Business

Email marketing is a powerful channel that every business should be using today.

Using email gives you complete control over your communication with clients, prospects, and sales leads. It’s one of the few channels where you have complete control over it — you’re not relying on other platforms giving you visibility.

You can use email marketing at your small business for transactional communication, sending invoices, receipts, or automated welcome emails. You can use it to nurture subscribers by sending them useful content and keeping them up-to-date on interesting news. Or, you can engage and build relationships with potential customers using personalized cold emails.

Whatever strategy you choose, you’ll need the right tools for the job. If you’re ready to start creating and sending personalized emails on autopilot, make sure to start your free trial of QuickMail today.