Here's Why Small Business Email Marketing Makes Sense


If your small business hasn’t entertained email marketing, it might be time for a change. Not only can email marketing make it easier to reach existing customers, but it can also help you grow your customer base and increase your sales. Your small business email marketing budget also won’t have to break the bank, making it a potentially good investment if done with some care and precision. 

What is email marketing?

Thankfully, email marketing is one of the easiest marketing concepts to understand, at least from a high level. Email marketing is exactly what the term suggests: marketing through email. But it’s also extremely varied in the approaches you can take, and fine-tuning your emails can often require a practiced hand. 

If you’re a Google Email (Gmail) user, you may be able to see numerous examples of email marketing at work. Just do this:

  • Open your Gmail account

  • Click on the “Promotions” tab

Everything you see here is email marketing. Some of these, as you can see, are paid ads (Angie’s List, Grammarly). The rest are viewed in the order in which they are received.


Most brands use email marketing of some sort these days. Keep in mind, even large companies with millions of dollars to throw at advertising don’t spend frivolously on marketing. Email marketing is one of many marketing strategies businesses can employ, but it’s now used heavily by everyone because of how well it works when done right.

According to email marketing company MailChimp, the average open rate for marketing emails was is 20.80%, while the average click-through rate (or how many email readers actually clicked a link in the email) is 2.48%. MailChimp updates those numbers semi-regularly, but they reflect positively on email marketing. Although seemingly low, those numbers can vary dramatically by industry, and in general, are fairly high compared to other marketing methods. 

By comparison, the average click-through rate (CTR) for display ads is only around .05%. And those paid search ads on Google? The CTR is around 2%, making them equivalent (sometimes worse) than email marketing for many industries. Paid search ad campaigns are often more expensive to run, making email marketing a potentially more cost-effective solution to consider for small businesses.

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How to Start a Small Business Email Marketing Campaign

With every email marketing campaign, you’ll need a few items:

  • A contact list (sometimes referred to as your “audience”).

  • An email marketing platform, such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, SendInBlue, GetResponse, etc.).

  • An email marketing strategy, including written content, ready-made links to your site or specific deal pages, and images (if you so choose) to add to your emails.

Some of you may be thinking the obvious: “Where do I get the contacts?” There are a few ways to go about that.

1. Have a newsletter or sign-up form on your website

One method to get contacts is to have a sign-up form, either statically or as a pop-up, on your website. You can use this to gather contacts from website visitors. Anyone who visits your site can sign up, even if they don’t go on to purchase a product or use your services immediately.

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2. Collect contact information from account sign-ups

If your website allows users to create accounts, you can collect email addresses and other contact information from the sign-up form. For example, if you run an ecommerce store on Shopify or elsewhere, you may allow users to create accounts to save items, receive detailed tracking information via email, or other useful features. So long as you make it clear that you may use contact information for marketing purposes, you can collect emails through this method. Just make sure you also provide an easy-to-see opt-out option at sign-up.

3. Get customer emails in-store

Many small businesses maintain a physical presence. You can get contact information for email marketing purposes numerous ways in-store. For example, you can ask paying customers for an email address at the register, or you can have sign-up forms in the store advertising email-only deals and discounts.

Use an Email Marketing Service to Manage Your Contacts

Note that you can do email marketing the hard way, or the easy way. The hard way involves gathering, inputting, and emailing all of your contacts manually. If your contacts list is small, this might be doable, but once your list starts numbering in the dozens, hundreds, or even thousands, you’re going to need to automate things.

Quite frankly, there’s no real reason to do things the hard way anymore, even if your audience list is small. 

That’s where email marketing platforms come in. Not only can they automate the email capture for you, but most will also provide useful features, including email design templates, reporting tools, sign-up form management, and more. Many are easy-to-use, but in most cases, you may need some professional assistance getting started and with creating eye-catching content that does a better job of converting. 

More importantly, many offer free plans for small businesses or businesses with smaller contact lists and a smaller number of monthly email sends.

There are dozens of email marketing platforms available, but some of the most favored include:

  • MailChimp

  • Constant Contact

  • SendInBlue

  • Get Response

  • Convert Kit

  • Drip

There are more, of course, and a quick Google search will reveal numerous pages offering ranked lists and service reviews. 

SendInBlue and MailChimp are good examples of services that offer solid free plans well suited to small business email marketing. SendInBlue lets you have an unlimited number of email contacts and allows you to send up to 300 emails per day (max 9,000 emails per month). Meanwhile, MailChimp’s free plan allows you to have up 2,000 subscribers and send up to 12,000 emails per month before making you upgrade to a paid plan. Both are free forever so long as you don’t exceed the limits.

Positively, most email marketing services are fairly inexpensive. Many charge between $10-$50 per month for basic plans that offer large amounts of email sends and allow for huge contact lists.

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Small Business Email Marketing Strategies

Once you start building and managing your email marketing audience, you’ll need to make sure you curate your emails to help achieve success. For example, your goal may be to send your email contacts exclusive deals and discounts. Or, you may want to create a newsletter that links to existing content on your website, introduces new products, or helps keep new and potential customers engaged with your brand.

How you design your emails matters, and you may find it necessary to play around with different formats and messaging styles until you get consistent opens and clicks. Alongside that, a few key strategies for success include:

  • Personalization (both in content and delivery)

  • Audience segmentation (separate email lists help with personalization to different audiences)

  • Mobile-friendly design (increases open and click-through rates)

  • Testing (to ensure your emails look great and display correctly before you send them out)

Excited about the amazing potential for small business email marketing, but not sure where to get started? Contact Madison Ave Media for a complimentary consultation on your small business email marketing goals.