These days, almost everyone uses email, making email newsletters one of the most effective marketing methods for any small business.

Whether you sell business-to-business or business-to-consumer, here’s how to make email marketing work for you.

Collect Customer Email Addresses

To send email marketing materials, you need to get your customers to give you their email addresses. You can do this by:

  • Placing an opt-in link or button on your website to receive emails from you
  • Providing forms customers can fill out at your store or office
  • Asking for customers’ email addresses at point of purchase

Offering an incentive like a useful free report or a discount code or coupon can help encourage customers to share their emails. If you have customers fill out an online form or online registration, keeping it short encourages more people to sign up.

A single opt-in signup means someone signs a specific email address up to get email from you, and you send it without confirming the address. It’s better to use a double opt-in system, which protects customers from unwanted email and protects you from emails bouncing back. To use a double opt-in system, send an email to your list requiring people to confirm their email addresses and that they still want to get email from your business.

You can buy lists of email addresses from list brokers or from other businesses. However, your in-house email list is more valuable, because these people have already shown interest in your business. That means they’re more likely to act on your emails.

Comply With CAN-SPAM

Your business must comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s CAN-SPAM Act, protecting consumers from junk email, which means:

  • You must identify whom the email is from.
  • The email must be clearly marked as an advertisement.
  • The subject line cannot be deceptive.
  • The email must include a physical address for your company.
  • Unsubscribe requests must be honored within 10 days.

You also need to show how you protect customer privacy. Include a privacy policy on your website that explains what steps you take to secure confidential information. You can read more about CAN-SPAM compliance at the FTC website.

Get Help

Many small businesses use email services to send email newsletters. These services can simplify the email process for you, provide design templates and help you comply with CAN-SPAM. Below are some popular email newsletter services:

  • Constant Contact
  • Benchmark E-Mail
  • Campaigner
  • iContact

Effective Newsletters

When sending email newsletters, frequency is important. You want to send email often enough that customers remember your business, but not so often that you overwhelm them. In general, weekly emails work well, but test to see what gets the best results for you.

To ensure that customers open your newsletters, provide useful and relevant information. If you’re an accountant, for example, your newsletter could include news about your company, a message from you, an update on a new service you are offering, and a useful article such as tips on getting ready for tax time.

Photos and graphics help get your email newsletters opened, but be sure you have the rights to any images you use. Take your own photos, join a stock photo service so you can access photos from professional photographers, or search online under “Creative Commons” to find photos you can use for free simply by crediting the photographer.

Include calls to action, such as links users can click to contact you, go to your website, access special offers, buy a product or get more information. Track Results

Email newsletter services have analytics tools you can use to view information such as how many people subscribe or unsubscribe, which elements get clicked on and which newsletters get opened. Monitor your results and tailor your emails accordingly.