How Email Marketing can help SMEs take off

Deshan Mendis

Content Writing Lead

How email marketing can help small medium enterprises take off

As a small medium enterprise (SME), one of the biggest challenges is getting word out about your brand and your services to your customers. From balancing ongoing business activity to figuring out how to reach your target audience, there’s a lot you have to keep a track of, and it can be daunting to think about preparing a marketing budget. That’s where email marketing comes in as a handy and cost effective way to start promoting your business as you grow.

Here’s what you need to know about what email marketing it is, how your business can benefit from it, and some tips for getting started.

What exactly is email marketing?

Email has been a consistent communication method across the world for many years and has become a daily part of life for many people. Email marketing leverages this as an opportunity to help you promote your organization and its products or services via email to lists of people who have expressed interest in your business.

First off — is setting up email marketing even worth the investment? According to Hubspot, almost 78% of marketers saw an  increase in email engagement in 2021, while 59% of respondents from their survey said that marketing emails influence their purchasing decisions. When done right, email marketing is a convenient and easily accessible method to market your brand to your target audience and even convert prospective interests into long-term customers.

Is email marketing really that great?

Did you know that there were 4.1 billion active email users in 2021? This number is predicted to only increase year-on-year, and is estimated to reach 4.6 billion users by 2025.

Email marketing is also a great way to tap into a reliable audience base, compared to other forms of marketing. For example, some people only use certain social media platforms or avoid them altogether, but everyone who is connected to the internet will usually have an email address. Depending on the scale of your operations and how you plan to grow, this means you can reach hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people with your content.

There’s a lot of benefits to email marketing, but here are the really important ones you should know:

  • It’s cost efficient
  • The return on investment for email marketing is estimated to be $42 for every $1 spent (USD), that’s a 4200% return on investment!

    The efficiency of email marketing allows you to start marketing at a low cost while you are starting out and will grow with your business, helping you market to your increasing customer base while keeping your marketing overheads under control.

  • It’s flexible
  • With email marketing, you’re in complete control. With the option to create any format of email you want, from flyers, infographics, newsletters, and more, you can market your product or services in a way that suits your business needs and image. As you ramp up your operations and introduce new products or services, you can modify your emails accordingly, helping you keep your customers in the loop at all times.

    Your emails can also be automated to stagger over a specific time period, freeing you from the headache of constant monitoring. You can even set up multiple email campaigns across overlapping periods of time, helping you reach different subsets of your audience whenever you need it. This comes in handy any time you want to do time-specific marketing, like a seasonal sale or limited-time promotion.

    While these are strong benefits, it’s also worth noting some of the challenges of email marketing:

  • Improving acquisition
  • Building and growing your email list will be an ongoing challenge throughout your campaigns. 35% of email marketers send 3-5 emails a week, and there’s a good chance that your mail will be competing for interest with dozens of other companies in your audience’s mailbox. Customers who really love your products or services will be quick to sign up, but growing your list means bringing in customers who may be hesitant at first.

    To help encourage your customers into signing up, your banner or pop up should be as non-intrusive as possible. Add some personality to it by including elements of your brand voice, emphasize the benefits to your customer, and highlight why they would personally want to be emailed by you.

  • Open rates and click-through rates
  • When starting out, your email campaigns may run into low open rates. Low open rates are a sign that your audience is not interested in your content or that it isn’t relevant to them. If your emails are showing low open rates, you either need to change the content you’re creating or re-evaluate your audience’s interests. You should always be adapting your content to changes in your audience’s behavior and paying close attention to your metrics is a key part of this process.

    Click-through rates usually refer to how many of your customers are clicking your CTA. This is one of the most important parts of your emails as this usually indicates direct audience interest in purchasing your goods or services. A low click-through rate is a sign that either your audience is not interested in what you are promoting or does not intend to purchase the product or service your email is focusing on.

    Creating an effective CTA ties into your content and which segment of your audience it is being marketed to. Your CTA should make it easy for your customer to navigate to the content of your email, whether that is to make a purchase, check out a new release, or learn more about a new offering. The more relevant and easily accessible your CTA is to the content of your mail, the more likely your audience may be to click through future mails.

  • Audience retention
  • Once you have a solid email list, the next challenge is to keep your audience onboard. Your audience’s attention can be inconsistent; what works today may not work tomorrow. This means you will spend a lot of time reviewing the metrics of your emails and identifying trends that your audience is interested in. Beyond this, you’ll also need to spend time designing your emails and creating compelling content each week so you can keep audience interest.

    How often you send your emails can be a factor that limits audience retention. Sending your audience too many emails in a week can decrease interest or they may unsubscribe entirely. It’s important to find a good balance for the frequency of mails that you send out to help you retain your audience.

When done well, email marketing helps your organization leverage its strengths and core selling points to potentially convert prospective buyers into confirmed customers and one-time buyers into long-term customers.

Not only does email marketing help you keep growing as an SME, it allows you to stay true to your roots and it scales with your operations as you expand, helping you to keep marketing to your targeted audience in a way that makes the most sense for you and your business.

Let’s take a closer look at how you can start creating your own email marketing processes.

How do you start email marketing?

To start creating your email marketing workflow, you will need a list of customers that you can email. These are members of your target audience who have shown interest in learning more about your organization and its services, and want to stay up-to-date on what you have to offer. The easiest way to do this is to add a banner or a pop-up to your website, giving your audience the option to provide their email address to you.

Step 1—Give your customers a reason to sign up

Your customers may not immediately provide their details if there is no context for why they should sign up, so try highlighting the benefits they would receive. For example, you could offer your customers a periodic newsletter or product updates if they sign up. As your organization and email list grows, you can expand upon your website’s banners or pop-ups in the future by adding unique incentives like entering contests and giveaways for signing up.

Make it clear what the customers will get by providing their emails, and emphasize the benefits of signing up with a strong call-to-action that encourages your audience. Transparency and openness can go a long way in helping your audience take an additional interest in your marketing messages.

Step 2—Design your emails

While your list builds, you’ll need to think about the design of your emails and the content you want to send out. This is where you can get creative and experiment with different types of layouts, visual designs, and formats to find what suits your business the best.

Think outside the box and try out different combinations until you find a design that helps you communicate your messages with clarity but while also adding some of your brand personality.

Step 3—Send an introduction email

Once you feel you have a decent amount of people on your email list —depending on your business’s size and niche— the next step is to send out an introductory email. Your introductory email should be short and sweet, telling your customers what they can expect from your emails and showing them how they can unsubscribe if they want to. Keep in mind that keeping an easy-to-access and user-friendly unsubscription feature is a legal requirement in some countries, so don’t forget to include it!

Step 4—Plan for Automation

As your email list builds up over time, you can consider transitioning from manually managing your emails to automation. Many email service providers give you basic automation options such as sending emails at a scheduled date and time, but using a dedicated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can help you access more flexible options.

Email automation in combination with CRM tools helps you manage your growing list of customer addresses and gives you more control over planning your email campaigns. This allows you to save time and fine-tune your emails to access different audiences subsets and promote specific offers, products, or services while developing more complex or long-term campaigns.

Once you have a workflow that works for your business in place, it’s important to keep a track of performance and constantly improve upon your processes to retain your audience and keep up with your competitors.

What are some ways to improve your emails?

Creating promotional emails can seem simple at first, but there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes than most people realize—most people will only open a mail if it interests them at first glance. Depending on the industry you operate in, email open rates can vary from 19% all the way to 29%.

A large part of email marketing is finding out how you can include your content into the audience’s ‘must-open’ criteria. This is where the design, optimization, and audience targeting of your emails comes in.

Here are some ways to improve your marketing emails:

  • Personalize your emails:
  • Did you know that including the name of your audience in the subject line alone can increase your open rate by as much as 50%?

    With the right CRM tools, you can customize your emails to address each individual member of your mailing list, which instantly makes your emails more personal. Customizing your email’s visual design according to the content it carries will also help you stand out from other emails and draw the interest of your audience. Consider also using a real reply address that your audience can write back to if they want to know more or have feedback for you.

    At Surge, when we handle a client’s email marketing campaigns, a large part of our writing is dedicated to curating email content to match the target audience of our clients, including who they are, where they’re located, and their interests in your organization.

  • Optimize for mobile:
  • One of the first things people do when they start their day is check their mails, and what better way to do it than through their phones?

    For example, 41.9% of email users open emails on their smartphones or tablets. This is why it’s important to make sure your emails are optimized for mobile; it makes it easier and more convenient for your audience to read when they’re on the go. They’re more likely to read your future emails as they come in, rather than waiting to get home to open them on a computer— or not open them at all.

  • Segment your emails:
  • Use the data you have of your customers’ interests and purchasing patterns to create email content that caters to specific members of your audience.

    People are much more likely to open your emails if they appeal to their specific interests or what they love the most about your products or services. By segmenting your mails to certain customers rather than your entire mailing list, you have a higher chance of converting interest into confirmed purchases while avoiding filling the mailboxes of customers not interested in a specific topic.

  • Keep an eye out for legal requirements:
  • Depending on where you and your audience is located in the world, make sure that your emails stick to any possible legal requirements.

    Legislation such as CAN-SPAM in the US, CASL laws in Canada, and the EU General Data Protection Regulation have strict conditions and privacy regulations that must be followed when email marketing. It’s important to make sure your emails meet these requirements as this will keep your mail out of the spam folders of your audience’s mailbox and help you avoid some significant fines.

  • Create relevant content:
  • It’s tempting to jump on the newest marketing buzzword or trend, but remember that your customers buy from you because you stand out from the crowd. Similarly, the content in your emails should carry your unique brand image and stay relevant to your operations at all times.

    For example, the email marketing campaigns we create at Surge are carefully designed around the company image of our clients and how they want to present themselves. We aim to make sure that the content your audience receives truly adds value to their relationship with your brand when they open up your email.

When it comes to email marketing, the smallest details make the biggest difference. It can be easy to send generic emails to a mass audience, but you’ll make the biggest waves when your content is curated for your customer’s needs and interests.

Your audience is on your mailing list because they want to know more about you and what your business has to offer, so make sure to keep your content focused on how your business is ready to help them.

Is email marketing a good fit for your business?

Email marketing is usable by nearly every type of organization in any industry, because of its flexibility and accessibility. Email marketing doesn’t just help you grow, it helps your business take off and reach millions of people in your country, or around the world, with unmatched cost efficiency and convenience. It gives you the space you need to grow at your own pace while still keeping a close eye on your brand image and customer base.

The best part about email marketing is that its flexibility allows it to be relevant for every type of organization regardless of the industry. That said, it’s important to remember that effective email marketing needs a lot of research, familiarity with your audience, and an understanding of the best ways to communicate with your customers.

Want to get started on developing your organization’s own email marketing campaigns? Schedule a call with one of our marketing experts to know more about how Surge can help your business set up its very own email marketing campaign.

Deshan Mendis

Content Writing Lead
Deshan Mendis is a Content Writing Lead at Surge Global, and is based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He focuses on copywriting, email marketing, social media analysis, and team development. Outside of work, he is a short story writer with a focus on fiction-based settings. He is also an avid reviewer of Japanese animation, comic books, and video games.

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