A Guide to Email Marketing for Small Businesses

Using email lists is one of the most effective marketing tools available to medium and small businesses. There are various ways you can build your email list to jumpstart your email marketing campaign. If your business can create and maintain a quality email list, you will be able to both expand your customer base and hold on to existing customers.

When it comes to small business email marketing, we recommend dividing your process into designing a strategy, implementing it and then measuring your progress. Let’s go through the intricacies of it one by one.

Creating your Email List Using Subscription Forms

The best thing you can do is try using subscription forms, which can be done in a number of ways to build a list of subscribers. Subscription forms are used to enable clients to receive updates regarding future sales, promotions, etc., and in order to do so they need to give you their email addresses.

Subscription forms can be pop ups (set at certain intervals e.g. 30 seconds after a person opens your website) or they can be simply embedded into the header or footer of the web page itself. Keep such forms to the point, simple to understand, and persuasive without being annoying. You can place these on places other than your homepage as well, such as a purchase confirmation page.

The key tips to remember when using subscription forms is to make sure that you’re combining a few types in your use, and to ensure effective placement.

Using Lead Magnets: The Most Effective Subscription Forms

Lead magnets are subscription forms that offer some kind of reward to customers for subscribing. These can be free product samples, future discounts and such. Lead magnets are very popular in email marketing and for good reason.

Embracing Social Media: Potential for Placing Forms

Social media is generally quite a good option for building an email database. For your email list, you can integrate sign up forms on social platforms. Some platforms allow this already, whereas services like Woobox (which you can use to place your forms on Facebook) can be helpful otherwise.

Understanding Email Design and the Anatomy of a Good Email

Now that you’ve created your email list, you can begin sending out promotional emails.

Before you begin, it helps to be familiar with the basic components of an email. These are, generally, the header, subject line, body and footer. The subject line should be short and clear. Save the exciting details of your offer for the main body.

Email Design: Potent Content

First and foremost, your emails’ content should be concise and easy to understand. Avoid clickbait and aggressive persuasion. Utilize the body as well as you can in order to meet conversion goals.

Include your logo and company name in the header (remember, this is the first thing that the receiver will see). Likewise, use the header for social media links and such.

Email Design: Visibility and Layout

Keep your email structure simple and visually pleasing. You can do this by having small paragraphs, highlighting important sentences, including citations, etc. Make sure your action buttons and provided links are not confusing as well.

Tools for Monitoring Progress

It is important that you continue to monitor your progress so you can identify and work on weaknesses. Here are certain tools to help you:

1.       Bounce rate = Divide emails returned by emails sent before multiplying by 100.

Your bounce rate shows you the number of your messages that aren’t being received. This can signify either that some of the emails in your list are nonexistent addresses, or that there are temporary problems with servers, etc.

For the latter problem, the best thing to do is to give the problem some time. For the former case, you should delete the impotent emails.

2.       Unsubscribe rate = Divide unsubscribed users by emails sent, and then multiply by 100.

This shows you the rate at which people in your list are unsubscribing. While a certain amount of unsubscribes will always be present, too high an amount means that either your emails are too frequent, or the content in irrelevant.

3.      CTR = Divide emails clicked by emails delivered. Multiply the answer by 100.

You use this to see how many of the people in your list actually click on the links in your email. Assuring relevant content and concise structure helps keep a high CTR rate.

4.  Conversion rate = Divide actions completed by emails delivered. After that, multiply by 100

Your conversion rate is how many subscribers who actually perform the action you’ve urged them to in your email. Since this is a bit more complex than the other ratios mentioned here, it helps to use software such as Google Analytics. This ratio is also the one you should keep most track of in order to ensure that you stay within budget.


In conclusion, email marketing can be incredibly beneficial for your business. While results may be slow at first, it is important to realize that you are making an investment that is bound to pay off in some way or the other.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.