The Importance of Email Marketing for Small Business Owners

Melanie Balke
September 7, 2023

Everyone knows what marketing efforts are important.

You can’t run a business without customers. Every successful enterprise needs dedicated, engaged consumers. Everyone needs an audience.

However, many small businesses struggle to find their niche.

Some choose the wrong marketing channels. Others might focus too much on existing customers, inadvertently pushing away interested prospects. I’ve also met many small business owners who don’t have the marketing tools they need to succeed. And, still, others struggle with customer retention.

Fortunately, there’s a solution to all of these problems.

This is email marketing, and it’s about to be your new best friend.

Why You Should Love Small Business Email Marketing

A modern checkout kiosk. “Why It Matters: Small Business Email Marketing.”

I’ll start with the basics.

Why should you care about email marketing? What can email marketing campaigns do for you — as a small business owner — and how can an email marketing service improve your life?

Email Marketing Has Proven Itself

The biggest draw is its monetary value. As of 2022, email marketing campaigns have an astounding 4,400% average ROI. That means you’ll get $44 back on every dollar you spend! More astoundingly, this statistic covers every email service provider and includes all of the email marketing platforms.

Recipients of email marketing campaigns also spend more, especially when they get a shiny coupon. One study found that website visitors using emailed coupon codes spent 138% more than other shoppers.

And none of that even scratches the surface of your potential audience.

As of 2022, over half the global population has an email account. That means there are around 4 billion (4,000,000,000!) unique email users. And, unlike social media users, email addresses are centralized. Your business’s automated emails are guaranteed to reach your target audience, regardless of where they may be. You don’t have to worry about different platforms, either. With emails, your marketing strategy is (mostly ) independent of third-party interference.

“But,” you may be saying, “all those points are wildly generalized! How does any of that apply to small businesses?”


Email Marketing Campaigns Are Cheap

One of the biggest benefits of email marketing is its price.

Compared to other digital marketing efforts, email campaigns are remarkably cost-effective. That 4,400% ROI has to come from somewhere, and most of those returns are thanks to the channel’s low initial investment.

While many digital marketers have minimums of $1,000 or more for projects or monthly retainer fees, you’ll also find plenty of agencies willing to offer plans for less. That already low price can decrease even more if you factor in small subscriber lists and infrequent emailing.

And — if you need an even lower price — you can take advantage of this marketing channel’s innate flexibility. While you must have images, copy text, and in-depth market research to run a successful social media campaign, many high-yielding email marketing campaigns are little more than clever copywriting.

Email Marketing Software Makes Customization Simple

Speaking of flexibility, email marketing may be one of the most adaptable marketing channels.

Even the simplest email marketing software gives business owners the ability to quickly segment and sort a contact list. Many of the most popular email marketing services go even further, offering in-depth analytical features and highly specialized personalization tools.

All these tools help businesses reach the right customers at the right time. I can’t list every use of a powerful automation tool’s uses — that would take too long! However, I can give you some examples, such as:

  • Automated Emails: Triggered email campaigns increase brand recognition and strengthen customer relationships.
  • Customizable Email Templates: Simple drag-and-drop interfaces simplify the creation of consistent, gorgeous email marketing.
  • Integrations: Emails can be used to promote another marketing channel. Blogs and social media profiles are common targets of such promotional emails.
  • Personalization: Personalized content can make anything sound more personable. Advanced applications can push potential customers down your sales funnel and encourage more direct contact.
  • Scheduling and Marketing Automation: These tools, often included as part of a service’s basic free plan, keep customers engaged and ensure prompt delivery of your promotional emails.
  • Targeting: The ability to reach a highly specific target audience is one of email marketing’s greatest draws. Well-planned segmentation of email subscribers can increase revenue while fostering strong customer relationships.

You Own Your Email Marketing

Finally, here’s a benefit you may not think about…

You own your email marketing. That’s not to say you have complete control over your email marketing software. Most of those platforms are software-as-a-service (SaaS), so you’re technically a customer. Instead, I’m pointing out that nobody can claim your email content as their own. All that direct communication — from the subject lines and body copy to your images and photos — is yours.

Comparatively, social media marketers often lose the rights to their content. Anything posted on a platform — such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter (now known as “X”) — generally becomes that platform’s property. It can be reused as the business needs it, and your brand won’t have much of a say in the matter. Moreover, deleted or restricted social media accounts lose access to their followers.

Now, let’s see how that compares to email marketing software…

  • Most social media platforms — particularly those owned by Meta and Twitter (now “X”) — have infamously poor customer service. The majority of email marketing platforms have readily available support, with many offering both chat-based and phone support options.
  • Social media limits users to a rigid standard. Email templates are remarkably versatile and fit all your business needs.
  • Losing a social media account means losing your followers, but you can easily export your contact list for later use.
  • Social media sites can claim your content as their own. Email marketing platforms cannot.

And those are just some of the differences!

Honestly, other marketing channels are barely comparable.

How Can Small Businesses Use Email Marketing Effectively?

Now we’re on the same page about email marketing tools, right?


We know that email marketing is cost-effective. We know it’s a widely available way to improve a business’s performance. But how do we get from the beginning of the process — with no ideas, plans, or content to speak of — to the end?

This is where things can get dicey.

You can have the best email marketing services in the world at your fingertips, but they won’t matter if you don’t know how to use them!

So, let’s remedy that. It’s time to investigate how small businesses can make the most of email marketing.

Successful Email Marketing Attracts and Retains Customers

One of the best parts of email marketing for small businesses is its ability to decrease customer acquisition costs. A strong email marketing strategy is a double-edged sword. One funnel brings in new customers; the other engages existing subscribers. So, you’re pushing that essential customer acquisition and reducing churn.

The process begins with your welcome email.

You greet your new subscribers, invite them to stay, and give them plenty of incentive to stay on your list. As time passes, you shift your goals. Non-purchasers may be sent along a path of discovery, wherein email subscribers are sent regular educational updates about a product. Simultaneously, paying customers can be engaged through drip campaigns and post-purchase flows.

In both situations, you’re aiming for constant contact.

Fortunately, automated emails do most of the heavy lifting. These easy-to-use solutions are sent out as needed; you only have to prepare the contents. Some of the most common forms of acquisition and retention emails include:

  • Abandoned cart campaigns
  • Appreciation emails for loyal customers
  • Drip marketing campaigns
  • Reminder emails
  • Surveys

Use Those Email Marketing Tools to Keep Customers Engaged

Part of the formula for success is engagement. You want readers to be invested in your content. You want them to crave more after that subject line. Consider anything less a strategic failure!

Achieving such a lofty goal goes beyond a basic drag-and-drop editor.

You need a drip marketing campaign — a purpose-built tool to maintain those critical customer relationships. This portion of the email marketing strategy guide revolves around taking full advantage of the marketing channel.

You’re using the widespread accessibility of the modern email inbox as a first-class ticket to your audience’s mind. The best email marketing strategies understand this, and the results are astounding. Even the simplest drip campaigns have stupendous effects, such as:

  • Greater brand awareness
  • Higher customer satisfaction
  • Higher engagement
  • Increased revenue
  • Reduced customer churn

Naturally, you’ll use automated emails for most of this.

Most services offer the tools you’ll need to run minimalist drip marketing campaigns as part of a free account bundle.

This bare-bones setup works perfectly for many small businesses, but don’t rest on those laurels! After a while, you’ll build customer relationships that require more intervention. Those transactional emails may need some micromanagement, and you’ll have to upgrade your plan to access the appropriate email marketing tools.

Keep That Money Flowing With a Results-Driven Email Marketing Strategy

Once you’ve upgraded your email marketing software, you’ll need to retool your marketing strategy.

Sure, you could keep sending the same content. If an email marketing campaign worked in the past, it may do just as well on subsequent reruns. However, you can only eat your favorite meal for so long before it becomes bland. Likewise, even the best email campaign goes stale. Beyond that, you’re not using your email marketing tool effectively if you stay the same course.

It’s time to get granular.

Investigate your audience and break it down. Investigate how certain groups overlap and what works with each audience.

At this point, you may start dabbling in the world of custom landing pages and conditional email marketing tools. And don’t worry if that sounds confusing! Your email marketing provider of choice will have tutorials to help you.

This is also the perfect time to work additional goals into each marketing campaign. For example, post-purchase transactional emails act as digital receipts… but they’re also the perfect time to do some upselling! Similarly, those welcome emails are great ways to invite new subscribers to your social media accounts.

Common examples of additional goals for email campaigns include:

  • Collecting customer feedback
  • Cross-selling
  • Delivering information (e.g., “FAQ” emails and informational campaigns)
  • Emphasizing pain points
  • Increasing a metric’s performance
  • Promoting upcoming deals
  • Promoting upcoming events (often done alongside sign-up forms)
  • Upselling

Tips and Tricks to Perfect Your Email Marketing Strategy

A row of books. “Tips & Tricks: Refine Your Email Marketing Strategy.”

This has been a lot of information, but I’m not done yet!

I can’t leave my readers in the dust, can I?

As I said before, even the best email marketing services can’t save you from a haphazard marketing strategy. Every automated email needs a purpose, and that constant contact can backfire. Summarily, email marketing is hard, and a lot can go wrong. Despite its massive ROI, small businesses may find themselves spending more than necessary on services that aren’t working for them.

So, to help you avoid that fate, I’m ending today’s blog post with some quick tips to make your small business email marketing shine.

Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

After all this talk about the flexibility of email marketing, it would be silly of me to say, “Hey! Stick to pre-built email templates! And never do anything else — no matter what!”

As handy as those drag-and-drop editor cutouts are, they don’t cover every possible business need. For example, your small business may need some embedded sign-up forms to prepare for a local event. Or, perhaps, you’re thinking about running a series of quirky personality quiz email campaigns. In both situations, you’ll need some add-ons. It's best to use free options like Jotform's Quiz Maker and you can incorporate that into your email campaigns.

You’ll also need to track how your emails are received, particularly when you’re doing something “unusual.”

Now, before you start to think this is impossible: Don’t panic!

In addition to marketing automation and scheduling, most email marketing services have tools to perform A/B tests. Think of these as marketing science experiments, wherein you compare (as you may have guessed from the name) a “Version A” against a “Version B.”

Aside from helping you gauge your audience’s interests, these unique email campaigns can help your small business refine its overall marketing strategy. And you don’t have to make massive changes to get the most from this email marketing tool. Most A/B testing focuses on seemingly inconsequential elements, such as the subject line or pre-header text.

And — before you ask — yes! Those little tweaks can have a considerable impact on small business email marketing.

Be Consistent With Your Email Marketing

You also be consistent.

Yes, I’m talking about the visual appeal of your email campaigns. Those email templates are handy ways to ensure your email marketing is unique to your own business. Everything — from your font choices to your color palette — drops clues for your readers, telling them, “Hey! It’s me again!”

But I’m also talking about timing.

Aside from maintaining the “constant” half of “constant contact,” a steady, reliable schedule guarantees you a spot in your audience’s inbox. You become a consistent facet of your readers’ routine, a friendly postcard dropped off every Wednesday. This sort of familiarity is essential for small businesses, and it’s hard to come by outside of an inbox!

Know, too, that a steady stream of content improves your delivery rate.

Most successful companies send 1 email marketing campaign per week. Now, will that work for your small business? You’ll have to run some A/B tests and find out!

Axe the Stress and Hire an Email Marketing Agency

Overlapping leaves. “Hire an Agency: Save money and time by letting the pros handle your emails.”

Finally, the most important tip I have for small businesses is to hire an email marketing agency.

I’ve said it again and again: The best email marketing software can’t salvage an abysmal marketing strategy. However, a great agency will move mountains to deliver the best email marketing service to your door.

Aside from covering the time-consuming task of content creation, a knowledgeable agency — such as The Email Marketers — knows the legal ins and outs of email marketing. Your team understands the delicate balance between personalization and privacy violations. You’ll even have a dedicated specialist to ensure all your email campaigns look gorgeous! That same implementation specialist will even create landing pages as needed, so you’ll have plenty of data to work with.

You’ll also be spared the expense of maintaining an email marketing platform.

So, you’ll save time, money, and stress!

If that sounds like something your small business needs, schedule a free strategy session with me! I’ll show you how a stellar email marketing service can help your small business thrive.

In the meantime, don’t forget to check the rest of The Email Marketers’ blog for more tips, tricks, and marketing news!