What is Email Marketing?


Let’s define email marketing before we get into the importance of it to business owners. Email marketing is staying in contact with your subscribers through email communication. It is a strategy and tactic used to stay in the minds of the people you want to do business with.

Done well, it is a welcomed communication and sharing of relevant information. Unfortunately, some have given it a negative perception of being a bother or a nuisance. In response to its effectiveness, some abuse the privilege of having someone’s email address.


Why is Email Marketing Important?


From a practical standpoint, email marketing is important because you can access it just about anywhere and it is a digital record of the communication. A simple and easy way to go back and locate information that you want to reference at a later date.

Statistically speaking, there are reasons it is important, but specifically to small business owners. The return on the investment in email marketing can range from $30 to $40 for every $1 spent. If someone asks you for a dollar the return will be 30 to 40 times your investment. Chances are you’ll give them more than just that dollar if they’ll accept it. This makes email marketing one of the more affordable and effective ways of staying connected with an audience.


The Benefits for Small Business Owners


Email marketing is a cost-effective way of marketing a business. Small business owners managing operating costs, salaries, and circumstances can use a break in expenses. The cost of doing business has to be offset by making sound business decisions that generate the revenue needed to function. If you need help gauging your financial health, check out my article 10 signs your business is financially healthy.

Statistically speaking the numbers tell the story about how email marketing benefits businesses:

  • 87% of brands say that email marketing is very critical to business success. (Forbes)
  • Email marketing generates over $7.5 Billion in U.S. dollars annually (Statista)
  • 37% of businesses are increasing their email marketing budget. (Litmus)
  • 47% of marketers stated that email is their most effective marketing channel. (GetResponse)


Types of Content for Email Marketing


Now that we’ve covered what email marketing is its importance and the benefits to business owners. Let’s take a look at the different types of content being shared in email marketing. Identifying the ones that best align with your business goals and model will help select the right strategies for implementation.

Here are 20 types of email marketing, each serving a specific purpose in email marketing communication:

  1. Newsletter: Regular updates about company news, products, and services.
  2. Welcome Email: Introduces new subscribers to your brand or service.
  3. Sales Promotions: Special offers, discounts, and sales announcements.
  4. Abandoned Cart Reminders: Encourages completion of a purchase.
  5. New Product Announcements: Introduces new products or services.
  6. Event Invitations: Invite subscribers to webinars, workshops, or events.
  7. Feedback Requests: Gathers customer opinions and experiences.
  8. Birthday/Anniversary Emails: Celebrate milestones with personalized offers.
  9. Re-engagement Campaigns: Reconnects with inactive subscribers.
  10. Loyalty Programs: Informs about loyalty rewards and benefits.
  11. Industry News: Share relevant news and updates from your industry.
  12. Educational Content: Provides helpful information or tips related to your products or services.
  13. Seasonal Greetings: Sends wishes on holidays or special occasions.
  14. Company Milestones: Shares achievements or company anniversaries.
  15. Personalized Recommendations: Based on past purchases or preferences.
  16. Referral Programs: Encourages subscribers to refer friends.
  17. Survey Invitations: Invites to participate in surveys for insights.
  18. Thank You Emails: Expresses gratitude after purchases or interactions.
  19. Lead Nurturing Emails: Guides potential customers through the sales funnel.
  20. Legal and Policy Updates: Informs about changes in terms and conditions or policies.



Email Marketing Based on Business Journey Stages


Small business owners benefit from customizing their email marketing strategies to specific stages of the business journey. Each stage of the business journey has specific goals that need to be accomplished. Serving as a bridge over troubled water from one business stage to the next. Learn more about the importance of the business journey with my article Mastering the business journey: Your path to success.

Early-stage businesses within their first 3 years are typically building their customer and client list and establishing themselves in their market. By implementing a strategy and tactic that allows a business to gather email addresses the business can stay in contact and nurture the relationship. An opportunity to showcase your value and educate the audience on what makes you a good choice to address their challenge.

Let’s face it, it is a lot easier to sell to someone who has already purchased from you in the past than it is to win over a new customer. Email marketing will allow you to do that with a much higher success rate than most other forms of marketing. Lead nurturing emails, newsletters, and sales promotions are useful tactics in this introduction business stage.

Mid-stage businesses in the growth stage will most likely look to expand their audience and place in their respective market. Email marketing can help these business owners identify where they are losing and winning over their audience in the customer’s journey to making a purchase decision. Cart abandonment, sales, promotions, and educational content are just a few examples of tactics available at this business stage.

The Scaling-stage businesses leverage email marketing to maintain and build upon their relationship with their subscribers. When looking for ways to expand the business into new markets and to new customers email marketing plays a pivotal role. Keeping your existing audience up-to-date with the improvements and changes being made. Designed to assure them that the things they love about the business won’t be changing. While also making an effort to introduce your vision and solution to new audiences.

It is always a good strategy to follow up with existing customers and continue to show value. People want to know that you didn’t lose interest no sooner than the money exchanged hands. In the scaling stage, you can share new product announcements, industry news, milestones, loyalty and rewards programs and so much more.

No matter the business journey stage email marketing has a place and delivers results. The more knowledgeable you are about your audience and their needs the more value you can bring with email marketing. Email marketing can be used for both information gathering to gain more insights and showcasing what you’ve learned about the audience. I view marketing as the process of taking what you’ve learned about the audience, baking it into your business, and messaging so that you can resonate with your audience.


The importance of personalization in email marketing


Personalizing email communications is more than just a nice-to-have recommendation. Those business owners making the extra effort are seeing the results. One of the things that makes audience research so important is that you have to take what you learn and apply it to each individual. Similar to receiving direct mail in your mailbox that lists the occupant, resident, etc. as the person receiving the letter. The lack of personalization severely decreases the chances of it making its way into your home. Non-descript emails get deleted without opening them and sent to junk folders.

As small business owners personalization is something that entrepreneurs can leverage as something that separates the business from larger companies. Personal experience, service, and support are part of the supporting small and local business expectations. It is the little things like remembering someone’s size or color preference can go a long way.

What are the actionable steps a business owner takes to personalize their email communications? Start with the basics, customize the name, and include the relevant information that you know about the prospect/customer.


Here are 10 elements used to personalize marketing emails:

  1. Name, company name, or other profile data
  2. Customer segment
  3. Past email interactions
  4. Location or geolocation
  5. Past purchases or donations
  6. Past interactions with products or services
  7. Expressed preferences or interests
  8. Past website interactions
  9. Member or reward status or points
  10. Gender, race, or other demographics


Let’s look at some statistics to back this claim up:

  • 80% of customers are likely to purchase from a brand that provides personalized experiences (Constant Contact/Litmus)
  • 83% of customers are willing to share their data to create a more personalized experience (Constant Contact/Litmus)
  • 76% of buyers expect more personalized attention from marketers to develop an intimate relationship with your brand (Constant Contact/Litmus)
  • 4 out of 5 marketers personalize emails with profile data and 64% personalize them by segment. (Constant Contact/Litmus)
  • 77% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the last 12 months (Hubspot)


The Role of Email Automation Plays in Email Marketing


Email Automation provides many benefits but the most significant to small business owners is time. Automation platforms free up your time to focus on other aspects of the business. Done well, email automation can significantly increase audience engagement, lead generation, and revenue. When you leverage strategies and tactics like audience segmentation, email list management, and analytics to track your results.


Email list management through automation platforms gives you a clear picture of the quality of your email list. The idea is to have a refined list of subscribers who are not only invested in the content that you’re sharing but also believe in your ability to deliver the results. A strong list can open the door for other revenue streams like sponsored newsletters, etc.


Segmentation strategies are used to keep the content in your emails relevant and valuable to the audience. When you narrow your focus, you open the door for more in-depth conversation and can be a lot more specific with your messaging. This gives the reader the feeling of you talking specifically to them and sharing relevant information based on your interactions and what they’ve learned about the audience segment.


Automation platforms make it a lot easier for business owners to gather customer feedback. This allows a marketer to refine their content to truly meet the expectations and needs of the audience. The platforms can also serve as a great way to build and monitor your business/brand reputation. Ask for feedback and reviews to gauge the audience’s perception of the business and you.


Analytics and campaign results assessment. Automation platforms provide analytics such as open rates, click-through rates, and other relevant metrics to tell you how the email campaign is performing. Sadly, there are far too many marketers who run campaigns but don’t monitor and assess the results to improve upon their efforts.


Final Thoughts on Email Marketing


Final thoughts on email marketing and the importance for small business owners. Small and minority-owned businesses rely on budget-friendly marketing strategies that deliver the biggest return on their investment. Email marketing has one of the highest returns and is one of the most reliable digital marketing strategies. The more effort you put into the strategies, tactics, and your understanding of the audience. The more you increase your chances of success no matter the stage of your business journey.


As a brand and marketing strategist, I offer coaching sessions to help guide entrepreneurs through their digital marketing options. My goal is to provide people with actionable steps and insights customized to the individual’s business challenges. Leverage 30+ years of experience in marketing and brand strategies and get the solutions that you need to overcome your business challenges today! You can learn more about my coaching services and book a free consultation by clicking here.

Update: We’ve recently updated this article (1.29.24) to ensure it includes the latest statistics and strategies for small businesses. Stay tuned for more up-to-date content!