2018 Email Best Practices for Your Small Business

Email marketing is an effective way to engage current customers and keep your small business at the top of their mind. When done right, it can increase foot traffic, sales and word-of-mouth referrals. According to a Direct Marketing Association study, email has a median return on investment more than four times higher than other marketing formats surveyed, including social media and paid search.*

But how can you get a piece of that pie? It’s all about creating an effective strategy that is supported by email best practices. Follow these tactics for your small business email marketing to see profitable results.

Build your email list from legitimate opt-ins

It may be tempting to purchase email address lists, but you’ll soon find out it’s a waste of your budget. Since these people didn’t actively opt-in to your emails, they will likely end up in their spam folder, or the user will add them to their junk folder themselves which is detrimental to your email deliverability score. If that score is affected negatively, your emails will rarely reach any inboxes.

Tip: Add an email sign up sheet at your front desk, or include an email opt-in field in the footer of your website.

Implement CAN-SPAM Act requirements

The CAN-SPAM Act rules are simple, and must be followed.

  • Your ‘To,’ ‘From,’ or ‘Reply to’ information cannot be false or misleading
  • Subject lines must be relevant to the email message
  • Include your business mailing address at the bottom of every email
  • Make your ‘unsubscribe’ button obvious and put it in every email
  • Remove email addresses who have opted-out within 10 days of their request
  • Identify what messages are ads, like sponsorships or advertorials
  • Monitor what third party agencies are doing for you in regards to email

If you’re in Canada, the CASL rules are different, and a bit more specific, so be sure to keep yourself updated on them.

Tip: Use an email marketing platform to easily implement most of these requirements.

Segment your email list for relevancy

Each of your customers are unique, so they should be communicated to in specific ways. When you see them in person you don’t offer each of them the same treatments or services, so it shouldn’t be done via email either. For example, as a veterinarian you can target your customers who own dogs and separate their messaging from those who own cats, or ferrets. Cat and ferret owners would be segmented into their own category as well.

Plan a series of communications for your segments. It’s not a good practice to email your audience once and never again. Find a good balance in your email frequency.

Tip: Segment your dog owner emails even further by separating their messages by puppy, adult and senior. The more relevant the content, the better your results will be.

Use clear and concise writing and formatting

There is a ton of competition out there for your audience’s attention, so clear and concise writing is really important. Here are some helpful guidelines:

  • Your subject line should never be more than 60 characters long so the full subject can be read in the inbox. This will help your open rates.
  • Your preview text – also known as a ‘preview’ of your email in the inbox – should only be between 60-90 characters long.
  • Headlines make it easy for the reader’s eye to skim the body of your email. Make sure your headline font is at least 30 pixels and your body font is 13-16 pixels.
  • Formatting your content with bullet points and bolded phone numbers call help draw attention to important information.

Tip: Use actionable content in your call to action buttons instead of ‘Click here.’ For example: Get Started, Learn More, Schedule Today, or Request an Appointment.

Personalize your emails to each individual

Personalizing your emails will really help boost your click-thru rates, which often lead to conversions. Use your customer’s first name when you start your emails, send them a birthday message with a coupon, and send them an email reminding them to reschedule any missed appointments. With personal, relevant and concise emails, you’ll be surprised to see how well your emails perform.

Tip: Use your customer’s first name in the subject line when applicable.

Email marketing takes time to set up properly. But once you’ve done that, you can have fun with testing different messaging with different audiences. Once you have your first successful email campaign, you’ll be motivated and excited to create the next one. For more advice on starting your first email, read our Step-by-Step Guide to Sending Your First Email Campaign.


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    Aaron Starc
    4 years ago

    These are some good email marketing tips. People can take a lot of benefit from this. What one needs to know is that email spam is a really bad thing and there is a way to followup on your email list which one can easily follow. Email design is an important thing that one needs to keep in mind as per user’s experience.

    Shannon Jones
    Shannon Jones
    3 years ago

    I just started with a New Company that uses Demand force and i was wondering if i could get some training.