As American small business owners get ready to reopen, most have one question—how will we get customers into our stores, restaurants, offices, etc. again? The simple answer is marketing. But the actual answer is more complex. Marketing encompasses a lot of different practices, tactics and strategies. All of them are constantly evolving.

But one aspect of marketing that has been a constant for many years—email marketing offers you the highest ROI of all marketing vehicles, $42 back for every dollar you spend, according to recent studies.

Email is rapidly changing as well. Tom Kulzer, CEO and founder of AWeber, a leading email solution for small businesses, says, “The most effective [email] marketing strategies adapt, grow and innovate.”

So, how do you keep up with what’s working best today? Here are some insights from small business owners and industry experts from the 2020 Small Business Marketing Email Marketing Statistics Report from AWeber.

View these as a list of best practices—techniques and tips that are working for many of your peers.

As successful as email marketing has proven to be, not everyone is practicing it—66% say they use email marketing to “promote their businesses or communicate with leads and/or customers.” If you are one of the business owners not using email, you need to get started. It’s not just about the ROI, email is actually the marketing practice most consumers prefer businesses reach out to them through.

Is email marketing important to and effective for small businesses? 

The short answer is “yes”—79% say it’s important or very important to their businesses. Yet, only 60% think their email marketing strategies are effective or very effective, while 26% say it’s either ineffective or very ineffective.

To develop an effective email marketing strategy, you have to keep your customers in mind. John Jantsch, the founder and president of Duct Tape Marketing says effective emails “must be personal, targeted and crafted with the prospective [customer’s] objectives and objections in mind.”

Measuring success

How do you know how effective your email marketing is? Obviously you need parameters to measure against. Let’s start with open rates. Most small businesses (65%) average open rates between 11% and 50%. But most need to work on improving their click-through rates—77% of small businesses average email click-through rates between 0% and 10%.

Frequency of sending emails 

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked about email marketing by small business owners is—how often should I send emails? Most respondents (about 40%) say they send emails “at least once a week but less than daily,” followed by a little over 30% who send emails “at least once a month but less than weekly.” About the same number (12% or so) either send emails daily or less than once a month.

Mark Asquith, the cofounder and CEO of Rebel Base Media, suggests small business owners new to email marketing start by sending a weekly email. He advises, “Rather than sending more, test what you already do. Then test frequency.” His point is you shouldn’t be sending more emails that don’t work and less emails that do work—and the best way to determine that is, Asquith says, “Test, test, test!”

Ramit Sethi, the author and founder of I Will Teach You to be Rich, maintains frequency is not the most important factor for email success. Instead, he says, “Writing amazing emails that provide value is. If your emails are incredibly entertaining, informative and engaging, you can send as many as you want.” He advises business owners to “watch your open rates and unsubscribe rates closely.”

Does size matter?

Of the small business owners in the study, 43% have between 0 and 500 subscribers, while a bit over 30% have between 1,001 and 9,999. Not surprisingly, less than 7% of small businesses have more than 50,000 subscribers on their email lists. Does the size of your list impact effectiveness? Yes, though having at least 500 subscribers seems to make the difference. Of the small businesses surveyed, 42% with more than 500 subscribers say their email marketing strategies are effective or very effective, while only 20% of businesses with 500 or less subscribers say the same.
Obviously, growing your list is important. (You can sign up and get tips here.) “The bigger your list, the more conversions you can achieve,” says Kath Pay, the CEO and founder of Holistic Email Marketing. She advises small business owners to “Ensure your subscribe form is above the fold, in a prominent, easy-to-access position on your website. Have this form available on every page of your site.”

Think of email marketing as one of the most powerful tools to jumpstart your small business to the next level. It’s effective, it’s affordable and it works.

Want to learn how to apply best practices to your email marketing? Read the full report from AWeber. 

Start your email marketing at no cost, and with no time restrictions. AWeber has a new FREE email marketing plan to help you get the tools you need to grow your business.

In Partnership with AWeber

Email stock photo by Roobcio/Shutterstock