Email Marketing For A Small Business – From Novice To Ninja In 5 Lessons

Email Marketing For A Small Business

Today I’m going to show you a step-by-step process, a tutorial, for learning how to do email marketing for a small business the right way.

This will be your blueprint for success to increase your sales to both new and existing customers on your email list. And this isn’t going to be difficult or hard to understand if you just follow the process.

You CAN do this…

EVEN IF you’re not technically minded.

EVEN IF you don’t consider yourself a great writer.

EVEN IF you know absolutely nothing about email marketing now.

I’ll take you by the hand through the five sections and show you just what you need to know without overwhelming you.

What You May Want To Do Is To Go Through One Section Per Day For The Next Five Days

I’ll show you how to do everything you need quickly and easily. All you have to do is follow each simple lesson plan regarding email marketing for a small business.

I hope you’re excited about this. You should be because if you put what you learn into practice, your business will never be the same.

In a very short period of time you’re going to develop a plan for email marketing success that’s perfectly tailored for your business. And it will be easier than you can imagine with a system that’s proven to work.

Are you ready to increase sales through email marketing for a small business?

Alright, let’s do this…

The five sections in this tutorial will give you the essentials necessary for you to start, or improve, your email marketing for a small business immediately after you complete the tutorial. Here’s what you’ll learn.

Table Of Contents hide

I want to make a small distinction to start.

I consider email marketing to be the all-encompassing form of marketing accomplished by using the email marketing channel.

That would include promotional email, transactional email (like confirming an order placed through your online shopping cart) and/or what I like to focus on: content marketing.

I bring up this point because content marketing has proven to be an especially effective way to build relationships and trust with your buyers (and prospects) that allows you to sell to them repeatedly over time.

It works!

You can click here for more information on content marketing if you’re not familiar with it.

This tutorial for email marketing for a small business will set you up for email marketing, in general, but it will also help you nurture leads and sell to buyers continually in a way that will almost let you increase your flow of revenue each month like turning on a water spigot if you do it right. We’ll get into the heart of that in the forth section four.

Here’s a quick definition of content marketing to give you a good idea of what I’m talking about.

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Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. Content marketing institute

Why You Should Use Email And Content Marketing

Email marketing is touted by many businesses as the most productive and cost effective marketing channel. Here are some facts and figures to back that up.

  • 66% of marketers say email delivers an excellent or good ROI. (
  • For every $1 spent, $44.25 is the average return on email marketing investment. (Experian)
  • 7 in 10 people say they made use of a coupon or discount from a marketing email in the prior week. (2012 Blue Kangaroo Study)
  • 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email. (
  • Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing. (
  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing (which content marketing does) generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost. (

Day 1 – Essentials Of Email Marketing For A Small Business (An Overview)

Email Service Providers

One of the first things you’ll need to do – if you haven’t done so already – is choose an email service provider. There are quite a few good ones out there, but I’m going to suggest three that have been around for a while and are well liked.

Of the three, I recommend Aweber to anyone who asks. I have a good bit of experience with both Aweber and Get Response, and I personally like Aweber the best.

I’ve used Constant Contact, and it was a good service as well, but I prefer Aweber.

Feel free to do some research and check out alternatives to the three I’ve mentioned above.

I’m going to give you the links for these options below in your first assignment.

Costs For Email Service Providers

There are two ways I’ve seen pricing for email services: a cost per month depending on how many subscribers you carry in your database or a cost based on how many emails you send.

For me, the three providers mentioned above are the best option for email marketing for a small business.

They have very user friendly dashboards and make it easy to build lead capture forms, manage your subscribers and evaluate reports. They save you a good bit of time and give you what you really need for a successful program. All three let you send an unlimited number of emails each month.

The services that I’ve seen (and used) that charge by how many emails you send out don’t seem to have the ease of use or the simple, nice looking forms as the other option.

That’s just my opinion, but I’ve been working with two companies that charge by how many emails you send and those are two issues I’m having with them. And one of these cost-per-email companies doesn’t have auto-responders yet, so I only use them to send high-volume email promotions, not to capture leads.

Here’s An Example For How Aweber Charges (accurate as of the time this was written):

Up to 500 subscribers: $19/Month
501-2,500 subscribers: $29/Month
2,501-5,000 subscribers: $49/Month
5,001-10,000 subscribers: $69/Month
10,001–25,000 subscribers: $149/Month
25,000+ subscribers: get a quote

Other providers are normally in the same ball park where prices are concerned.

Email Marketing For A Small Business, The Legalities – The CAN-SPAM Act

One law you need to be aware of is commonly referred to as the CAN-SPAM Act. Every business owner needs to follow it when email marketing for a small business

Here’s the more detailed description: Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003

You can click here to get all the details about it, and I’ll give you a bullet point summary below.

  • Don’t use false or misleading header information.
  • Don’t use deceptive subject lines.
  • Identify the message as an ad.
  • Tell recipients where you’re located.
  • Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you.
  • Honor opt-out requests promptly.
  • Monitor what others do on your behalf.

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Here’s Your First Assignment in this email marketing for a small business short course…

Choose an email provider and sign up*. Here are the links for the three email provider suggestions I gave you.


You’re Off To A Great Start With Your Email Marketing For A Small Business… Now Prepare To Use Email, And Content, Marketing To Send Your Sales Curve Through The Roof!

Day 2 – Metrics: How To Measure Success When Email Marketing For A Small Business (Some Guidelines)

Let’s get right to the bottom line. How will you know if your email marketing is working?

You need to use some metrics… numerical indicators that gauge how you’re doing and what you need to do to improve.

Here are some of the metrics you’ll use and definitions for each. I’m also giving you some quick tips in how to improve your numbers.

Open Rate

The open rate is the percent of your emails that were actually looked at by the recipients.

They clicked on your email and opened them up. If you sent 1,000 emails and 200 people opened them then your open rate would be 20%. Simple.

Average open rates vary by the type of the industry you’re in and other factors, but following are some very general guidelines to tell you how you’re doing.

Formula: # opened email ÷ total # of emails sent

  • Business to business (B2B) open rates average just over 20%.
  • Business to consumer (B2C) open rates average between 15% – 20%.
  • Non-profits average around 15% for open rates.

Tips For Increasing Open Rates

  • Send an email at least one time per month to your subscribers. More often is better.
  • Deliver good, valuable content (not just promotions with a sales pitch).
  • Use appealing subject lines and pre-header text (to be discussed later).

Things you can test to try and increase open rates: The subject line, the name of the person it’s from (and always use the company name), pre-header text.

Click Through Rate

The click-through rate (CTR) is another interesting metric. This shows that a link in your email has been clicked by the reader. It’s expressed as a percentage.

The CTR equals the number of click-throughs divided by the number of messages that were opened.

So, if you sent 1,000 emails and 200 were opened and 10 people clicked on your links in their email then your CTR is 5%.

Average Click Through Rates

Formula: # unique clicks ÷ # of emails opened

  • B2B average around 7%.
  • B2C average around 6%.
  • Non-Profit average around 4%.

Tips For Increasing Click Through Rates

  • Add links to your images.
  • Include several links for your recipients to click.
  • Keep important copy near the top of the email and in the preview pane.
  • Use a call-to-action button to encourage clicks.

Bounce Rate

A “bounce” is an email that doesn’t get through to your recipient, so you want to keep your bounce rate as low as possible.

Bounces happen because email addresses go bad over time, people change jobs or start using new email accounts or there’s a temporary problem.

The bounce rate is calculated as a percent of emails returned from the recipient’s Internet Service Provider.

If you send 1,000 emails and get 5 returned, then your bounce rate is .5%.

There are two types of bounces.

A hard bounce is due to a permanent condition like an email address is invalid.

A soft bounce is returned because of a temporary condition like the recipient’s in-box is full or a server is down, so the email address is still valid.

Average Bounce Rates For Email Marketing For A Small Business

Formula: # of returned bounces ÷ # emails sent

  • You can expect between a .2% – .5% bounce rate or a consistently emailed list.
  • For an infrequently emailed list expect between 5% – 7% bounce rate.
  • A first time emailing of a list the bounce rate can be as high as 20% – 30%.

Tips To Keep Bounce Rates Low

  • Mail regularly to keep your list clean and stay in front of your subscribers.
  • Provide valuable content in your emails that your readers want to receive.
  • Don’t send hard sell, in-your-face promotional email. It looks spammy.

Unsubscribe Rate

This is a bad statistic that you want to keep as low as possible.

Unsubscribers are simply recipients who no longer want to receive email from you.

If you mail 1,000 emails and 15 people unsubscribe then your unsubscribe rate is 1.5%.

Average Unsubscribe Rates

  • For a consistently emailed list expect between .2% – .75%.
  • For an infrequently emailed list expect between 2%-5%.

Tips To Keep Unsubscribe Rates Low

  • Send email to your list at least once per month. More often is better.
  • Email only what was promised or requested (don’t pull a bait and switch).
  • Once again, provide valuable content.
  • Be mindful not to send too many emails too often. If you send an email every day and your unsubscriber rate is high then consider sending less frequently.

There are plenty of other metrics to use for calculating success like sales conversion rates, return on investment, lifetime value of a customer and the like, but they go beyond the scope of this tutorial for email marketing for a small business.

Email Marketing = Fast Results

One of the things I like most about email marketing is how fast you get the results.

You can expect to get at least 80% of your results within the first 24 hours (exceptions may be on holidays and weekends).

And you’ll get a significant percentage of your results within the first four to six hours.

Tracking Your Results

You can use third party tracking software (some people like Google Analytics, and it’s free), and that should work well for you.

However, some small business owners don’t like the technical details, and they want to keep it simple. If that describes you then simply use the old school method of using promotion codes.

Give a unique promotion code “ABC123” and associate it with an offer (“buy three tires and get one free”).

Anyone who gives you that promotion code bought because of that promotion, so that accounts for pass-along value as well, like when a person who shares a promotion code with a family member who uses it. Give this a try to keep your tracking simple.

Testing To Improve Performance

There’s one more thing I want to quickly mention here called A/B split testing.

The bottom line is that you test one email message (message A) against another (message B) to see which one provides more profit.

A/B split testing will be one of the keys to your success, but it’s an in depth discussion that’s a next step for you. I do offer a step-by-step guide on how apply A/B split testing to your email marketing if you’re interested.
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Here’s Your Second Assignment for email marketing for a small business…

Do the math (don’t worry, it’s super simple).

Today we’re just going to do some simple math for  email marketing for a small business to make sure you fully understand how to calculate the metrics. I promise, this will only take you a couple of minutes.

  • You send 2,500 emails and 500 people open them. What is your open rate?
  • You send 2,000 emails, 400 people open it and 20 people click the links. What is your CTR?
  • You send 3,000 emails and 10 bounce. What is your bounce rate?
  • You send 4,500 email and 9 people unsubscribe. What is your unsubscribe rate?

If you have any difficulty just refer to the information given earlier in this module.

Now You Know The Simple Math That Will Help You Make Email Marketing For A Small Business Successful. Great Job!

Day 3 – Autoresponders (Putting your email marketing on auto pilot)

Autoresponders are emails that are sent to subscribers automatically when triggered by certain events.

One example would be when a new subscriber just signed up to your email list using your lead capture form. They should automatically get a welcome email.

Different Ways To Use Autoresponders

One of the great things about them is that you can set them up once for a specific purpose, and then they keep working on their own without further effort on your part (unless you decide to make changes).

It’s like putting your email marketing on auto pilot.

Another way to look at it is that autoresponders act like your own personal assistant. You show them how to do something once, and then they continue to do all the tedious manual email work for you while you tend to other business.

Engagement – An Important Benefit To Using Autoresponders

Autoresponders also help you engage your email community in a meaningful and ongoing “conversation.”

Over time that can translate into a significant boost in sales because trigger-based email will increase your sales conversions.

When you segment your list (break it down into smaller definable groups based on informational fields in your database) you can set up an auto-responder series specifically for that segment.

Then you can have a different conversation with one segment than you would with another.

For instance, let’s say you have a jewelry store and you’ve broken down your list into two groups: men and women.

Don’t you think you would like to have a different kind of conversation with the men than with the women? Autoresponders let you do that.

You could set up a series of tailored messages for the women and/or men that they would receive over a period of time (that you determine).

You also might want to set up a series of messages that speak to your most loyal customers… maybe reward them with special deals.

Here Are Some Ways That Email Marketers Segment Their Lists

  • Types of products bought (purchase history).
  • Interests (music, movies, sports, etc).
  • Recent activity (like autoresponders to subscribers who opened the last email you sent).
  • Most recent subscribers (give them a little more attention to get them engaged).
  • A specific field in your customer database (like the person’s job title or zip code).

The Internet marketing research firm MarketingSherpa shared what types of automated emails online businesses send.

Here’s The List To Get You Thinking About What Could Work For You

  • Welcome
  • Thanks
  • Transactional (bills, receipts, order confirmations)
  • Activation (how to use a product or service)
  • Post purchase (customer survey, product review)
  • Upsell or cross-sell promotions (product recommendations)
  • Date triggered (renewals, reorder, birthday)
  • Triggered based on website behavior (visits, browser history)
  • Event countdown
  • Win them back as a customer / re-engagement
  • Shopping cart abandonment

Autoresponders – More Ideas For You

  • Survey your customers after they make a purchase. Send them an email per day (maybe per week) with an autoresponder and ask them how they liked their purchase. You’ll get some valuable insights from this that will help you improve your marketing efforts and sell more products.
  • Market similar products and services to customers based on their purchase history. Send follow-up autoresponders with related products.
  • Autoresponders are perfect for delivering free, or paid-for, training tutorials (e-tutorials). Send a daily or weekly tutorial lesson without even having to think about it after you set it up. So, when someone subscribes to your tutorial, they’ll receive the lessons automatically over a period of time that you determine.
  • After an appointment you can add your client to your “appointment follow up” list and send them an autoresponder. It could be a thank-you note, a reminder to schedule their next appointment or whatever you think appropriate to engage them in a meaningful way.
  • Thank people who RSVP to an event you invited them to.
  • Send a client a nice email on their birthday, anniversary or a holiday.
  • Confirm appointments.
  • If you own a health club then offer fitness-coaching subscriptions. Your personal trainers could give your clients daily motivation using autoresponders. Maybe send workout plans and links to demo videos.
    • Can you tweak this idea to fit your business?

Welcome messages have one of the highest open rates, so they’re very important. This should be the first autoresponder message you create.

When someone first signs up to your list you should send them an autoresponder to welcome them, let them know that they have been successfully added to your list and thank them for subscribing.

This may also be a good time for you to give them a free bonus (a digitally downloaded product like an ebook would be great) and explain the kind of content you’ll be offering them (tips, articles, special “insider” deals and promotions, etc.).

Short Autoresponder Video

In the next module we’re going to cover the content you’ll create in order to start and maintain an ongoing conversation with your subscribers.

Quick Tips For Autoresponder Series

You want to focus on what’s called “evergreen’ content, which is content that’s high quality, useful and relevant to your readers for a long period of time.

Examples for the subject matter would include content related to weight loss or how to save time and/or money.

The format for the content could include answers to frequently asked questions, interviews with experts or how-to tutorials.

How-to tutorials are one of the best ways to go, in my humble opinion.

Here’s an example.

If you’re a florist, come up with a free tutorial for a five-step process about how to create flower arrangements for the home. Send each step as an individual email about two, to three, days apart.

This is all set up in your autoresponder module from your email service provider like Aweber.

Use photos and/or links to videos to demonstrate how everything is done.

These tutorials are a great way to use an autoresponder series that is sure to build strong connections, loyalty and trust with your subscribers.

So, when your subscribers need to buy something related to the kind of content you promote, who do you think they’ll look to? That’s right, YOU!

That’s why we focus on content when email marketing for a small business.

We want to create, and maintain, a relevant conversation over time with your buyers and your potential buyers.

People only buy when they’re ready, so you need to stay in front of them on a continual basis.

Here Are A Few More Tips When Creating Content For Your Autoresponder Messages

  • Write in a conversational tone (just like you talk) as you would with a close friend.
  • Empathize with your readers and put yourself in their place. What do you think they want to know.
  • Think it through and deliver it through your autoresponder content.
  • Segment your list of customers and use autoresponders to reward loyalty, and do it on a personal level. Let your best customers know how much you appreciate their business.

Autoresponders are very easy to set up and use.

Aweber (and any other top-rate email service provider) will have plenty of information and tutorials to help you with this.

Well, that will wrap up this lesson on autoresponders. Here’s your assignment…
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Here’s Your Third Assignment for email marketing for a small business…

This is what you need to do to complete the assignment.

  • Write one or two sentences that you would include in a “welcome” autoresponder message.
  • Write a description for what you think would be the most profitable “segment” of your list of customers (hint: women who buy your high end fashion accessories or men over 40 with low back pain).
  • Develop an idea for an autoresponder series (tutorial, Answers to frequently asked questions, etc.)


Three Lessons Down And Two To Go. You’re Making Tremendous Progress In Becoming An Expert In Email Marketing For A Small Business!

Day 4 – Irresistible Content (How to create the content your subscribers want to read)

As I’ve mentioned before, email marketing, with content marketing at its core, is a great way to start and maintain a conversation with your buyers and best prospects.

People buy when they’re good and ready, so you have to stay in front of them on a continual basis. That’s a key factor to repeat sales.

In the last module we touched on how you should use “evergreen” content. I want to emphasize that again here as you start to think about the kinds of subject matter you’re going to produce for your subscribers.

Following Are Some TOPICS That Are Considered Evergreen Because They Always Have And Always Will Be Popular.

  • Finance/Saving
  • Food
  • Jobs & Careers
  • Love and Romance
  • Money
  • Parenting
  • Pet Care
  • Weight Loss

NOTE: For evergreen topics that relate directly to your business, just focus on the types of problems that have always been around and you think always will be. Then offer solutions to those problems.

Here Are Some Basic APPROACHES For Delivering Evergreen Content.

  • How-to tutorials (Usually organized in a step-by-step approach).
  • Ways-to tutorials (Usually organized as different options for accomplishing a goal).
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ – simply take the most asked questions about a particular topic and answer them.).
  • Interviews (pose a series of questions to a qualified expert… maybe a friend of yours would qualify).
  • Lists (people love to read relevant lists. For instance, strategies, tips, insider secrets, tactics, techniques, exercises, principles and the like with a detailed description for each).
  • Case studies (show how successful people started with a problem and overcame it).
  • Idea generators (like the one you’re reading now).
  • Your top picks (review some things – maybe products or services – and tell which you like best.
  • Time saving tips (spell it out and show them how).
  • Money saving tips (everyone likes to save money).
  • Planning guides (list a set of activities arranged in a daily schedule to be used as a checklist)

If you can combine an evergreen topic with an evergreen approach for delivering content, then chances are you’ve got a winner on your hands.

There Are Also Different MEDIA FORMATS To Consider. Here Are The Most Popular When Email Marketing For A Small Business.

  • Articles/posts
  • Video
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars
  • eBooks
  • eTutorials
  • White papers

The easiest for most people will be to write articles and blog posts.

How To Distribute Your Content

Probably the best way for most small business owners to distribute their content is on their own website blog.

Another way is to write a guest post on someone else’s blog that serves the same audience as your business. That’s a great way to build your email list and generate leads.

You should also distribute your content through social media like FaceBook, Google My Business (Google Posts), Linkedin, Twitter and others where you can find the right audience.

Here’s a great tip for you. Search the Internet for a social media sharing platform called Hootsuite. It has a free plan to get you started.

I’ve been using Hootsuite for years to manage my social media postings. It’s a simple way to post to Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn and more at the same time in a single effort. A real time saver.

And feel free to do a Google search for Hootsuite alternatives.

You can also distribute your content the old school way by writing for print magazines and newsletters that your audience reads.

Another Tried And True Way To Deliver Great Content

Some businesses simply inundate their email list with sales pitch after sales pitch and then can’t understand why they have such a high unsubscribe rate.

It’s simple. No one wants to be flooded with sales messages. That’s a great way to fail when email marketing for a small business.

If you were trying to build a good relationship with someone would you continually try to sell them something?

Of course not!

You would look for ways to help the other person and build bonds of trust, respect and friendship.

So here’s a great way to start delivering your content that’s focused on helping the other person solve problems and improve the quality of their life.

Follow a pattern similar to this: Pure Content (PC) > Pure Content (PC) > content with a soft sales pitch (CSSP).

Just keep repeating that pattern over and over.


So, you write the first two messages without trying to sell anything. You just think of ways to help your readers solve problems and better their lives.

On the third message you also write a helpful message, but at the end you suggest a solution to the problem. And that solution just happens to be one of your products or services.

Use A Call To Action

The solution you offer is a “call to action,” which is simply your suggestion as to the next step for the reader to take to get the help they may need.

For instance, “Call us at 999-555-1234 for more information about how to keep your pet free of ticks and fleas.”

Delivering your content in this way is going to build a lot of goodwill, trust and loyalty.

Email Marketing For A Small Business – The Basics

If you want to get your email read there are two things that are vitally important: the “from” line and the “subject” line.

These are the first two things that people look at to separate the spam from the messages they want to read.

The first thing people normally look at is the line that tells them who the email if from, so make sure you have your company name here.

Another good thing to have is your own name included.

The Subject Line

For the subject line you have a limited amount of characters you can use before the line gets cut off. Some people will advise that you have 45 – 50 characters. But that character count can vary for many reasons.

I was told that an iPhone will limit it to fewer characters. The key to remember is to get your most important information at the beginning of the subject line because you never know where it will get cut off.

Another important thing to consider for mobile email is “preheader text,” which is the short summary text that follows the subject line when an email is viewed in the inbox (like with Gmail).

For a mobile email in particular, the preheader can mean the difference between someone opening your email or not.

So, you want it to be something powerful like a strong benefit or a summary of your offer.

The preheader text is normally pulled from the first line of text in your message.

Some Technical Things To Remember

When it comes to technical aspects of your email marketing for a small business, remember this one thing: always use a “responsive” email template.

The bottom line is that a responsive template will fit any device perfectly whether a desktop computer, a tablet or a smart phone.

Keep in mind that most of the people that will get your emails will see it on their smart phone (and that number is growing).

Another fact is that if the email doesn’t fit their screen, most people will just delete it rather than scroll around.

So, not fitting on the screen of a cell phone will eliminate a sizable portion of the people you want to buy your products and services.

That’s it for this lesson. It’s time for your assignment.
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Your Fourth Assignment for email marketing for a small business…

  • Choose a “TOPIC” for a series of email messages.
  • Figure out an “APPROACH” of content message.
  • Decide on a “MEDIA FORMAT” you would like to use for an email series.

Need some inspiration? Go to the beginning of this module and refresh your memory.

That’s Four Lessons Down And One To Go. You’re Coming Up On The Finish Line!

Day 5 – List Building – Creating Your Most Valuable Email Marketing Asset

The number one priority you should have for your email marketing for a small business effort is simply this: Focus on building your list.


I really want you to get this point so I’m going to say it again.

The #1 Number Priority For Email Marketing For A Small Business

  • Build your email list.

Most businesses have a website these days. If you don’t have one then you should create one and get it up on the Internet ASAP.

I’m not going to go into all of the reasons why, just take my word for it and do it… please.

Starting a blog (short for “web log” – a personal website where you offer opinions and information on a regular basis.) will help you connect with people you can help, and those are the same people you can sell your products and services to.

How To Build Your List Fast.

The biggest mistakes for list building I see on a website, in general, involves one of two things.

  1. The website doesn’t even have a sign-up form to capture email addresses.
  2. If the website does have a sign-up for “lead capture,” it doesn’t stand out.

Always, always, always have a form to capture the email address of someone who visits your website.

A lot of people simply surf websites and if you don’t capture their email address then there’s a good chance that you’ve lost them for good.

FYI… you will build the form in your email service provider (like Aweber, Constant Contact, get Response). Then you’ll take the code for your form and place it in the appropriate place(s) on your website.

Here Are Three Good Locations To Put A Lead Capture Form On Your Website

  • Use a “Welcome Mat” or a popup.
  • At the top of your pages.
  • On the top of the sidebar (that appears on all pages).

Here’s How To Make Your Sign-Up Form Stand Out

  • Use colors that contrast with the rest of your website. Do NOT try to make your form blend in with the other elements that surround it. That’s a big mistake.
  • Keep your website design clear and uncluttered. “Busy” looking websites can confuse people, and confused people will abandon your website without signing up for your email list.

Use Incentives To Get People To Give You Their Email Address

You must see this all the time when you visit a website.

Somewhere close to the sign-up form you’ll see an incentive like a free eBook, tips, special promotions and the like as an incentive for you to give your email address and maybe your name as well.


It works… so do it.

And if you give a “digital” freebie like an eBook or a special promotion code that can be emailed to the person, they will see the relevancy of giving you their contact information and will be more likely to do so.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t use something else when email marketing for a small business. Just make sure it’s relevant.

I’m going to give you a longer list of ways to build your email list, but here’s maybe the best way for those that have physical locations like restaurants, beauty salons and weight loss clinics (as opposed to strictly online businesses).

Get customers and shoppers who walk through your door to give you their email address before they leave. Here are two easy ways to do that. All you normally have to do is ask.

  • If you’ve provided some kind of service (restaurant, spa, etc.) give the customer a comment card and ask them how you can improve your service. Then give them an incentive for giving you their email address (free desert next time, a free service upon their next visit).
  • Keep a sign-up form next to the register where the customer pays. Have the cashier tell them what the incentive is and then ask for their email address.

Let’s do the math.

If you collect an average of 10 new email addresses per day you’ll get 300 per month and more than 3,500 per year.

That’s huge, and it should take you very little effort to do it.

Other Ways For Small And Local Businesses To Build Their Email List Fast

First I’m going to get you what I believe is the second best way to build a quality email list in the shortest period of time (after collecting them yourself as mentioned above).

Partner with other businesses that serve the same market, but aren’t direct competitors. Have them introduce you to their list of buyers and you do the same for them.

Partner with dozens of them over time and watch your list grow fast and strong.

Here Are More List Building Ideas

  • Use local events you participate in to collect email subscribers.
  • Host your own events and use people’s email addresses to register them.
  • Ask for referrals from satisfied customers (give them an incentive).
  • Use your social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), especially Facebook if you have an account.
  • Have contests and drawing using email addresses for confirmation.
  • Encourage your current subscribers to forward your emails to others.
  • Use online advertising (like Google Adwords).
  • Write quality articles for websites that serve your market and offer an incentive to subscribe to your list at the end of that article.
  • Encourage email sign ups when you send direct mail.

Note: make sure that people understand that you are, in fact, adding them to your list, and tell them what they can expect to receive from you (other than just the incentive to sign up) like tips, a newsletter, your latest blog posts, etc.

One Thing You Should NEVER Do When Email Marketing For A Small Business…

  • Don’t ever buy a list of email names to sell your products to.

You’ll find businesses that will offer to sell you an email list, and you may think that sounds like a good idea, but you had better think twice before you do it.

First of all, the CAN-SPAM Act makes it clear about what you must do to send commercial email. If you miss one of the rules, then you can be in for a big fine.

Not only can breaking CAN-SPAM rules get you into legal trouble, it can damage the reputation of your business.

Some email list providers will tell you that those on their lists have opted in, so everything is good and legal.

However, it’s far better for a subscriber to opt in to the list of the business that sends the email to them… like yours.

The Key For Email Marketing For A Small Business

  • It’s all about the quality of your list.

Think quality, not quantity, if you want to increase your sales.

Adding people just for the sake of growing your list is a waste of time and effort. Make sure you give incentives that are relevant to your business, not something that will attract just anyone.

What Is “Single” vs. “Double” Opt-in?

If you’ve ever subscribed to something online you’ve probably experienced the “double” opt-in process at some time.

First, you type in your name and/or email address, then hit the submit button.

After that you get an email asking you to confirm that you wanted to opt-in to that particular website list.

So, you fill out the form and then confirm your subscription – two actions equals double opt-in.

A single opt-in just asks you to sign up without the redundant confirmation email. One action equals single opt-in.

Single Or Double Opt-in – Which Should You Use?

Personally, I’ve switched from using double opt-in to single opt-in for everything. I was losing about 30% of my subscribers because they didn’t confirm. Often because the confirmation email went to their spam folder or they just didn’t feel like following through.

Others have stated that they lose 25% – 50% of subscribers due to the double opt-in process.

The argument for double opt-in says that you’ll get a cleaner, higher quality list if you use a double opt-in process.

Single opt-in builds your list faster… much faster.

So you decide what way you want to go, single or double opt-in.

Changing from one opt-in type to the other is easy. It’s just a matter of a few clicks in your email service provider’s set up.

So, don’t worry too much about this decision. You can always change your mind.
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Here’s Your Final Assignment for email marketing for a small business…

Decide on your subscriber incentive, choose single or double opt-in and add a form to your website.

If you have a website make sure you have a sign-up form on it, and follow the location and contrast advise.
Decide what kind of incentive you’ll give for a person’s email address (think eBook, special report, contest or special promotion deal).
Decide if you’re going to use a single or double opt-in form.

That’s It! You’ve Finished The Tutorial On Email Marketing For A Small Business.

Before I go any further I just want to thank you for getting serious about email marketing for a small business. You’re going to be glad you took this important step.

Let’s Wrap It Up – Email Marketing For A Small Business

If you’re reading this – and have completed everything explained previously – then you’re ready to start working on improving the bottom line for your business.


That’s a job well done.

This tutorial has guided you through the essentials of marketing your business using email.

Just remember the acronym I shared with you earlier to develop your own successful email marketing for a small business… your small business.

Essentials of eMail marketing for a small business
Irresistible content
List building

There are plenty of ways for you to add to what you’ve learned here, and I can help you with some of them as well.

In fact, I’m in the process of developing more tutorials for owners of small and local businesses like you.

One will help you create irresistible content in a flash with templates for different types of content that are very popular and subscribers want to receive.

Now it’s time for you to get creative and ask business friends for some ideas based on their experience, do a little extra research and think about ways to tweak the process you’ve learned here to increase your sales using email marketing.

A first goal for success when email marketing for a small business should be to reach a point where you get at least 20% of your sales revenue through email marketing. Others are doing it, so why not you?

I’m excited for you.

You’re about to discover a whole new world with a lot of opportunity for improving the bottom line profitability for your business.

Have I missed anything regarding email marketing for a small business?

Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions about what I’ve shown you about email marketing for a small business.

*Disclosure: If you use the links above for Aweber, Constant Contact or Get Response I will receive a small commission, but it’s the same price to you whether I get any commission or not. If you don’t like the idea that I would get a few extra bucks then you can go direct to their website to sign up.

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Bob Hull
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