Email Marketing for Small Business-What You Need to Know and the 2 Common Mistakes to Avoid


“The money is in the list”.

This is a phrase that you will read and hear regularly when you being to learn how to market online. “The list” is a list of subscribers generated from your website or blog.

And here’s a challenge for you: go to the website or blog of any guru, expert or thought leader in any aspect of social media marketing and observe what is the one thing they want you to do.

Yes, sign up for their list.

So they can engage with you, and convince and convert through email marketing.

Ironic, isn’t it?

Anyway, you may offer a “newsletter” as an incentive to get people to sign up.

But, quite frankly, this will be a waste of time because “newsletters” simply don’t cut it now: people don’t want industry news or news about you or your company.

They want to know “what’s in it for me if I sign up?”.

So, your ethical bribe must be genuinely useful to the subscriber.

This list, then, can be golden and one of the most valuable assets in your business, depending on your business, if you understand how to use email marketing properly.

Because email marketing, also known as autoresponder marketing, can be the most effective, cost efficient method of marketing your business.

This is especially true if you are a professional service provider such as solicitor, consultant, hr professional, barrister, accountant, marketing professional, trainer, etc.

How Does Email Marketing Work?

Firstly, you open an account with an autoresponder/email marketing provider such as Aweber or MailChimp or Constant Contact.

Once you open your account, which costs less than €20 per month, you load up your account, or more specifically your marketing campaign, with a series of emails.

These emails can be a series of helpful tips and information which would be helpful and informative for your target market.

You can set up as many messages or emails as you like and determine the intervals at which they go out to your customer/lead.

I would recommend writing your emails before asking anyone to sign up as a subscriber. This allows you to deliver real value from the outset rather than noticing that you have 10 subscribers at the end of the week and you are now wondering what to send them in your email.

Once you have written your first handful of emails you will need to build your list of subscribers.

To do this you need to create the valuable, ethical bribe I spoke about earlier.(More about that below).

You then create a form in your email software account and place the piece of code generated on your website. This allows visitors to submit their name and email to sign up and receive useful information, tips, solutions to problems, and so forth from you on a regular basis.

Once they have submitted this information your emails in your campaign which you will have set up already will receive your messages on autopilot.

Keep this at the forefront of your mind: your messages need to be useful and informative, not spammy or relentlessly “salesy”.

There’s nothing wrong with selling and it’s not a dirty word.

But you do need to build your authority and trust in the first place, and you need to earn the right to make a pitch.

Once your emails are useful, helpful and genuinely informative you will build trust with your leads and eventually convert a good percentage of them into loyal customers.

We all know that we buy more from people that we know and trust.

The purpose of the email series is to build a relationship and trust with your potential customers and those who have expressed an interest in what you have to offer.

How To Build Your List of Subscribers

The key to getting sign ups is to give something away for free in return for the name and email. This could be a short report or other freebie that would be of interest to your target market.

It must be of genuine value.

If you are in the diy market for example you could create a short, free report with valuable tips for refurbishing your bathroom or kitchen. Once the person submits their details they will automatically receive the report from your email/autoresponder provider.

If you an accountant you could do a report such as “6 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Tax Bill” or “How to Choose an Accountant/Financial Advisor for Your Business”.

An Irish Example of Email Marketing in Action

Take a look at my site

At the top and bottom of every page on the site you will see an email opt in form.

In return for giving their email address and becoming a subscriber, the visitor receives a
“free copy of “The 16 Common Employment Law Mistakes that Most Irish Employers Make” and my regular money saving employment law tips via email.”

This report appeals to both employers and employees and even though it is a simple, short report about common mistakes made by employers it still appeals to the visitor.

Because there is a benefit to the employer and an element of curiosity also-the employer is wondering whether he makes one of these 16 mistakes.

Once the reader signs up he also receives useful tips about employment law, pitfalls to avoid, common problems in employer/employee relations, and so forth.

As I write this today in September, 2015 I have over 2,000 subscribers to this list, and there are 62 email messages which go out on autopilot.

The messages are sent at intervals of 3-5 days but you can choose any interval period you wish-for example once weekly- and automate it.

You will see from the screenshot that there are currently over 1,100 subscribers to this list. And it just grows day after day on autopilot.

Email Marketing Benefits

The reality is nobody is going to buy from your website first time, especially if you are selling a high value product or service.

You will need multiple interactions to build the necessary trust and confidence from your lead.

But many leads simply won’t have the funds to buy first time, even if they are completely convinced that you are the right person for them and you understand their problem.

So you need a way to be there, or at least in their memory, when they are in a position to buy.

Blogging and email marketing is perfect for this.

The options for your email campaigns include sending your subscribers

  • Regular email newsletters (but you need more than news-you need to deliver real value)
  • Valuable hints and tips to help your subscriber with whatever problems they face in their daily life
  • Promotional material and special offers
  • Updates about changes in your company or organisation. However the likelihood is that nobody cares about your company, except maybe your competitors, or your significant other or your mother.

Remember: people are only interested in this question: “what’s in it for me”.

So if you are asking people to “sign up for our newsletter” with no benefit or reason for the reader to do so, you simply won’t get subscribers.

This is why the valuable “freebie” is essential to grow your list.

Features of Email Marketing

Once you do begin to grow your list, no matter how small, the benefits are obvious and immediate:

1. It’s a cost effective way of communicating with your subscribers, fans, potential customers/clients and existing clients;

2. Easily target specific groups of your list members with messages specifically for them;

3. The results are measurable with great reporting statistics about how many people received and opened your message, how many clicks on any links in your message, and so on.

A Good Email Marketing Strategy

A good email marketing strategy should be about delivering value to your subscribers and not spamming them. Genuinely helpful tips and information for your target market about dealing with their particular “pain” is vital.

The best and most effective email marketing strategy in the long run is to use email to build a relationship with your list, demonstrate your company’s trust and authority and increase the lifetime value of each subscriber on your list.

Banging out email pitches in a relentless way will only see the number of complaints and unsubscribed from your list render your email marketing counterproductive.

Getting new subscribers onto your list should be the principal goal of your website/blogging efforts.

2 Widespread Email Marketing Mistakes

The 2 common mistakes, as you will no doubt have learned, are

1. Encouraging people to “sign up for our newsletter”-this isn’t good enough.

Nobody wants to know that you have a new product or a new secretary or a new; the reader wants to know what’s in it for her if she signs up. Will you make her life easier, will you show him how to make more money, will you tell him how to reduce costs, will you give her some useful tips to become more popular, appreciated, loved?

2. Bombarding your subscribers with promotions and sales pitches; what you need to do is build trust and authority by providing helpful, useful information for your readers to help them solve their common problems.

What To Do To Get Started

To get started today, think about 5-10 things that your potential clients worry about and consider carefully how you could help them if they were subscribers to your list.

These 5-10 things would form the basis of your first emails to your new list members.

You then need to create the valuable gift or ethical bribe to get visitors to sign up and the emails themselves.

Can’t think of 5-10 things that worries your potential client/customer?

Think of the 1 thing that keeps her awake at night.

Yes, 1 thing, and show her how to reduce or eliminate the fear.


If you want to see email marketing in action you can sign up for my list on this site, or this one, or any of these free reports on this page.