Email Marketing: Still Number 1

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Did you get a lot of marketing emails this past holiday shopping season? There’s a reason for that: Email gets people’s attention. According to the Inbox Report 2016 by Fluent LLC: more than four out of five U.S. consumers check their emails at least once a day. Two in three check it more than once per day, and 22 percent use notifications to alert them so they can check emails the minute they arrive.

For small business owners, email offers many selling points as a marketing method.

For one thing, about two-thirds (63 percent) of consumers have only one email address. That means your marketing emails stand a good chance of getting to customers’ primary email inbox.

After getting an email from a business, 42 percent of consumers are likely to visit the company website; 38 percent will likely make a purchase. Nearly half (47 percent) of consumers bought something online after getting an email; 45 percent bought something in a physical store and 38 percent made mobile purchases.

Of those who actually click on a link in an email, only about 20 percent take no further action. In other words, emails spark action!

If you want your emails to really spur sales, however, try targeting the 18- to 29-year-old demographic. The study finds this age group is the most likely to make a purchase as a result of an email message. They’re also less likely to say they get too many emails and less likely to unsubscribe from mailing lists.

Today, 67 percent of Americans say their smartphones are the dominant device they use to check their messages—far above the next most popular device, laptops. Those who typically use smartphones to check email also check it more often than people who check on a desktop or laptop.

But all is not well in email marketing land. Just 15 percent of consumers surveyed say the emails they get from businesses are useful, and 56 percent say they get too many marketing emails. As a result, half of respondents claim they rarely or never open marketing emails.

How frequently do they want to get emails? About two-thirds of respondents say the ideal frequency of marketing emails is one per month. This makes a monthly email newsletter a good vehicle for getting customers’ attention without annoying them to the point that they unsubscribe.

For best results with an email newsletter, try the following tips:

1. Make sure it’s mobile-friendly. Use responsive design, format your images so they display properly and load quickly, and include plenty of white space around call-to-action buttons or active links so they’re easy to click on. Just as important: Make sure the landing pages your email goes to are mobile-friendly, too. Otherwise, users might try to buy on their phones but not be able to.

2. Make them feel special. Special offers and discounts are the top reasons people subscribe to marketing emails. Affluent consumers care more about receiving special offers, while lower-income consumers care more about discounts. You can use these as “carrots” to entice people to sign up for your email newsletter. Once they’ve joined, however, you’ll need to go beyond just providing deals (see next step).

3. Provide useful information. Make your email newsletter stand out from the pack of marketing emails by sharing valuable information with your readers. For instance, a clothing boutique could share the latest style trends for the coming season; a toy store could give readers tips for choosing age-appropriate toys; a pest control business could advise readers what seasonal inspections they should conduct to stay pest-free. When you offer something of value—rather than just a sales pitch—recipients are more likely to save the email, read it and act on it.

Need help crafting your email marketing strategy or message? Your SCORE mentor can provide advice and insights. Visit to get matched with a mentor for free business assistance.

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