Email marketing can make a huge difference for you as a small business owner.

Campaign Monitor shares that “email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter.” For every $1 spent on email marketing, the average return on investment is $38, giving email marketing a whopping 3,800 per cent average return on investment (ROI). This means that it is definitely worth your while to put the time into starting an email list.

I know, we’ve all been on the other side of email marketing. I can’t count the number of times I’ve visited a website and been asked to subscribe to an email list. I couldn’t tell you the number of times I have declined without a second thought.

On one hand, I can count the number of times I’ve said yes and handed out my email address.

There are strategies that make email marketing effective, and implementing them is essential to get people to say yes and hit that subscribe button rather than moving on without looking any further at your content.

Here are five tips to growing your subscriber base with email marketing.


  1. Not every email needs to sell something (in fact, most shouldn’t)


Your business is more than just a machine trying to get people to buy things. It is a reflection of your business’ goals, passions, and priorities. Use that to your advantage!

Sending out surveys asking for suggestions on how to make your services better is a good way of revealing that your goal is to create a good experience for your customers. Consider also sending out games, blog posts, business updates (what have you been working on lately?), and anything else that may uniquely suit you and your customer base.

With all this in mind, remember not to go overboard with the number of emails sent out. No matter how good your content is, if subscribers begin to feel overwhelmed or spammed by what you send you will see a lot of people begin to unsubscribe. While it’ll be different for everyone, a good rule of thumb is to send out an email once a week – you can scale up or down from there.

Basically what it comes down to is remembering your readers’ needs and desires. If your emails line up with those, you will be going strong.


  1. Share content that will sell what appeals to your ideal audience


It doesn’t matter how many emails you are sending out if none of them generate interaction or sales. Your emails should appeal to the people who will buy what you are selling – whether you’re literally selling something or not.

A practical way to do this is to offer exclusive incentives to your email subscribers, and make sure that people who haven’t subscribed yet know what they’re missing. If you have an intangible service product that doesn’t make direct sales, such as a blog, try advertising exclusive content.

These things can be extra work, but sacrificing a little time is well worth the following you can gather from consistently delivering great content.


  1. Don’t be afraid to get personal


Knowing how people are interacting with your website can help you use emails to not only sell products and reveal the core of your business, but also to help users individually. There are several methods of doing this, though don’t let the examples I list here limit you.

Suppose a user on your website is checking a product out but fails to complete the transaction. By sending an email you can accomplish a couple different things. If they were confused about how to finish their purchase, included directions can show how to reach their goal. If they forgot about the purchase and never completed it, a gentle reminder can regenerate forward motion. Baymard estimates that $260 billion in sales is recoverable through checkout optimizations – imagine what that could do for your online sales!

If it was neither of those things and they simply decided not to go through with the purchase, you can use your email to redirect them to a survey asking what it was that made them decide against it, improving your marketing going forward.

A couple more general ideas include birthday messages with discounts, announcements of sales on products that the user expressed specific interest in, and more.

Use your knowledge of your business and customers to bend this to work for you. This will keep your emails effective and relevant.


  1. Use the know-like-trust factor


This concept combines some of the things mentioned above, so if you would like, take a minute to review.

Like I mentioned under the first point, your business does a lot more than sell things. It represents you. If people like that representation, they are much more likely to go to you when they see a need that you can fulfill, and if that interaction goes well, you are on a path to building trust that will bring repeat customers.

That’s the basic concept of the know-like-trust factor. Let’s zero in on that “know” factor a little bit.

Potential customers need to know a couple different things about your business before they are willing to buy from you. Seeing your business’ personality, goals, passions, even sense of humour help them to learn more about you. Less overt things like branding also have a huge impact. Your emails can help communicate this knowledge, especially to people who haven’t taken the time to thoroughly inspect your website’s content.

Don’t forget the other two points of this. People knowing about your company is half the battle, but if they don’t like or trust it then none of that matters. Always be aware of what you’re communicating – inside your emails and out!


  1. Know how to grow your subscriber base


One of the easiest ways to do this is to make available to your email subscribers something that can be found nowhere else. This could be exclusive content or business news, promotions and discounts, opportunities to participate in contests and webinars.

Offer an easier or better way to access something that your ideal customer needs, and soon you’ll have a growing customer base composed of the kind of people you want drawn to your business.

If you’ve been doing all of these things and your email subscriptions haven’t taken off, don’t be discouraged: building that audience takes time. Stay true to the nature of your business and keep learning new things, and you’ll find that, while it may have taken a while, the subscriber base that you’ve grown reflects exactly the demographics you want it to.

Remember these tips and you’ll be well on your way to a long list of email subscribers. With plenty of promotions and opportunities to interact the strong connection between you and your customers will keep them coming back!


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Collin Belt is the Chief Design Strategist & Founder of Ice Nine, a design strategy studio that helps businesses and agencies skyrocket their inbound leads through web strategy, and deliver stunning proposals with killer close rates using Proposify. Collin is also a tech enthusiast, highly-caffeinated Starbucks addict, and champion for business owners everywhere. He can be reached a variety of ways: email:; phone: +1 778-300-0648; twitter:; facebook: