As someone marketing a small business, you may be on the lookout for the next big thing, hoping to find a silver bullet or advanced strategy to use in 2016.

The truth is you probably don’t need any of those things.

If you’re using email marketing to get the word out about your small business and retain existing customers, you already have a strong foundation in place.

(If you’re not using email marketing, get started here.)

In either case, before you go looking for a new trend or strategy, you should take some time to review that you’re making the most of the fundamentals of email marketing.

Here’s how to get started.

Are you and your staff collecting email addresses at every opportunity, online and offline?

“One of the first things we did was to start collecting email addresses through social media. But we also started collecting email addresses whenever someone would come in to the gym. Our last email we sent to just under 9,000 people.” Jared Rigby, River Rock Climbing

A simple sign-up sheet near your register is a great start. You also need a process in place to upload contacts regularly to your email list.

Make it easier on yourself by using the Constant Contact List Builder app, or set up the Text-to-Join feature, so people can join your list right from their mobile phone.

Hang signs around the store and train all employees on how to ask for email addresses. Be sure to lead by example.

And don’t forget to include an embeddable sign-up form on every page of your website.

What will that do for you?

It’s simple. You know once someone enters your store you’re more likely to make a sale. But what happens once they leave the store? Is the great shopping experience you’ve provided enough to bring them back again and again?

If they’re on your email list, you’re able to contact them in a place they visit every day — the inbox. You have a way to entice them to do business with you again.

Isn’t that better than just hoping they’ll be back?

If growing your email list hasn’t been a priority for you in the past, there’s no better time than now. Ask for those email addresses.

Are you engaging with your customers on a regular basis?

This means both on social and via email. If you’re doing just one, you’re leaving money on the table.

Consider these stats:

  • Email is almost 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined in helping your business acquire new customers. (McKinsey, 2014)
  • 66 percent of online consumers have made a purchase as a result of an email marketing message. (Direct Marketing Association, 2013)
  • Small businesses that use multiple methods and channels in conjunction with email reported more customer engagement (73 percent), more new customers (57 percent), more website traffic (54 percent), more revenue (40 percent), and more referrals (39 percent). (Constant Contact, 2014)

You don’t have to be on every social channel. Pick one that makes sense for your customers and your time. Use that social channel to engage with your customers and prospects with the goal of getting them to subscribe to your email list so you can contact them more directly.

Send at least one email a month. Consistency builds trust and keeps your business top of mind without overwhelming your email contacts. You may have reasons to send more frequently, but once a month should be your minimum.

That sounds like a lot of work.

Your emails don’t need to be an opus. You want them to be well written and show your business personality, but hours and hours to prepare? No. At Constant Contact, data has shown that emails with a picture, a paragraph, and a call to action get the most engagement.

It’s likely you could create smaller emails from the longer ones you’re already creating and send at a more consistent frequency with little extra work.

Are you measuring, reviewing, and repeating what works best?

Look for the impact email marketing has on your business. Connect email marketing activities to the actions people take that benefit your business beyond opens and clicks.

Based on your goals consider measuring things such as:

  • Website visits
  • Purchases
  • Feedback
  • Event attendance
  • Perception changes
  • List growth
  • More sales of a specific product

How can you determine where to make adjustments?

Focus on what’s working well to see if you can make adjustments that will impact your results even more.

Why? We often focus on what’s not working. The problem with that is there are too many variables that affect why something isn’t working. It may not be a marketing problem. If you make adjustments to things that are working it’s easier to attribute the outcome to the change you made. Now you’ve gained useful insights.

What if you’re already doing these things?

Congratulations! If you’re truly making the most of the fundamentals above, now you apply what you’ve learned to other marketing initiatives.


Focus on what is proven to bring a return to your business.

  • Build customer connections so you have a consistent way to contact your customers where they go every day — the inbox.
  • Engage with your customers. Use emails, surveys, events, coupons, sweepstakes and any other methods you have available to encourage existing customers to do business with you again (and to tell their friends about you).
  • Pay attention to the impact these actions have on your business and do more of what’s working.

What should you do now?

Pick one thing from above. Commit to spending at least 15 minutes thinking through how to take action.

In the coming weeks and months, be on the lookout for more posts and tools to help you make progress in each of these areas in increments of 15 minutes or less.

A good foundation makes for a strong business.

Once your marketing foundation is strong, you’ll be in a better position to branch out into new areas. You’ll be able to apply what you’ve learned to make smarter decisions about where to go next.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned about your marketing efforts? Where will you be focused next? Tell us in the comments.