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Email Marketing for the Small Business
Whitney Hutchinson | May 2008
From insurance and real estate agents to the florist down the street and the local café, small
businesses are all around us. Recently I’ve had a lot of inquiries about how, if at all, a small
business should utilize email marketing.
First, unequivocally, small businesses should utilize email marketing. It’s inexpensive, relatively
easy to execute on, and a great way to keep in contact with your customer base. The key for the
small business owner/marketer is to create a plan, keep it relevant and don’t overcomplicate
So where does a small business start with email? Begin with a plan. Make sure that you don’t
just start “blasting” email to your customer base – instead sit down and create a clear plan of
attack. Write down your goals and objectives and then start building a contact plan and calendar
that makes sense (see my Email Insider article dated 6/11/07 about building a contact plan).
Make sure you think strategically about your customers, such as how they might be segmented
and what messaging will be relevant to them. Finally, make sure you are very specific in your
goals and objectives – sales, cost savings, growth, retention – and that for each goal you have a
measure for success.
Once you have a plan and a supporting calendar, you can start building out your creative. There
is a mass of free information in the marketplace to help you learn best practices: Email
Experience Council (www.emailexperience.org), Direct Marketing Association (www.the-dma-
org), past Email Insider columns, your Email Service Provider (ESP) if you have one, or just
simply search on “email creative best practices” and dive into the many whitepapers on the
The key is to keep it simple. It may be that you build a one-size-fits-all template to use for your
newsletter and promotional messaging. Or better yet, tap into one of th