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Does Email Marketing Work for Small Businesses?

email-marketingIf you’re a small-business owner trying to hone your marketing efforts, you’ve probably read plenty of articles about social media marketing, advertising through search providers, and making your website mobile-friendly. Compared to these promotional efforts, email marketing might seem a little… old fashioned. But consider this: there are more than 1 billion email users in the world, and many small-business owners are finding out that marketing through email can deliver an excellent ROI.

How Email Marketing Works

Email marketing involves sending marketing materials directly to targeted lists of prospects. Lists can be purchased online, but experts caution that that’s not usually the best way to go about it, as sending out massive amounts of emails to lists containing lots of “dead” addresses is likely to get your email marketing campaign flagged as spam by ISPs. Electing to only email recipients who have opted in results in better conversion rates and a higher level of engagement.

Prospects can be targeted by age, gender, family status, income, occupation, location, and other characteristics. Creating marketing materials tailor-made for different market segments is an excellent way to boost conversion rates.

The types of promotional materials distributed via email marketing vary, but some common ones include:

  • Surveys
  • Invitations to Special Events
  • Newsletters
  • Updates on New Products
  • Sale Notifications

Advantages Over Other Forms of Marketing

In the days before email became so prevalent, direct marketing usually involved either placing a great many telephone calls or sending out mailers to a list of prospects. These strategies could be effective when executed well, but many consumers found them wasteful and obtrusive.

Email marketing has several advantages over previous types of direct marketing. It doesn’t waste paper, which consumers appreciate, and it doesn’t interrupt them in the middle of dinner, as they are free to read the marketer’s message whenever it’s convenient for them.

Email marketing campaigns are also more cost-effective than paying for printing and postage, and it takes far less time (and rejection) than being hung up on over and over again. Tracking the results of email marketing efforts can be done very easily, and marketers are able to tell which emails were deleted or went to inactive addresses, and which ones were actually opened and acted upon.

It may come as a surprise, given all the coverage that social media and search marketing get, but email marketing is actually 10 times as effective in driving sales conversions than either of them. Small businesses who aren’t already doing so would do well to consider adding email marketing to their marketing strategies.


John R. Klaras is a serial entrepreneur and small business professional, a writer, and an educator by trade. With nearly a decade of experience in the telecommunications industry, he is currently in the process of building a burgeoning new microbusiness. He has written for leading companies in a wide variety of verticals, including travel, finance, motorsports, and real estate.