Person answering emails on phone
Email campaigns, when done correctly, can generate new leads and improve sales. — Getty Images

Email marketing is a powerful tool for small businesses. In fact, four out of five small-to-medium-sized businesses count on email as their number one customer acquisition channel. What’s more, email marketing generates a $44 return on investment for every dollar spent, on average.

But merely sending out mass emails without a carefully honed message, structure and look can backfire on your business. Many consumers receive dozens of emails a day, so getting yours to stand out from the pack can be a challenge. CO— asked three email marketing experts how to improve email marketing tactics and generate better results.

Set and stick to a single goal for each email campaign.

Your email campaign’s goal generally falls into one of two camps: generate leads or drive sales. The problem is, too many campaigns try to do both at once, which can dilute the message and negatively impact your results.

“By staying focused on one goal, you can learn about your target audience and then create the types of content and offers that customers can’t resist,” said Courtenay Worcester, director of U.S. marketing for GetResponse.

If your goal is to generate leads, you could, for example, write valuable and original content that generates your business’s expertise and the value of your services or products from the customer’s point of view.

“You should offer to provide this content in exchange for their email [addresses] and permission to continue reaching out to them on occasion with additional relevant content,” Worcester said. “Or, you could create a contest, teased in your email, that reflects the interest of your target audience and allows you to further qualify them as leads.”

Ultimately, every spoke in your lead generation campaign’s wheel should directly inspire prospects to join your mailing list. Once your lead generation goals are achieved, you can embark on your next email campaign—driving sales.

Personalization helps your brand stand out and leads to higher open rates and sales.

Kimberly Afonso, digital marketing expert

Add personalization.

Digital marketing expert Kimberly Afonso points out that consumers today expect more than generic communications and mass-produced messages. They appreciate being addressed by name and receiving information and offers relevant to their location, interests and preferences.

“Personalization helps your brand stand out and leads to higher open rates and sales. And it can be easily done using most email marketing and automation software,” said Afonso. “You can personalize based on name, location, past purchases, join or purchase date, custom offer, and other criteria.”

For instance, say you’ve collected data from patrons who RSVP’d to a future event you’re hosting and you want to convert them to a special offer. You could craft a message like:

“Hello, (first name). Thanks for registering for the (event) coming up this Tuesday! I wanted to offer you something special ahead of time. (First name), did you know how much time you could save by purchasing (describe product or service and its benefits)? Act today and we’ll reduce the price by (insert discount). Thanks! (Signed by event organizer)”

“I recommend also personalizing the email’s subject line by adding in a name field there, too, as well as emojis,” Afonso said.

Say it with video.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a video that’s valuable to your patrons can be worth a lot more. That’s because people often prefer watching a video that provides value—e.g., in the form of a brief how-to or clever or funny infomercial—over reading lengthy copy in your email.

“Today’s consumers have demonstrated a willingness and often a preference for learning about products and services via online video before making a purchase,” said Paul Entin, president of EPR Marketing. “For example, if you sell plumbing supplies, you could embed into your email a video on how to fix a leaky faucet. Or if you provide tax services, you could send a video that includes tips on how to qualify for the most deductions on your tax return.”

Your video doesn’t need to look like it was filmed in a Hollywood studio, Entin said.

“Recording footage from a single camera angle in an office or store can inexpensively demonstrate authenticity that will connect with prospects and customers,” said Entin, who includes at least one video in every email blast or e-newsletter he sends out for his clients. “It’s best to carefully pre-plan and script your video, but you can definitely do this yourself.”

CO— does not review or recommend products or services. For more information on choosing the best email marketing services, visit our friends at

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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