Understanding Email Marketing for Business

Unlike web design and SEO, email marketing isn't a main ingredient for online marketing. It's like fondant on a cake—surprising and lovely in moderation ... but kind of gross if it's done poorly or in excess.

Why is email marketing important?

Email marketing is an older online marketing tactic, and it can get spammy if you're not careful.

But it is still worthwhile for businesses. Email is an inexpensive and effective marketing tool, and it has potential to add real value to customers' lives.

Here are just a few reasons to consider email marketing:

  1. Cost Saving: You aren’t paying for the supplies and postage of direct mail. Even better? You own your email list, so you aren’t paying for ads on social media.
  2. High Return: A 2016 study from Direct Marketing Association showed that email marketing has a median ROI of 122% — 4x higher than social media and direct mail.
  3. Fast to produce: Compared to a direct mail postcard, emails are easy to edit and quick to customize.

Tips for Email Marketing

  1. Watch your email frequency. The #1 reason people unsubscribe from email lists is too many emails. We recommend emailing your list no more than once a week. Quality over quantity is our OMM mantra.
  2. Use images, but don’t get carried away. We are huge fans of using images to capture attention. However, images don’t automatically download in email. Use a tasteful sprinkle of images to make your email visually interesting without compromising clarity for users who don’t download them.
  3. Make it scannable. Most people won’t read your entire email. Use headings, bulleted lists, and short paragraphs so people can scan your content.

Who needs email marketing?

Almost any type of business can be successful with email marketing — you just need to know how to do it correctly!

Let's break it down for a few main business categories:


The people who join your email list rely on your expertise to help them do their jobs better, and a monthly or weekly email is a great way to provide actionable information for customers.

Consider writing tips related to your product or service or inform your readers on current events that affect your audience. 


Electrician, plumber, landscaper, or mechanic

Are there any warning signs your customers need to know so they can call you before it's too late? These are perfect topics for newsletters. Include a seasonal deal or time-sensitive coupon as your call to action.

Dentist, hair stylist, chiropractor, orthodontist, or vet

Send a customer highlight or staff profile each month to show the personal side of your business. You can also share seasonal discounts and tips related to your service.

Retail & E-Commerce

Email marketing is the perfect way to create some buzz around a new product or a big sale. You can also surprise subscribers with a coupon code only available through your newsletter. If you are an e-commerce business, be sure to include links to your online store as a call to action.


Send information about events and seasonal giving opportunities. Sort lists by your audiences (client, supporter, professionals, etc.) to make sure subscribers receive relevant content.

How can you get started with email marketing?

Talk to your online marketing advisor (aka Megan or Caitlin) to find out if email marketing is right for you. If you're on the fence, they will help you weigh the pros and cons for your specific business. We can also recommend an email marketing platform (LiveEdit has one built in that might work for your needs), help you decide on an email format, and brainstorm content ideas.

What's next?

If you enjoyed this email and know other small- to medium-sized businesses who may benefit from our No-Panic Guide to Online Marketing series, would you forward this email to them?

If your friend forwarded you this email—welcome! We hope you found us to be a helpful resource. You can keep these free tips coming by signing up for our newsletter at our website. We send emails once a month and promise to keep your email address safe.

How are you doing on your business and personal goals?

Keep the Website Current

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” — Steve Jobs

Tweet this quote!

Website design is adapting to new devices and in ways users interact with websites on those devices. As mobile devices, tablets, laptops, and desktops meld into hybrid devices, websites that are responsive to touch and have flexible design options will become more popular.

If your website was designed more than 3 years ago, you should probably start budgeting for a new design for the next couple years to adapt to responsive screen sizes.

2018 Goal Planners

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