Affiliate Marketing Disclosure: One of the ways I make money in my business is through affiliate marketing. If you click a link marked with * I may get a thank you payment for any action you take on that site (like subscribing, taking a free trial, or buying a product). You can read more about this in my Affiliate Marketing Beginner’s Guide.

Getting Started With Email Marketing For Your Small Business

You can start building your email list, and connect with potential customers in just three steps.

Step 1 - Understand how email marketing works - more on that here:

Step 2 - Pick an email marketing platform - I’m gonna help you with that right now.

Step 3 - Create a way for people to add themselves to your email list. This can be through a simple sign-up box on your website. Or for faster email list building you may want to offer a freebie to tempt them (known as a lead magnet).

*** Get Your First 100 Email Subscribers ***

Free step-by-step workbook showing you how to write your landing page, lead magnet and follow-up emails to get your first 100 email subscribers.

Email Marketing Software - What it is and why your small business needs it

As a freelancer, I dealt with all my contacts individually. If I needed to send the same info to them, it was no bother to copy and paste the text a dozen times into personalized emails, or even BCC my little list if I was feeling particularly lazy/pushed for time.

But once I established Worditude Ltd and started marketing my services, I needed a way of efficiently capturing the contact details of mildly interested persons, and a method for keeping in touch with them - I needed my first email marketing service.

Your email marketing platform will provide you with:
♦ Forms to place on your website to capture email subscriber info
♦ A secure place to store this data
♦ The ability to send ‘broadcast’ style emails out - where you send the same email out to all your list (or selected sections) at the same time.
♦ A system to automate your emails so they’re sent to subscribers based on their behaviour - eg sending a pre-written email immediately after they’ve requested a particular freebie, or so many weeks after buying something from you.
♦ Reports showing you how your emails are performing, and information about your subscribers’ behaviour.

In short, instead of managing your relationships one-by-one, an email marketing software helps you manage your connections with thousands of people at a time.

How To Choose Your First Email Marketing Provider For Your Small Business

This isn’t a list of every single email marketing service offering a free trial or free user-level. I’ve focussed on those best suited to beginners based on my own use, plus feedback I’ve had from my clients and business contacts.

It’s worth keeping in mind that once you start with an email marketing service, you aren’t tied in for life. You can transition from one platform to another, although there is work involved so I wouldn’t make a habit of it.

Go through the sales pages for each of the services listed below and pay attention to the features listed - think about how you could use them in your business now or in the very near future.

There’s a trade-off to consider. First time users don’t want to be confused by lots of features, making the cheaper, more basic platforms more attractive….which means at some point you’re likely to outgrow your choice solution and need something more substantial.

Features To Look For In Your Free Email Marketing Service

Firstly, make sure all the features you want to make use of are included in the free version of the platform. You won’t learn much about the service if you’re heavily restricted during the trial period.

When choosing which service to trial, consider…

♦ How easy is it to track where your subscribers have come from (so you can see which freebies and forms are working for you)?

♦ Are you able to dig into individual subscribers and see which emails they have received, opened and clicked on? I find this so useful when a new VIP signs up I can see how long they’ve been on the list for and the emails they’ve read - it helps me get a feel for what’s working.

♦ How easy is it to segment your list and send out marketing emails only to certain people? For example, can you send an email just to subscribers who came in on a particular opt-in, or clicked on a certain link in your last email?

♦ How much support is there for the platform you’ve chosen? Consider official support direct from the company; free guidance via videos and blog posts; and third party premium support, like Elizabeth Goddard’s Convertkit Club.

♦ How much control do you have over the visual appearance of forms and emails?

♦ Can you create separate landing pages for new sign-ups, as well as forms to embed on a website page/post?

♦ Does the service integrate with other platforms you use like Shopify, or Thinkific?

Top 5 Email Marketing Services That Let You Get Started For Free

Active Campaign
Great for ecommerce businesses who want to send emails based on subscriber’s onsite behaviour. Also enables you to use a chat facility on your website.

If this seems a bit heavy duty for you to get started with, but looks like something you’d like to come back to when your business is more established, they offer(at time of writing, September 2018) a free transfer service to help you make the jump from another email marketing service.

Constant Contact*
Great for customization if the visual appearance is a priority for you - especially if your business is based around style and design - with easy drag-and-drop email builder. Also good for online retailers. Start your 30-day free trial here*.

You can start free for 14 days (which isn’t that long to get a feel for it really) and then pricing starts at $29 per month and rises according to how many subscribers you have. I love the tagging feature which enables me to track subscribers, the email content they’ve consumed, and really get a feel for what’s working for my business. I found it fairly easy to get started with. Video on tags and link triggers below to give you a feel for the types of automations possible. Start your 14-day trial here*.

Mailchimp has a free plan up to 2000 subscribers, but with restricted features. This is a bit of a pain because you can’t get a feel for how all the different bells and whistles could help you market your business. But if you want something simple and easy, that’ll be free to use for a good long while, this is a great place to get started.

This is free for the first 1000, which will give you plenty of time to get used to the platform. I’ve heard plenty of feedback that this is great for small businesses getting started with email marketing. It has plenty of features you can try out to see how to make them work for your business.

*** Get Your First 100 Email Subscribers ***

Free step-by-step workbook showing you how to write your landing page, lead magnet and follow-up emails to get your first 100 email subscribers.

* Links marked with an asterisk are affiliate links. This means that if you buy something from that website, I may get a ‘thank you’ commission for referring you. This is at no extra cost to you.

Find out more about affiliate marketing and how you could add this passive income stream to your business.

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