Email Marketing for Small Businesses

You’ve always known that email marketing is very important in every business: whether you’re a big, multinational corporation or a small, hole-in-the-wall cafe. Emails generate the highest return of investment in any marketing channel (calculate your email marketing ROI here). They are far more effective than social media because it’s ability to be direct and personalized. If it works for big businesses, why not scale it down to make it work for you? We will be outlining a tutorial for Email Marketing for Small Businesses, like you, to get you started.

Contrary to what everybody believes, Email Marketing can be really cheap – hence a really good investment. You can start off as low as USD $10 or PHP 500 / month (depending on the size of your current customer’s email mailing list). Here’s a guide on how to get you started.

Step 1: Get everything ready

You should have already decided on the design of your emails. Get all the assets ready: your logos, images to be used, color palettes, text copies, ect. Before you pay for the email marketing platform, it’s best that you have something to send out on Day 1 to maximize your subscription.

Every email has its standard components: some are standards and don’t need periodic changed, some are changed every email sent. Below are the components of an email:


  1. FROM name and email address – this will show FROM WHOM the email is from. Your FROM name and email should represent your business, but you can be creative on this
  2. Date – This is usually tagged to when the email is sent out. Believe it or not, you don’t just send your emails anytime – there are best times to send out a marketing email to your customers.
  3. Subject Line – One of the important things to work out is your email’s subject line. This determines if the email gets opened or not. Spend a lot of time creating a compelling subject line, else all of your effort is for naught.
  4. Company Logo – You need to put on your branding out there, of course. Emails are one of the best tools that you can use to establish your branding.
  5. Menu Header – Similar to your website, you can put navigation bars that would open directly to your website when clicked, though this is optional as it may take away the reader on the intent of the email
  6. Hero Banner – Most marketing emails start off with a captivating image – much similar to a folded newspaper. The “above-the-fold” banner should captivate your customer enough to scroll down.
  7. Greeting – A short description of your email’s content. Your reader should be able to know immediately what to expect.
  8. Content – Put in more information about your email. At this point, you have already captured your reader’s attention and he would need to know what to do.
  9. Call-to-Action – every email has a CTA that you would like your customers to do after reading your email. This usually leads to a website where they can purchase, sign up, read more information or anything that you would want them to do for your business. Similar to the subject line, a CTA (or the offer) should be compelling enough to get them clicking.
  10. Footer – Same with the header, a footer can be standardized to go to different links: usually to your social media accounts. A good footer closes the email.
  11. Additional Footer Information – this is where your unsubscribe links would be located. Other information can be put here – like the one above requesting that your email should be added to the customer’s address book so as it doesn’t get flagged as spam.

Note that items 1, 4, 5 10 and 11 can be put in a template, which we will discuss on Step 3

Step 2: Sign up for an email marketing service

There are proper tools for every job and GMail is not an email marketing tool. If you want your marketing done properly then you should have the right tool for the job.

There are a lot of email marketing platforms out there – all would have different purposes and functions. For small businesses like you, we recommend using Active Campaign because:

  1. it is easy to use for non-programmers – no need to be technical in order for you (or your marketing staff) to use this
  2.  you can do more complex email marketing campaigns other than sending out email blasts, such as creating multiple email sending and customer journeys
  3. you can get templated email marketing automations from its marketplace developed by seasoned email marketers from around the world – no need to create and test on your own
  4. if you have programmers and web developers, they would appreciate its API
  5. it has easy-to-follow documentations – which we will link you up through this article on the next steps
  6. it also caters for B2B email marketing activities for sales people with lead scoring and other sales tools (may or may not apply to you)
  7. we are a partner reseller of the platform (a disclaimer), but do note that we have the above reasons why we love this platform so much.


Active Campaign, and all of the other email marketing platforms, are priced based on the number of subscribers you have. The more subscribers, the higher the cost, but the cost per subscriber goes down. If you do sign up, do remember that marketing programs are for the long haul, and you should have taken consideration the marketing cost you will need to undertake before proceeding.

Some Philippine businesses are not comfortable paying in US dollars, as they might have concerns with tax and accounting. If you are one of those businesses, you can contact us and we will be providing you an account and will invoice, bill you, and send BIR Official Receipt in Philippine Peso. We can also provide you a credit-based sending account in which you won’t be able to avail on Active Campaign if you sign up online.

Sign up for an Active Campaign email marketing account now.

Contact us for an Active Campaign account

Step 3: Create a standard email template (or two)

Once you have created your account, setup an email template. This ensures that your email communications would look one and the same and would play a part to your business’ overall branding. In Active Campaign, there are ready-made templates that you can choose and alter, so pick one the one best resonates your branding and modify it accordingly. You may need your designer to do this for you.

You can follow Active Campaign’s documentation on creating email templates here.

Step 4: Upload your customer email list

If you already have your list of customers at hand (preferably as an Excel sheet), then good for you! At least you can now truly start doing email marketing and reap the rewards faster. View Active Campaign’s instructions on how to upload your contact list.

A word though, that you should not buy off email lists, or scrape email addresses from other websites or sources. They are not, and were not, your customers. These type of email addresses would have low engagement responses or worse, would mark you as a spammer. Treat an email address as the actual person. Would you appreciate receiving an irrelevant, unsolicited message from a stranger? Most of you wouldn’t entertain it. Send only to contacts who have previously interacted with your business. It’s best to start off from zero and work your way through. Remember that, in business, there are no shortcuts.

Step 5: Setup your subscription methods

What if you don’t have an email list to begin with? There are a lot of (proper) ways of collecting email addresses from your customers:

  1. Setup a sign up form on your website and Facebook page. You would probably need your web developer’s help to do this, and some digital marketing experts (like us!)
  2. Put a sign up sheet on your store’s counter
  3. Put a fishbowl on your store’s counter for them to drop their business cards
  4. Run a promotion
  5. Use your in-store Wi-fi to exchange internet access for an email address

Remember that your email marketing platform cost is tied in to the number of subscribers you have, so you need to plan in the long run. Plan off first how you will able to recuperate your marketing expenses with the revenues you can generate. You can use the Email Marketing ROI calculator we just shared earlier.

There are a lot of creative ways to get your customers’ email addresses, but always remember that email addresses now are highly guarded, much like their own phone numbers. You should be able to compel your customer and provide something of value for them in exchange their email address. One of the best ways of doing this is through your Wi-fi (if you are offering free Wi-fi in your store). It’s non-intrusive and almost automatic. We’ll discuss how you can do exactly that in an another post.

Step 6: Send your first email!

Nothing feels like starting off an email marketing project with your first email send! Create your first email send letting your customers know what to expect from you! It’s good to let them know that you will be contacting them regularly through email and what to expect from each message. Start creating that first email send! As always, the best reference to know how it to consult the Active Campaign video walk through.

So you’ve sent out your first email. What’s next? In an another article, we’ve showed you on what are the other marketing emails you should be sending to increase your business’ revenues. As you progress along, you should be able to know now what to send, when to send it and to whom you will send your emails to maximize your marketing costs.

In Conclusion:

Email marketing is a long haul and you would need patience to realize any results, especially if you don’t have resources at hand. It’s not that difficult to do, but it is something that you would need to learn through experience. As time goes along, you would need to adjust your message, branding, promotions, content and communication tactics in order to become more effective. Subscribe to our digital marketing blog so that you are able to expand your knowledge in different marketing programs as well.

Like a good investment, it pays off if you know what you are getting into, else, just like a bad investment, you would just be wasting your money. There’s no real shortcut to business success. Grit, hard work, and sometimes doing something new always rewards you greatly. We are already in the digital age. Time to evaluate if your business, no matter how small or localized you are, should move and adapt to the technologies big companies have always used since the beginning of the Internet.



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