Email Marketing for Small Businesses

Email marketing is one of the most powerful channels available to businesses today.

In fact, conversion rates for emails are higher than social media, direct traffic, and search.

And email can help every stage of the buying journey; brand awareness, nurturing, conversion, and retention.

But it’s not as simple as drafting up an email and hitting ‘send’. Email marketing involves strategy, tactics, technology, and analysis.

In this guide, we help small businesses to get off to a postive start with their email marketing.

We will run through the benefits of email marketing, and the key steps taken to send out fantastic emails. From building a list all the way through to analysis.

For small businesses, better starts here.

What are the benefits of email marketing?

We may be biased, but we firmly believe that email is one of the most beneficial marketing channels available to small businesses today.

Here are just a few of the benefits that our small business clients experience:

Low cost

With email, there are no expensive overheads or fees.

Email doesn’t even have to be resource-intensive. Once you have signed up with a reputable ESP (email service provider), you can utilise email templates, editors, and automation to take care of much of the hard work, without having to hire additional resource.

Drives revenue

Marketing Week reports that email generates around £29bn retail sales annually.

That’s because the buying journey is so simple with email. By sending targeted emails with engaging calls to action, recipients can go from checking their inbox to buying a product in just a couple of clicks.

Reach an engaged audience

Email is one of the only marketing channels which recipients ask to receive. By conducting best practice email marketing, you would only be sending messages to recipients who have signed up to receive them.

Meaning that time and money spent on email marketing is being spent on the most responsive audience. As opposed to those who are less likely to engage and make a purchase.

Deliver targeting messages

Key to engaging with any audience is delivering messages and marketing that are relevant to their wants and needs.

With email marketing, you can utilise data from demographics, behaviour, purchases, and email engagement, to ensure the messages being sent are relevant and targeted to the individual.

Unrivalled return on investment

Above all other goals and KPIs, return on investment is arguably the most important.

Fortunately, according to the DMA the return on investment for email is £35 for every £1 spent.

Meaning that even though email marketing is low cost. You are almost guaranteed to generate ROI from the money you do invest in the channel.

Building an email list

Now, before we can get carried away with sending email campaigns, we need an audience to actually send to.

To achieve this, you will need to build up an email list. This refers to a list of contacts who have actively opted in to receive your email communications.

Email sign up

The most straightforward way to build an email list is to create an email sign up form.

This can be added to your website and social media channels, and asks for simple details such as email address and first name.

Lookfantastic sign up form

Lead magnet

A lead magnet offers the recipient something in return for their email address.

This could be entry into a competition, free content, access to events, or an online tool.

Lead Magnet example


You can even promote email sign up in your offline stores.

For instance, you could add QR codes at the checkout that users can scan to navigate to an email sign up form.

Or, employees at the checkout could ask customers if they would like to sign up for email updates at the point of purchase.


One important note, when gathering email addresses for your email list, you must follow GDPR guidelines. It’s the law.

In basic terms, this means that recipients are 100% opted into your email communications, and that you have proof that this is the case.

However, for more in-depth information you can read our guide to Getting ready for GDPR.

Creating an email

Now you have your email list, you can get started with the exciting part.

It’s time to flex those creative muscles and start building your email.


The first step in creating (and sending) an email is deciding on the ESP (email service provider) that you want to use. This will be the system from which you design, create, and send your emails from.

And depending on the ESP you choose, you can improve your email sophistication through personalisation, segmentation, and automation. Which we will talk about shortly.

A good ESP, such as Pure360, will give you access to a whole host of features and functionality, such as Drag & Drop Editors and AI capabilities, which will help to make email creation a breeze.

To help you navigate the process of switching ESP we’ve created this handy guide.


Designing an email template that engages with your audience is one of the most important elements of email marketing strategy.

There are lots of elements to consider in email design. As well as ensuring your template is on brand, you will need to consider image to text ratio, white space, call to action colours, amongst other things.

If that sounds a little overwhelming, don’t worry. Our Email Marketing Template Playbook can help you to get your design started.

Subject lines

You can have the most beautifully designed email, but if the subject line doesn’t engage the recipient, then your email won’t even be opened.

In fact, 47% of email recipients open emails based on the subject line.

There are lots of tried and tested ways to create the best subject lines, such as using emojis, avoiding ‘spammy’ words, keeping it short but sweet. But we would always recommend testing your subject lines with your own audience to see what works best for them, which we will talk about later in this guide.


Personalisation is the secret weapon of email marketers.

It allows them to add elements specific to the recipient into their emails, without having to manually change the email copy or imagery each time.

You can easily include first name personalisation in the subject line or copy of an email with custom fields.

Or, if you wish to be more advanced, you can add dynamic content blocks to your email, that when connected with data sources can automatically populate emails with information specific to the recipient. This could be products, imagery, or copy.

We appreciate if you’re just starting out that may sound a little daunting, so why not check out our blog post on how to get started with personalisation?

Sending email

Congratulations! You’ve crafted your perfect email. To ensure it gets the engagement it deserves, follow these steps to email send.


“What is the best time to send an email?” is one of the most common questions we get asked.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. The best time is completely depending on the brand, audience, and type of email.

Therefore, we suggest testing out different sending times to build up your own knowledge of what works best for your audience.

And once you have built up a decent amount of sends, you can use Intelligent Time Sending to automatically ensure each email is sent to each recipient at the time they are most likely to open.


We previously talked about adding personalisation to your emails. If this feels a little advanced to begin with, then segmentation is the perfect alternative.

Segmentation refers to breaking up your email database into smaller lists (or segments) based on commonalities. This could include demographics such as age and gender, interests, or location.

You can then send out different emails to these segments. Which improves the relevancy and targeting of your communications, without too much effort.

Segmented Campaign Example


Automation is the ultimate time-saver for email marketers.

It is what enables marketers to send an email as soon as a recipient makes an action, such as purchasing a product. And it also helps marketers to continuously keep in touch with their audience via email, without the resource needed for manual sends.

For small businesses, a great place to start out is with welcome campaigns and post-purchase follow-ups.

Welcome campaigns can be automatically sent to new customers or new email signs ups, introducing them to your brand and sharing key information.

Post-purchase follow-ups engage with customers to inform them that their purchase has been successful, and send them relevant delivery updates.

When you become more comfortable with automation, you can become more sophisticated and set up abandoned browse and basket campaigns, anniversary celebrations, and replenishment campaigns.

To find out more about automation, you can check out our Email Marketing Automation Playbook for 2021.

Welcome Campaign - Charlotte Tilbury

Analysing email results

Once your email has been sent, the hard work doesn’t stop there.

The next step is to analyse results to continue to monitor and improve your email marketing.


The KPIs you choose are dependent on your business goals, which we discussed at the start of this guide.

Be careful not to overwhelm yourself with too many meaningless KPIs, and instead focus on the key ones.

Some of the most useful metrics to set KPIs for include:

  • Open rate – how many recipients opened your email
  • Click through rate – how many recipients clicked on links in your email
  • Unsubscribe rate – how many recipients unsubscribed from an email
  • Spam rate – how many recipients have marked your email as spam

If you are experiencing high spam rates, we recommend pausing your email campaigns and reviewing your data. As high spam rates can negatively impact your deliverability.

You can read our Essential Guide to Email Marketing Metrics to learn more.


By testing different elements of email, you can soon identify what is more popular with your audience and generates the best results.

There are endless elements that can be tested in email. But some of the most important include subject lines, call to action, imagery, and (as previously mentioned) timing.

Any good ESP will provide you with A/B testing capabilities, which allows you to send two different variants of an email to a portion of an email list. It will then identify the best performing email, and send it to the remainder of the list.


Email deliverability literally means the success you have in getting your emails in the inbox.

This can be determined by reviewing metrics such as:

  • Open rate
  • Spam rate
  • Hard bounce rate
  • Soft bounce rate

We have already covered the first two metrics in this guide. Bounce rates, on the other hand, refer to emails that weren’t able to be delivered.

They can be split into hard and soft bounces. Hard bounces refer to emails that are permanently undeliverable. This is often due to sending to email addresses that are no longer in use and have been shut down.

These hard bounces can be resolved by removing those email addresses from your database.

Soft bounces are a little bit more complex. They refer to emails that are temporarily undeliverable, which can be due to a number of factors such as a full inbox, a mail server that is down, or an email that is too large.

However, they can also be spam-related, such as if your domain, IP address, or sending address has been blacklisted. Therefore, if you are seeing a high soft bounce rate, it’s a good idea to review your emails for any potential triggers.

Our Demystifying Deliverability Guide is a good place to start in this instance. 


Once your email has actually been delivered, you will want to review if it’s actually being engaged with.

As well as open rate, click through rate is the most common form of engagement metric in email. And it literally refers to how many recipients have clicked a link on your email.

Your click through rate can be dependent on many different factors. Many of which we cover in this blog post. But our overall advice is to have a clear objective in your email, ensure that your CTA (call to action) stands out and offers a clear instruction, and to personalise the message as much as possible, whether that be send time or the content of your email.

Are you a small business looking to get started with email marketing?

Or maybe you’ve already made the first steps, but want to improve.

Whatever your challenge, Pure360 can be on hand to help.

We offer an all-in-one AI email and web marketing platform alongside a Customer Success Team whose sole mission is to get you better results.

Get in touch to find out more.

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