Email Marketing Generates $38 for Every $1 Spent

It’s true—and it’s an average among companies that use email marketing, meaning that you can still get a higher return on investment from your email marketing.

So why do people spaz out over the latest social media feature when email marketing for small business works way better?

Good question.

That’s the question hardly anyone asks, but it’s the key to scaling your operation. Email should be a core remarketing strategy for every kind of business—making it one of the most important ones in the small business marketing playbook.

Follow along to see how you can get $38 back on every $1 you spend with it.

Email Reaches Customers Where They Live

Marketing is about sending the right message to the right person in the right place at the right time. That’s also true of sales (which is why good marketing feeds into your sales funnel with qualified leads).

Everybody has an email address, which means you’re always reaching people where they live. They need emails for work, to shop on Amazon, to do online banking, and to use any of the apps on their smartphones.

For the smart cookies who sign up for apps with Facebook: you need an email address to use that, too.

People use email for business and purchases on a monthly basis—sometimes even daily. Inserting yourself into their inbox at the right time of day with a solution to their problem is very possible—and yes, modern email marketing platforms let you see when your audience opens their emails (but not individually—that would be creepy).

Email Is the Most Cost-Effective Remarketing Channel

Cost is always relative to your return on investment, which makes email marketing a go-to strategy for small and medium businesses.

The low cost isn’t just relative for email marketing, either. Certain email platforms out there are actually quite affordable—as low as $11 per month to get started on your first marketing list.

Pro Tip: Stay away from bloated email platforms for enterprise, like Infusionsoft. You can get much better value for your money with ActiveCampaign (our personal favourite) or Drip.

Your costs will rise with the size of your email list, but it’s still pretty low. The ActiveCampaign pricing system starts off at $9 USD per month for a list of 500 contacts. It only increases to $17 USD per month when you hit 1,000 contacts, while a database of 10,000 contacts only costs $117 USD per month.

The best part is that you own your email lists, and no one can take them away from you. Growing a serious social media following on Facebook or Twitter requires money just to acquire followers (combined with genuinely good content and social savvy), and then they want you to keep paying into their ad platforms every time you want to reach them.

What’s better: pouring $200 per week into Facebook for a chance to reach prospects, or paying $17 per month to land right in their inboxes? Social media will only ever be leased space, whereas your email lists are yours forever.

It’s no contest.

Email Automation Removes Tedious Administration

Perhaps the greatest thing about email marketing is that you can automate it to a large degree.

Your first baby steps will be creating email templates that you can re-use for a consistent brand presence in your prospects’ lives.

But it goes so much deeper than that.

You can establish 1:1 customer relationships at scale—and that’s incredibly powerful.

Email marketing isn’t about sending “blasts” to your entire audience. In fact, “email blast” is a dirty phrase on our team. One size does not fit all.

Automation solves this by triggering specific emails containing personal trust signals (like the lead’s first name) to deliver what they need when they need it. You can move the leads you acquire from PPC advertising through the Buyer’s Journey with automation up to the point of the sale—that’s where your personal touch comes in.

You can categorize leads fluidly based on their actions, such as:

  • Opening an email (or not)
  • Clicking on a specific link
  • Downloading an attachment
  • Where, why, or how the lead signed up

You can automatically qualify leads based on their cumulative actions with lead scoring, too. This means that, if you take the time to set it up, you can progress leads all the way to the point of sale without having to put in the huge time investment yourself.

Trust us on this one—it’s a lot better than manually keeping tabs on hundreds (or thousands) of potential customers by hand.

That scalability makes email a core strategy for every serious business out there. It boasts one of the lowest costs for small business marketing, it scales with every size of operation, and it yields higher returns than social media posts or hosted events.

What Email Marketing Can and Cannot Do for Small Business

“Fantastic! Why don’t we just grab as many email addresses as possible?”

That’s a valid question, and there are a few ways to accomplish that.

Email is the best remarketing channel out there, but it’s not an acquisition strategy. You shouldn’t be trying to find new leads with email by finding them yourself or asking customers to forward things to friends (usually, but there are exceptions). Email marketing works best for small and medium businesses for leads already in their funnels.

Frankly, B2C businesses don’t have the time to ask prospects for emails one at a time. That would be insane. On the other hand, buying email lists violates all kind of data privacy laws, such as Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation and Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation

Pro Tip: bought email lists are always useless. We’ve watched multiple clients and agency bosses try to make them work, but just end up wasting their money.

Don’t be one of those people.

B2B models might benefit from hyper-specific email lead generation, but you need to follow a specific process that complies with the law (we can consult with you on that). It’s also one of the more labour-intensive strategies available, but it can be great if you have more time than capital to spend.

We can set you up with the tools and strategies you need to make that happen if that’s the best course of action for your small business.

How Do I Start with Email Marketing?

Excellent! Start with these tips and then a process.

First, stay away from big, bloated platforms for enterprise, such as Infusionsoft—they won’t give you great value for money. Also stay away from MailChimp; yes, it’s free, but it’s confusing, severely limiting, and frustratingly puritanical about sourcing your email leads.

Choose ActiveCampaign or Drip. They’re both priced very reasonably and actually do what you need them to do. It’s worth noting that if you’re starting from scratch or operating on a super tight budget, then ActiveCampaign has a lower cost at the outset. It’s our favourite email platform—we use it ourselves.

Next, you should integrate your email platform with your website. Both platforms recommended above have plugins for WordPress, which will let you put email sign-up forms at certain points on your website. Even if you’re using a different CMS or email platform, you can connect both using Zapier.

From there, start building the list by pulling on these business levers:

  • Ask existing customers to join your list
  • Make sure you’re turning website traffic into form sign-ups
  • Check out putting your blog in directories
  • Integrate signup forms into your Facebook page if you’re feeling adventurous
  • Start a pay-per-click advertising campaign to generate leads to nurture

Follow those steps and you’ll set yourself up for success at a fraction of the cost of competitors who pour thousands of dollars into social media ads and event sponsorships.


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Andrew is the SEO and content marketing consultant at Webb Content. He worked in several agencies full-time and alongside another 7 as a freelancer, then went in-house to give Ontario's insurance industry a kick in the pants. Now he works with small and medium businesses to build consistent, long-term traffic. He still writes content in his free time, too. It's kind of an addiction.

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Andrew is the SEO and content marketing consultant at Webb Content. He worked in several agencies full-time and alongside another 7 as a freelancer, then went in-house to give Ontario's insurance industry a kick in the pants. Now he works with small and medium businesses to build consistent, long-term traffic. He still writes content in his free time, too. It's kind of an addiction.