Email marketing can be scary… especially when you consider the upfront cost and time investment to get it running. But could it be one of your most valuable marketing tools? We think so!

The Email Marketing Basics

First things first, we are a Canadian based business, so we have to talk quickly about ‘CASL’ which is the ‘Canadian Anti-spam Legislation’. Now, we aren’t lawyers, but we do have a very deep understanding of these rules and before you embark on any email marketing journey, be sure to read up on the rules here: http://fightspam.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/eng/home

If we had to sum the rules for any email marketing beginners, we would say:

  • Consent is mandatory and there are two types. Implied, and Express. Implied basically means it’s good for 6 months and you did not get an actual opt-in to communication via email with someone (see the fight-spam website above for details). Express means someone has clicked to confirm a subscription or opted in somehow (by giving you their email and confirming consent) which lasts forever (until they unsubscribe).
  • you MUST include an unsubscribe link for people to be able to unsubscribe themselves
  • DONT buy an email list – this is risky as people didn’t opt in to be emailed by your business

To easily digest this weeks material, we have broken it down in to a Q&A style – we hope this helps you determine if email marketing is right for you! And if you need any help, we are here for you. We are experts in creating beautiful and clean email marketing templates and campaigns – reach out if you need us!


email marketing small business
Top 10 Email Marketing Questions for Small Businesses – from our clients:

  1. Why would email marketing benefit my business?
    1. It’s targeted! People are generally expressing interest for a specific topic (like you did for this series)
    2. Engagement is higher than many other marketing channels.
    3. You have a captive audience – it’s a great way to stay connected and make announcements to your current client-base/database.
    4. It’s personal – you can segment your database to send certain lists and people different information based on their preferences.
    5. it keeps you top of mind! Even if someone isn’t ‘ready to buy yet’ – it doesn’t mean they never will. Email marketing is your nurturing campaign until those people do in fact need your business service or product.
    6. Generate sales – not just for retail and product based business, but service businesses as well!
  2. How much does email marketing software cost?
    1. This can range anywhere from free to hundreds/month depending on what functionality you need. Most of our clients use the free version of mailchimp (free until you reach 2000 subscribers). And some are on the paid platform if they want advanced ‘automation’ features such as scheduling drop campaigns like this one (they start at $10/month and are very affordable).
  3. How much does it cost to get someone to manage my email marketing?
    1. This depends on if you are hiring a freelancer, a boutique marketing firm, or a large agency. You can expect to pay anywhere from $25/hour for an entry level assistant to $250/hour+ for a large agency to create, edit, manage, and optimize your email marketing campaigns.
  4. How do I come up with content for my email marketing campaigns?
    1. Sky is the limit on this one! If you are writing to current clients, think of special announcements that you might wish to make throughout the year (holiday editions, sales and promotions etc). If you are writing to people that are not in your network or client-base, think of things that they would value the most. This will impact your open rates and hopefully keep your subscribers engaged.
  5. How do I get people to sign up for my list?
    1. If they are current clients, you can send an email out letting them know you are starting up a newsletter list to keep them informed about important announcements. If you are growing a NEW list, think of things you can offer for free (called a ‘lead magnet’) or an ongoing education series that people would be interested in receiving.
  6. Should I design my own emails or get them professionally designed?
    1. This depends on your business’s marketing budget. We always recommend having a couple of templates designed that you can use ongoing to create brand consistency but certainly there’s nothing wrong with starting off small with your own templates. Just make sure you have your logo and colours etc present so people know what to expect when they hear from you. Remember, it reminds them of why they want to work with you.
  7. How should I test the look of my email campaigns?
    1. At Empty Desk Solutions, we use mailchimp for our email marketing, and we recommend sending test messages to yourself before they go to your entire list. Preview the campaign on a desktop, a tablet, and a mobile device. Over 50% of emails are read on a mobile device so you want to make sure your template is responsive or mobile friendly 🙂
  8. How do I measure email marketing success?
    1. Keep an eye on stats like open rates, unsubscribe rates, click through rates (if you are trying to send people to a specific page on your website for example), and of course revenue if you can track that (make sure to always ask your customers how they heard about you if they are strangers to you).
  9. Is it necessary to plan what you are going to send throughout the year?
    1. We say yes! Not everyone would agree, but if you have little direction as to what you will send throughout the year (an editorial calendar) then it becomes overwhelming and often gets shuffled to the bottom of the pile and doesn’t get sent.
  10. Where should I start?
    1. Begin by deciding what software you will choose. Once you’ve picked it, set up your account, and strategize WHAT you will send and WHO you will send this to. Write it down on your marketing plan or editorial calendar and start planning! Think of how often you will email everyone on your list, and then start to break it down by planning out your calendar in chunks (one month at a time). A couple hours of writing time to get drafts in order goes a long way!