What is Email Marketing?

The most popular online activity among adult internet users across Canada is checking and sending emails. Research shows that in 2020 alone, over 306 billion emails were sent and received every day. This is good news for businesses that use email marketing strategies to reach target audiences and tap into potential customer bases. Unsure what email marketing is and how to use it?

Here’s how email marketing for small businesses works.

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How Does Email Marketing Work?

Email marketing is a digital marketing strategy that allows businesses to reach past and potential customers through emails. To unlock the potential of this popular communication method and obtain the benefits of email marketing, you will first need to establish a strong and successful marketing campaign.

To start email marketing campaigns, you will need to have a sizeable list of emails you can contact. So how can you best obtain a long list of emails for your small business?

Building your email list

More people use email than any other form of communication, including social media, making the potential of a good-sized email list high. These lists are essential for small businesses and their ability to communicate to large groups of people. Once collected, you have those leads forever as opposed to social media, where your accounts could get deleted.

Typically, businesses will provide something free to customers to get them to sign up for their email. Some companies have an email newsletter they send out, or links to free downloads, while others offer a fact, snippet, or news update every morning to attract new subscribers. By offering something in return for their contact information, you establish credibility and a connection with past, current, and future customers.

If you need help thinking of other ways to collect email addresses, here is a guide to adding subscribers to your email database for your small business.

Obtaining consent from consumers

The Canadian government has set in place certain legislation to protect businesses and persons from the misuse of this digital technology and marketing emails. You will need to account for these guidelines when undertaking email marketing to ensure you follow all proper channels of communication.

Canada’s anti-spam legislation, or CASL, was set in place in 2014 as a means to combat misuse and ill intent of email usage by businesses and individuals. This legislation dictates that an organization must obtain expressed or implied consent from an individual in the use of their contact information and email.

For example, if a person signs up for an email subscription, this is expressed consent. An example of implied content, on the other hand, is if an individual reaches out to an organization with an inquiry about their product or service. Expressed consent never expires, whereas implied consent expires after 2 years.

Examples of Email Marketing

When it comes to email marketing for small businesses, you will need to consider how you want to approach your customers and potential customers. Here is a look at a few different methods you can use when creating your content.

PetSmart provides a good email marketing example, as the brand uses an incentive to get customers to click through to their site. With an in-store coupon code and promo code in front of the individual, it makes it more enticing to start shopping online right away.

example of petsmart discount email

Another quality email marketing example is a recent campaign made by Airbnb. This example illustrates how a company’s email marketers can adapt their services and content to stay relevant during current affairs, and in this case, during the COVID Pandemic.

Example of Air Bnb COVID email

Another way to have your email stand out from others is to make your customers feel special. Provide exclusive deals and promos for subscribers to your emails versus others. Limited access makes people feel like they are getting special treatment and are therefore more likely to trigger a sale.

Special deals like this one can also inspire your customers to keep coming back for me, resulting in higher customer loyalty. Holiday Autos pulls off this type of email marketing example.

Example of Holiday Auto email

Important Elements in Email Marketing

To pull off a successful email marketing campaign, there are certain elements that you will need to familiarize yourself with when starting out. Therefore, when creating content for your subscribers and implementing an email marketing strategy, consider these relevant elements:

  • Subject Line: The email element shows up alongside the sender name in your customer’s inbox and tells the reader what your email is about. You should always fill in subject lines with a summary or sentence relevant to the content within. A well-written and engaging subject line will entice your audience to open the email and read your content. An email with no subject line is more likely to get deleted before it’s even opened.
  • Copy: Refers to the content written within the email. Aim to create high-quality copy for your campaigns that is easy to read and engages the reader at the same time. A well-written email, where you clearly and energetically express your business’s ideas, will encourage readers to click through from the email to your website.
  • Open Rate: A metric that helps businesses and advertisers gauge who in your list is opening the emails you send out. This metric is portrayed as a percentage- displaying the percent of subscribers that opened your email compared to the total emails sent out. The average email open rate should sit somewhere between 15 to 25%. This metric indicates how effective your subject line copy was and the relevance to the subscribers.
  • Click-Through Rate: Of the subscribers that open your email, the click-through rate refers to those who have clicked through from your email copy to your website. This is the metric that informs you how well your email content converts into website traffic and potential sales. The average rate for email campaigns is 2.5%. Improve this rate with an enticing call to action that will get your subscribers to click your promotion.

Add a Personal Touch with Marketing Automation

Email marketing for small businesses should always have a personal touch attached to them. Someone is more likely to open and read an email addressed to their name versus a generic title.

Don’t worry- if you have a long mailing list, you do not have to create a personalized email for all addresses. Marketing automation is the use of software to deliver customized emails to your contact list. Such content can be tailored to specific audiences so that various email versions can be sent out at the same time to different segments of your list. Email marketing automation helps streamline this process for small businesses, making software an essential tool to have.

Email Marketing Software for Your Small Business

For your company to successfully pull off marketing automation for your email lists, you will need quality email marketing software to do it. There are many products on the market today that offer various marketing features and analytics to help your business improve its mail campaigns.

Some of the best email marketing tools include:

  • Mailchimp
  • Constant Contact
  • ActiveCampaign


Mailchimp is one of the top email marketing service tools currently on the market today. It’s an excellent fit for businesses and individuals just starting, as it is easy to set up and learn how to use thanks to its intuitive interface. Mailchimp helps companies deliver relevant content to their customers based on who they are and their history of interaction with your services.

The software analytics can determine the best time of day to send out emails, accounting for when your customers are most likely to engage with your content. You can even connect this tool and other business software in one place, as Mailchimp integrates with other software.

This marketing tool is free for a limited email list of up to 2,000 contacts. A paid version unlocks more comprehensive features like the autoresponder, with larger mailing list compatibility starting at 50,000 contacts. Mailchimp also offers award-winning support with 24/7 coverage, so you can always reach out to their team of specialists when you need it most.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact isn’t just an email marketing tool; it also offers users website tools and support, as well as social media marketing features and analytics. With a free Email Template Builder, and a database chock full of optimized templates for all marketing purposes, you can quickly get started with your campaigns.

Constant Contact provides an easy-to-use interface with the smart email editor toolbar. Your company can gain insight with this marketing software as it analyzes what emails have been opened and by who, triggering email series and resending to those who did not open them.

This software is great for eCommerce businesses to help them grow online with segmented and automated emails. Sync this marketing software to your business’ accounting software for seamless integration of your customers’ contact information. Try their 60-day trial before deciding if this software is right for you.


Opt for ActiveCampaign, and your business gains access to marketing automation and CRM tools that can help you create a comprehensive email marketing campaign. The software’s analytics lets you use precise targeting to find and grow your audience, matching your content to their wants based on previous online interactions. With split action, you can test what automation works best with target groups to up your marketing game.

Once you sign up with this product, you will gain access to a whole community with training sessions and one-on-one help. They also provide step-by-step instructions for those just starting, so you can get a grasp on email strategies to improve your skills.

ActiveCampaign also offers individuals a free trial to help them decide if it is right for their needs. This software also provides easy integration with other apps and tools to help you keep track of your outreach all in one place.

Sync Your Softwares

Improve your email marketing for small businesses when you use these marketing tools alongside your other software. Whatever marketing tools and software your small business decides to use, you can seamlessly sync your accounts with accounting software like QuickBooks Online.

Get your email campaign underway right away to begin reaching your email marketing goals as soon as possible! Sync your various softwares and import your business’ email address book to create an email list of past customers today.

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Next: Top Benefits of Email Marketing>>

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