Saturday, December 5th is Small Business Saturday throughout the UK, and it may surprise you to know that 99% of all businesses in the UK are classified as small or medium-sized, and 95% are micro-businesses! It’s clear then, that small businesses are alive and well in the UK economy, so we wanted to identify ways that these smaller companies can make the most of email marketing, without the benefits of a huge budget.

Time is money, my friend

As a small business owner, you’re often receptionist, accountant, marketing director, delivery driver and shelf-stacker all rolled up in one slightly-frazzled package.

When it comes to time-management, you’ll know then that despite your best efforts, some things will inevitably slip through the cracks. Please don’t let a new customer or subscriber be one of them! When someone signs up to receive your newsletter, or makes a purchase in your store, you have an opportunity to capture their data and use that to re-engage them at a later date.

It’s not difficult, either! Try setting up simple email automations that can make that all-important initial contact with a new customer, and can start you on the path to building a top-notch database (which, as anyone will tell you, is the most valuable asset your company has).

On the topic of databases…

Actively manage yours.

If your database is full of incorrect details, errors and undeliverable email addresses, it’s next to useless. Keep an eye on your database and regularly clean it to ensure the data that you have is accurate and reliable, it’s the old “quality over quantity” situation.

You are better to strive towards a small but accurate database of quality data rather than obtain vast reams of data which is more-or-less useless, as you’ll waste your time creating campaigns that are undeliverable. It’s not hard to get hold of clean data either, just make sure that you never miss a chance to ask your customers for permission to email them – ask them in store, on your website, in your correspondence and on your social media pages. If your customers trust and value your brand, they’ll happily sign up and you’ll also know the data you’ve received from them is clean, accurate and will set you up well for future campaigns.

Job done!

Harness the power of the millennials

Generation Y make up around a quarter of the UK’s population and the good news for SME’s is that this massive group are more likely to shop at smaller retailers who stock authentic items, rather than larger corporations. Hooray!

Small businesses have the inside track on harnessing the power of this almost 17-million strong group of shoppers, and one of the best ways to attract their spending is by actively engaging with them. Importantly, 44% of millennials have said in research studies that brands who talk to them like a real person seem more authentic, so make sure you don’t speak double dutch! In addition to casual Facebook or Twitter interactions, it’s worthwhile setting up a personalised email campaign containing oodles of testimonials to act as the much-needed social proof and human interaction that will appeal to Generation Y.

In a nutshell

Money can be tight for SME’s and micro-businesses, so if you don’t have the pockets to pay out for paid advertising, stick to optimising your website, SEO and social media presence, using the opportunities there to interact with your customers.

How do you feel when you contact a company and are able to speak directly to the director or manager? Good, we bet! It’s a rarity nowadays, and as a small business you have the benefit of being able to speak straight to your clients through a range of channels. Little things like this are critical in fostering good brand-consumer relationships, and remember that your brand and business is so much more than just profit and loss, selling and buying. It’s what people see, hear, think and feel about your business, and as a small business you have the opportunity to really get to know your clients on a level that bigger corporations will struggle to achieve.

Use what you know about your customers’ wants and needs to deliver targeted, personalised campaigns that will appeal to customers on an individual level, helping to build strong brand relationships that will stand the test of time.