7 email marketing tips for local businesses

For small businesses, it can be a struggle to compete with large competitors, especially if you have a limited budget.

However, who says you have to spend a fortune to get results?

In the ever-evolving landscape of online business, there is one aspect of marketing that continues to reap rewards for all businesses, big or small. That's right: we’re talking about email marketing.

While social media and video hog the spotlight, the reality is that email marketing can generate a higher return on investment (ROI) than any other channel.

That’s great news for businesses who are looking to grow their brand locally.

In this article, we’ll explore the key email marketing tips for local businesses, giving you all the insights and proof you need to understand just how powerful email can be, and more importantly, how you can use it to drive success.

How local businesses can boost the ROI of email marketing

Big brands with deep pockets have the luxury of being able to spend and experiment with a plethora of marketing strategies. You may not have the same financial freedom.

To increase the chances of long-term success for your business, focus on growing your reputation locally.

Here are some essential email marketing tips for local businesses that will get your metrics moving in the right direction.

  1. Make it easy to subscribe

It shouldn’t be hard for people to sign-up to your newsletter. If it is, you’ll simply deter people and will lose out on potential sales as a result.

Here are a few ways to improve the sign-up process:

  • Include calls-to-action (CTAs) on your social media pages and also on blog posts.

  • Reduce the fields on sign-up boxes to a minimum. By just requesting the email and first name upfront, you make it easy for people to register in seconds. You can always request more data later on.

  • Make your emails shareable by adding social share buttons in the email copy. Doing this will allow your existing subscribers to share your email content with their own audiences, which will increase brand awareness and potentially earn you more subscribers.

From your sign-up forms to your CTAs, everything should be clear and easy, paving the way for a simple sign-up with the minimum number of digital touchpoints.

  1. Let people know what to expect

Nobody wants to receive spam or have their inbox polluted by irrelevant emails. Ideally, you’ll only ever be sending valuable content. Occasionally, however, you may intend to send out some promotional offers or company news.

It’s crucial that you make people aware of this before they subscribe. This is not optional now—it’s required by law since the GDPR was enacted earlier in 2018.

Even if the legal requirements weren’t a factor, you should be forthcoming and transparent with prospects, as then they will know exactly what they are signing up for. This will reduce the chance of people unsubscribing soon after.

This newsletter sign-up form from Everlane lets users know exactly what they can expect when signing up to their newsletter list.

  1. Offer promotions

Who doesn’t love a good deal?

Although hard sales emails rarely go down well, companies can generate more site traffic and sales with a timely promotion.

Studies indicate that most people do want to hear about discounts or special promotions from local businesses, and 64% of customers state that email is their preferred channel to receive such offers.

Let’s say you own a restaurant that is going through a bit of a quiet patch. While business is slow, you do have a lengthy list of emails from previous customers who used your online booking service in the past.

You can put that list to use by emailing your customers special offers, such as:

  • Lunch discounts

  • Coupons for couples meals

  • Complimentary bottle of wine with any meal

Special offers like this can soon kickstart sales growth, and it is one of the most cost-effective email marketing tips for local businesses to use.

Deliveroo, a premium restaurant delivery service, offers existing customers a deal if they choose to order an entire meal for delivery. 

It’s much cheaper and faster to send out an email promotion instead of printing fliers and handing them out on the street.

  1. Audience segmentation

Going niche is essential in today’s competitive world. But even if you are catering to a specialist market, your marketing must consider several buyer personas.

You can drill even deeper into your own audience to target smaller subgroups of your customer base with content and offers that are specifically tailored to their interests.

Research shows that segmented campaigns can deliver a 760% revenue boost.

Here are a couple of common ways of implementing segmentation to get more out of email marketing:


By asking for zip codes during the sign-up process, your business can target local customers. You can group customers in the local area together, and send them targeted content that is more engaging and relevant to them. For example, you can make them aware of sales at the nearest store.


Just as men and women have different shopping habits, so do millennials and middle-aged professionals. By considering these various demographics, you can cater to the specific interests of each group.

Sending generic, broad emails to everyone may be easier, but by taking the time to craft emails for each group, your engagement levels, clicks, and conversions will go through the roof.


Email provides companies with a chance to communicate with customers in a conversational, casual manner. This helps nurture trust, as people can see the human side of your business and appreciate that you are not just another faceless brand with eyes on their wallets.

All this to say that one of the best email marketing tips for local businesses is to get personal.  There are several effective ways to use personalization in email marketing, such as:

  • Subject line: Add the customer’s first name, or use language that resonates with them to drive open rates.

  • Copy: Adopt a conversational tone and focus on the recipient. Instead of talking about the features of your products, highlight the benefits for the users.

  • Visuals: Include infographics or video content to boost engagement.

  • CTA: Add powerful hooks that play on the customer’s specific needs.

  • Offers: Make personalized recommendations based on data you have gathered about your customers.

Flight Centre use personalization to great effect in their emails, sending relevant offers to customers based on the data they collect about their customers’ browsing behaviors.

For example, if you were researching the best places for a skiing trip, your next email may offer you deals on cheap flights to areas with ski resorts.

  1. A/B testing

In the early days of any business, a major challenge is finding the methods that actually work. There is inevitably a lot of trial and error, and you may incur some losses due to the guesswork.

If you only try one of our email marketing tips for local businesses, then make it A/B testing.

Instead of putting all your eggs in one basket and charging ahead with methods that aren’t gaining traction, take the time to test out different techniques with your emails.

A/B testing helps you gather more information on your subscribers, and from that, you can make smarter marketing decisions. The benefits are well worth the effort:

  • It improves user engagement. Making minor tweaks to the layout, images, or colors can make a big impact on user behavior. By trialing different versions of your emails, you can find the one that users like best. Enhancing the user experience (UX) should always be a top priority, and with A/B testing, you can deliver emails that people love.

  • It improves your content35% of people open emails based solely upon the subject line. By using A/B testing, local businesses can send several versions of their copy, with variations to the  subject lines, body text, and CTAs. Soon enough, you’ll learn what works best for your audience.

  • It boosts conversion rates. A/B testing in email marketing allows you to fine-tune your emails for the best ROI. Discovering what works and what fails will help you drive more clicks, more leads, and ultimately, more conversions.

Analyze and optimize

An integral part of A/B testing is data analysis. However, even if you aren’t implementing A/B testing, you should still invest some resources in analytics.

Using an email service provider makes it easier for you to keep track of the emails you send, and provides you with key insights into important email metrics, including:

  • Open rates

  • Click-through rates (CTR)

  • Unsubscribe rates

  • Conversion rates

By assessing these numbers, you can evaluate performance on your email campaigns and make the changes needed to improve results.

Wrap up

With social media more congested than ever, it can be difficult to cut through the noise without using paid advertising.

Email marketing is a cost-effective solution that allows small businesses to build their brand in the local area with relative ease.

By focusing on nurturing relationships with your customers through personalized emails, you can experiment with A/B testing and audience segmentation to discover deeper insights about your subscribers.

Ultimately, this will help you improve your email content and enhance the ROI of your marketing efforts, which will drive brand awareness and customer loyalty as word spreads about your business.

About the Author

Lane Harbin

Lane Harbin is a senior content marketing manager at Emma. When she’s not geeking out over email marketing, she enjoys binge-listening to podcasts, catching up on the latest tech news, and constantly rearranging her living room.

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