If you’ve ever complained about “not having anything to send to your customers” or “not knowing what the heck to do with a list of email addresses” brace yourself. I’m about to blow your mind.

A lot of local businesses tend to shirk off email marketing because:

  • “… no one wants to hear from me!”
  • “I don’t have anything to send!”
  • “Won’t I just annoy my customers?”
  • “I hate giving my email address so why should I expect people to give me theirs?”

Every time I hear these excuses, my heart breaks a little. These businesses are missing a BIG TIME opportunity by overlooking one of the most fundamental forms of communication in today’s world – email.


How to Send Email to Your Customers

The first step in overcoming these fears (because excuses really are just fears standing in your way of success) is to understand what the heck to send. When you can visualize what you’ll deliver, it becomes a heck of a lot easier to get started creating it.

There are three core types of emails your business can send:

  1. Autoresponders, or emails sent out as soon as someone signs up to your list.
  2. Newsletters with monthly specials, articles, or other promotions.
  3. Updates about your business and all of the big and exciting things you have happening.

For most local businesses #2 and #3 are the easiest and most common. Few local business models require an autoresponder series unless you’re giving something away for free on your website. Still, let’s dig into each of these so you get a better understanding of what they are and how they might work for your business.

1. Autoresponders

If you’re email averse, you can ignore this point until you’re feeling more confident in your online marketing. It’s not a make or break if you’re just starting out.

However, if you’ve been sending emails for awhile to a healthy list of local contacts, there’s value in setting up an autoresponder series.

Here’s how they work:

  1. Someone signs up for your email list.
  2. You send an email automatically to say thank you and let her know what she can expect from you in the coming days and as you build your relationship in her inbox.
  3. You send a second email to build off the first one.
  4. You send a third email to build off the second one.

And so on and so forth.

The goal of your auto-responder series is to build the relationship with your customer while the interest is there. Consider it your first digi-date with her. You want to wine and dine her and make her fall madly in love with you before she has a chance to look at the competition. Make. Her. Swoon.

2. Newsletters

Many people hate the word newsletter because it signifies a boring, run of the mill, churn and burn email. These are the ones that often get ignored… unless they’re done right.

A newsletter is usually sent as a regular update. These types of emails tend to include:

  • Blog post updates (if you’re doing your local business website right)
  • Coupons or monthly specials you’re running
  • A brief news section to give mini-updates (these are less exciting than the updates we’ll discuss next)

Newsletters get deleted. They’re often ignored, glossed over and forgotten about unless you add in a reason to open them.

Note: Sales and coupons aren’t reasons to open a newsletter. If someone doesn’t need you, they won’t be interested in what you’re offering and your hard work will go straight to the trash bin.

In newsletters, I like to encourage something personal. Add in a letter from the owner, especially if the owner is the face of the business (and in most local businesses s/he is). Make it feel personal by including something specific to the customer. You can do this automatically in most email marketing systems by storing customer data.

Remember, your customer is likely flooded by offers, deals, and newsletters everyday. To make yours rise above the noise, you need something a little more personal in each email.

3. Updates

These emails don’t happen quite as often. When they do, they’re usually highly promotional.

Use them to get your customer jazzed about something happening in your business.

  • Did you build a new location?
  • Did you add a new service people have been demanding from you?
  • Did you hire someone spectacular who’ll knock the socks off your customers on every visit?

People love having a reason to celebrate. Bring the party into your customer’s inbox and let them in on your excitement. Then, woo them with a special offer sent just to them (and your entire email list). They’ll feel loved and appreciated because of it.

Wrapping Up

It’s simple: If you’re not sending emails yet, start building your list and getting in front of your customers more often.

If you are sending emails, make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Keep it personal. Keep it relevant. And most of all, keep it interesting. 

… Because people do business with interesting people – not lackluster corporations.

Want to get on my email list for regular updates and personal letters from moi to you? PLUS you’ll be the first to know about upcoming product releases (and there just might be a discount tossed in, which will be exclusive to email subscribers too. Just sayin’) Sign up here to see what you’ve been missing. 

7 thoughts to “Email Marketing Ideas for Local Businesses

  • Jennifer Myers

    The autoresponders epiphany is huge for people! It literally does blow your mind when you first learn about it. And you explain it all so perfectly. A great post!

    • Kimberly Crossland

      Thanks Jen! Autoresponders are fantastic, aren’t they?

  • Hailey

    Love your advice to help local business stand out by including something personal in their messages. I believe it’s crucial for local businesses to give their subscribers a reason to open their emails besides just a special offer!

    • Kimberly Crossland

      Yes!! It’s their best way to crush the competition in their area yet it’s so rarely used.

  • Nick Dubow

    Hi Kim.

    I eagerly await your email. Your blogs are well written, helpful and practical.

  • Jill Lampi

    Awesome topic with excellent clarity as to “why” they should care and “how” they should envision things working if they get them set up right.

    It’s amazing how well autoresponders work to get people to know, like and trust us. It also makes the first 1-on-1 calls super relaxed which is appreciated!!


    • Kimberly Crossland

      Agreed on the first 1-on-1 calls! The know-like-trust factor is super important for local businesses too.


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