8 Creative ways to drive traffic to your small business with email marketing

Are you feeling burned out with your email marketing campaigns? 

Do you feel like you’re constantly throwing the same thing at your subscribers hoping that something will stick—but the traffic just isn’t coming?

Maybe it’s time to freshen up your email marketing efforts with some new tactics. 

With almost 30% of US residents using ad-blockers, channels like email are crucial for helping you reach new customers.

In this post, we’ll go over some creative ways to help you drive traffic to your small business—both online and off—with email marketing. We’ll also provide some tried and true best practices for making the most out of every email campaign you send.

Sixty-one percent of customers prefer for brands to contact them through email over other channels. If you want to take advantage of this, you need to make the most out of your email marketing campaigns.

How many times have you sent an email that sounds a little like this?: “30% off today ONLY.” 

Promotions are great and certainly have their place, but they are very effective in building authority and trust with your subscribers. Don’t worry, a little creativity can go a long way.
Spice things up with campaigns that express your knowledge and provide value to your subscribers’ lives. How can you help them better than anyone else? 

These suggestions aren’t your usual run-of-the-mill campaigns. You can put your brand’s own unique spin on them to drive traffic and build authority.

1. Host an online AMA.

If you’ve spent any amount of time on Reddit, you’ve no doubt noticed the Ask Me Anything (AMA) posts where an expert (or celebrity) will allow Reddit users to ask their burning questions. Even former President Obama hosted one in 2012.

How does this fit into email marketing? Well, you could host something similar to an AMA on Reddit and use email campaigns to promote the event. It’s a good idea to start your AMA promotion at least six weeks out so that it draws a nice crowd and a variety of questions. 

You could also conduct your AMA strictly through email or another platform. Have your subscribers forward their questions either through email or a survey form. You could record yourself answering the questions and share the video back with them through email. 

The Fix Chiropractic sent out an email about its upcoming AMA on YouTube.

Source: Self

2. Curate unique content for your subscribers.

You want to provide value to the lives of your customers and leads. They need to know that they can count on you to solve their problems. To accomplish this, use your blog to share knowledge. 

Make sure to write authoritative blog posts on a broad range of topics that different segments of your customers would find useful. Gather links from your own blog and other authoritative sources or partner brands and share them with your subscribers. Make sure to ask your subscribers which topics they find most interesting.

If you’re a plumber, for example, you could write blogs about quick at-home fixes, plumbing hacks, and viral content that covers all things related to plumbing. Lawyers could write posts to help different people understand their rights in different contexts, within their legal limits. 

It’s all about educating and empowering your subscribers. 

That’s probably why small businesses with blogs generate 126% more leads than those without.

Plus, 77% of people online read blogs.

This email from US Outdoor Store contains specially tailored interesting content.

Source: Milled

3. Hold a contest for free products or services.

Interactive content is important because it keeps your subscribers engaged. Quizzes, surveys, would-you-rathers, calculators, and other interactive elements get subscribers clicking around and, hopefully, drive traffic by getting clicks over to your website.

Contests are a great choice of interactive content because, well, who doesn’t love free stuff? 

If you run a gym, for example, you could choose one lucky subscriber each month for a free 30-day membership. Recurring contests will keep subscribers opening your emails because they know there’s something awesome for them inside. 

Plus, this gives them a taste of your product or service—like a free sample. 

In the food industry, free samples drive conversion rates between 25 and 30%—and even higher if you provide a coupon with your sample. Even if your free sample recipient doesn’t convert, they still have an experience with your company to share with their friends.

4. Write engaging copy and respond to replies.

You want to write copy that gets your subscribers thinking, talking, and engaging. Always use action words and write open-ended questions that get a conversation started.

Your work doesn’t end there though. If you really want to drive traffic, you have to engage with your subscribers, too. One of the easiest ways is to actually respond to your email replies. If a subscriber took the time to reply to your email campaign, don’t you think they deserve a response?

Too many brands send reply emails to an empty folder in Internet land, never to be seen again.

These brands are missing an opportunity to nurture valuable leads.

No, it won’t drive massive amounts of traffic overnight. It will, however, let your engaged readers know that you value their thoughts and entice them to visit your store or website.

5. Host an in-person event.

Events are an excellent way for small businesses to reach new audiences and drive traffic. Not only that, but you can also speak with real people about their concerns, problems, and daily life. 

Your event will depend entirely upon your brand: your values, expertise, and products or services. Some brands may want to host a conference with panels of experts while other brands could host expos with different booths. 

You could also host a more casual event like a summer field day or picnic with a specific theme that relates to your brand. An outdoor gear company could host weekly hikes in various locations, for example.

This will keep subscribers engaged because they’ll want to know what you’re up to—especially when they’re looking for interesting ways to spend their time.

Here’s an example of an event email for Earth Day from the sustainable clothing company Wolf and Badger.

Source: Milled

6. Highlight and encourage reviews.

Reviews are a crucial part of business in 2019. Instead of contacting our friends and asking around, we rely on reviews for recommendations (and to know what businesses to avoid). 

Eighty-six percent of customers will check out your reviews online before visiting your business storefront. Meanwhile, 68% of people trust online reviews like personal recommendations and a whopping 40% will avoid a business if it has several negative reviews.

Most customers don’t want to feel guilted or pressured into leaving a review, that just makes the conversation feel forced and awkward. 

Instead, let your subscribers know that you welcome reviews and make it easy for them to review your business. Include links to your Yelp or Google Business page at the bottom of your email campaigns. You can also provide incentives for reviews—offer a discount, or a gift card in exchange for a review (and what better way to market that approach than in email?).

In general, though, don’t let bad reviews get you down—use them as a learning experience. If you respond well to the negative review with a friendly and helpful response, potential customers will see that you took the time to address the problem. In fact, our friend Jay Baer has found that always responding to every customer comment, review, or complaint is the most advantageous approach for your business. 

7. Keep subscribers updated on company changes and happenings.

This seems pretty basic, right? If you’re changing your hours or adding new products, it only makes sense to send an email campaign.

You’re involved with your business on a moment-to-moment basis. You know everything inside and out. Your subscribers and customers don’t, so it can’t hurt to remind them about things every once in a while.

Do you have extended hours that might help you stand out from competitors? Are you open on weekends? Are you offering a product that your competitors may not have in stock? 

Keep your subscribers informed about what makes your business unique and how you can help them unlike anyone else. Stand out from the crowd and watch the business flow in.

8. Create unique customer journeys.

Even small businesses can benefit from creating automated customer journeys to drive traffic through email. In fact, automated email campaigns are great for small businesses because they require minimal time and resources to set up.

Automated campaigns deliver 152% higher click rates because they’re typically highly personalized. Using information you know about your subscribers—such as their locations and purchase histories—allows you to provide them with content they can’t wait to engage with. 

Here’s an example of an automated birthday campaign by Pizza Hut. Birthday emails always have incredible promotion rates. Who doesn’t love to treat themselves on their birthday?

Source: Really Good Emails

Wrap up

We feel you: Sometimes your creativity takes the week off and you suffer from email campaign burnout. It happens to all of us. In short, you can:

  • Host AMAs
  • Host in-person events
  • Use automation and customer journeys
  • Encourage reviews
  • Keep subscribers updated
  • Write and share engaging and personalized content
  • Communicate with your subscribers

These tips, along with plenty of personalization and mobile optimization, can freshen up your campaigns and drive traffic to both your website and storefronts.

Do you need help getting started with email automation and triggered campaigns? See what an automated journey looks like with Emma.

About the Author

Emma is an email marketing platform that gives you all the tools you need to send campaigns that really connect with your subscribers. With our

More Content by Emma Email

Want to engage your audience and grow your brand? Try Emma's robust easy-to-use product today.