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3 Ways to Make Your Small Business’s Email Campaigns Better

I have a secret to tell you. I don’t read all of my emails. I honestly don’t even come close to it. At my best, I probably read fewer than a quarter of the emails I receive to my personal email account. Unlike the Inbox Zero zen of my work email account, my personal email is a barrage of blah subject lines and promotional messages that just aren’t compelling enough for me to open.   

As someone who writes a monthly email newsletter about small business marketing, this little fact occasionally throws me into a bit of an existential crisis. 

But then I remember that all email campaigns are not created equal. It’s really easy for businesses to get caught up in the “should” of using email as a marketing channel, but not spend a lot of time on the “why” or “how.” 

Before I dive into my top tips for how to improve your emails, here are a few reasons why you should care about email in the first place. 

Why Email Matters for Small Businesses

Email is one of the most effective marketing channels small businesses have to reach their customers. Among marketing channels, email has had the highest return on investment (ROI) for the past 10 years and the highest conversion rate (66%) for purchases.

On the flip side, I also recently read a 2020 survey of small businesses that said the average email open rate for a quarter of those businesses surveyed was less than 10 percent. That’s a lot of unread emails!

So how do you make sure your customers actually read your emails? 

As I’ve learned over the last three years of honing a monthly email newsletter, cutting through the inbox noise requires putting three simple principles into practice: 

  1. Make your emails feel personal.
  2. Target your emails to the audience you’re sending them to.
  3. Design your emails with both your audience’s aspirations and limitations in mind.  

As a result of using these three principles, the email newsletter I send out every month currently has an average open rate around 30 percent. That’s a lot of read emails!

Ready to learn how you can make your small business’s emails better? Read on for my top three email tips, as well as how you can partner with Chronogram Media to make your email campaigns better ASAP. 

1. Make Your Emails Feel Personal

Making an email campaign feel more personal can mean a lot of things. Your ultimate goal, though, is to make the person on the other side of your email feel like it was meant for them instead of it feeling like a generic message sent to thousands. 

Here are a few ways you can make your emails feel more personal: 

  • Use the sender’s name in the “from” field. For instance, the monthly email I send out comes from “Ashleigh at Chronogram Media,” which lets recipients know that there’s an actual person behind the email.

  • Personalize your subject line with the recipient’s name. People are 29 percent more likely to open an email if their name is used. Imagine if your favorite local coffee shop sent you an email with a birthday coupon and your name in the subject line–you’d want to open it!

  • Be conversational in your writing. Think about how you’d actually tell someone about the content of your email, then write it that way. Then, go a step further and share some details from your own life or the day-to-day goings-on of your business. Think back to the top of this post and my reveal about my own email inbox—creating connection from one person to another is your goal. 

  • Get creative with your design elements. Throw in a few emojis here and there. Add a GIF that creates attention-grabbing movement inside your email. Use fun fonts and color schemes that tell your customers your brand is anything but boring.  

2. Target Your Emails to Your Audience

If you don’t know who you’re sending your emails to, you won’t be able to effectively entice them to open, let alone read or take an action from, those emails. 

One of the first things you can do to create a more targeted email campaign is to segment your email list. Segmenting is breaking down a larger email list into smaller categorized lists so that you can provide your customers with content they’re most interested in. 

There are a ton of ways you can segment an email list, and if you have demographic info like age, gender, zip code, and income, your ability to send targeted emails is almost endless!

Here are a few popular segmentation ideas that are beneficial for small businesses to get you started:


  • Create a segment of local customers and a segment for visitors, and tailor your messages to each group.


  • Create a segment of returning customers and reward them with celebratory offers and exclusive deals.


  • Create a segment of users who never open your emails, and reel them in with an email that includes an extra-special discount.


  • Create a segment of users who open your emails the most, and use that list for initiatives like customer surveys and feedback. 

3. Design Emails with Your Audience’s Aspirations and Limitations in Mind

How many times have you received an email from a business that just seemed completely out of touch with where you are in your customer journey?

I personally don’t enjoy receiving a promotional email for every holiday or new sale from a company that I haven’t made a purchase from in a long time. That’s why it’s important to really think about your email audience’s aspirations to become your customer but also their limitations doing so.

If you’re segmenting your email audience, it makes it much easier to send people content that meets them where they are as a customer. But you can also achieve more balanced messaging without segmenting your audience. 

Start by thinking through your average customer’s journey to purchasing your goods or services. (If you have several different types of customers, you can create different paths for each of them.)

Then, think through all the pain points in their purchasing process and create email content to help.

  • If cost is a limiting factor, think about how often you are able to extend promotional offers to your customers through email.



  • Is your brick-and-mortar store only open a few days a week? Consider announcing extended hours by email, or include interesting content and plenty of photos in your emails that communicate the value of visiting when you’re open.



  • Do you sell a product that people only purchase once or only once every handful of years? Create emails that help those customers successfully use or care for their products and you’ll make it more likely they’ll return in the future when they need your product next! 

How You Can Partner with Chronogram Media to Create Better Email Campaigns

We totally understand that small business owners don’t always have the time, money, or expertise to create effective email campaigns on their own. 

That’s why our team at Chronogram Media offers a range of services to help you connect with customers and grow your business. From writing compelling subject lines to crafting engaging content, we know how to create emails that drive engagement and conversions. 

Whether you’d like to reach new Hudson Valley residents, high-income earners, or other demographics that are an ideal match for your business, we can work with you to create a customized email campaign that widens your customer base and introduces your small business to thousands of new people with the power of just one great email. 

Want to learn more about our custom email campaigns? Reach out to our sales team at [email protected] to start the conversation! 

Want more marketing tips just for small businesses in the Hudson Valley, Catskills, and Berkshires? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter, The Art of Business!


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