Email Marketing on a Budget

Most business owners I talk to would like to use email more effectively to support their business. But with all the things a small business owner has to balance, time is always the biggest challenge when it comes to getting these things in motion.

  • Time to learn a new technology
  • Time to write the emails
  • Time to design them

There are great companies who will take care of most of this for you, but without understanding the real return on investment of email in your circumstance, it’s sometimes difficult to justify paying someone.

This double edge sword creates a hesitation in getting started and as a long time user of email marketing it’s a real shame. To help change that I’m going to share with you some tips to bootstrap getting your email marketing campaigns underway.

It’s time to roll up the sleeves and get it done.

1.  Leverage The Mailchip Free Account

Mailchimp have a ‘forever free account’ that enables you to email a list of up to 2,000 people and send up to 12,000 emails a month. There’s no limitation on the main functions of Mailchimp so everything is there for someone getting started. Things like ‘automation’ are not included in the free account, however when you start thinking about these sorts of things, then hopefully you’ll value it enough to upgrade to a paid account either on Mailchimp or somewhere else.

2. Pay someone to set up your account

Getting your account working is one of the biggest stumbling blocks I see. There are some technical things that need to be done in order connect things together and be able to send your list an email. For someone experienced, it shouldn’t take them longer than an hour, so it won’t be a big investment.

3. Use a basic Free template with minimal customisations

Most credible email providers will have a list of free templates for you to use with your emails.  When starting, I would recommend picking a simple white template that you can then make unique by adding your logo or a header image and perhaps changing fonts to suit your style. I would use only the templates available with the provider you select as those are guaranteed to work.

4. Use friends and family as proof-readers

Writing great emails can be a bit of an art form, and when you are ready there is plenty of help at hand. Initially though, worry less about writing the perfect email, more about making sure all your spelling and grammar is right. You’ll get better as time goes on. Even if you consider yourself a great writer, get someone who’s just as good or better to give it a second pair of eyes. You’ll be amazed at what they say.

 5. Use the support teams of whoever you choose to use to send your email

All credible email providers have great support teams and their job is to help get you going. They know if they can break you through the initial barrier to email, the rest comes easily and hopefully you’ll stick with them.  Don’t get frustrated on a small issue for hours. Ask for help and you shall receive.

6. Don’t get lost on the complexities — initially

Once you are up and running there are many ways to get very sophisticated with your email. Automation, segmentation, A/B testing are just some of the buzzwords that will come your way. But when starting with email don’t be afraid to keep it simple. One email to your entire list is much better than none.

Email marketing providers that a perfect for a new starter

I’ve uses dozens of email marketing providers and all have them have their pros and cons.  The two I recommend as being best for someone new to email marketing are MailChimp and Campaign Monitor.

I find their user experience and email building tools really guide you through the process well. They also both have great modern free templates for you to use and will be able to grow with you.

Remember though you are not locked into the provider once you start. Switching whilst does require a little bit of work, is very possible even for the smallest of businesses.

How much time will this take?

This is going to be different from person to person and your first email will of course take the longest. But once you’re up and running sending your subsequent emails will be much easier.

There is lots to love about email and how it can have a positive impact on your business.  It’s cheap, it’s fast, and can help you keep your customers coming back for more. When used as part of a broader acquisition plan, it can bring in new ones as well.

I hope you’re ready to make email a part of growing your business.


Shayne loves working at the heart of growing online businesses. From product management and innovation through to monetisation techniques, community development, support and social media.  His practical, to-the-point style has garnered lots of fans and his ability to build lasting businesses with proven digital marketing techniques has created a well-deserved reputation. Shayne has authored multiple online marketing books as well as running 99designs Tasks and Ready-made logos.