Email marketing software can be a powerful tool for small businesses. It can drive traffic to your website, increase sales, build brand loyalty, and more. And the software is even more powerful if you take full advantage of the tools available to you.
Of course, every email marketing software provider offers a unique platform, but they all provide similar fundamental functions that will help your business either a little or a lot. How much is up to you.
Many email marketers believe they’re using email marketing software to its full potential. They’re designing aesthetically appealing emails, providing valuable content, and seeing acceptable results. However, results could be better than acceptable, and small business email marketers often don’t realize it.
3 Email Marketing Questions to Ask Yourself
If your small business is running email marketing campaigns through a software provider, and you’re not sure you’re making the most of that investment, consider the following questions.
These three questions will help you discover new ways to maximize your email marketing software, and hopefully, improve your email marketing results.
1. Are You Analyzing Your Data?
In this era of “Big Data ,” most email marketing software providers offer at least some form of numerical feedback. When you send an email, you generally get data on who opened the email, who clicked, what they clicked, who opted out, who marked the email as spam, and who, if anyone, forwarded your email. Every email blast generates a treasure trove of information about subscribers.
Despite the availability of this valuable data, small businesses often ignore its potential. You may send out an email and check its results, thinking that means you’re taking advantage of your software’s data reporting features. In reality, if that’s all you’re doing with all that data, you’re just touching the tip of the iceberg.
Email marketing data is most valuable when you use it to learn about your subscribers and adjust your strategy according to your conclusions. You could, for example, keep track of which content topics generate the most clicks, and then use those topics more often.
Depending on your software provider, this tactic may have a learning curve and require time spent on initial implementation. But once you discover what your subscribers really like, your email marketing campaigns will never be the same.
2. Is Social Sharing Integrated Into Your Marketing Emails?
There are two key ways to integrate social media into your marketing emails. One is fairly standard – including links to your company’s social profiles in each email. If you’re not already doing this, start now.
The second tactic isn’t always given the recognition it deserves. That tactic is social sharing. When it comes to marketing emails, taking advantage of social sharing means giving your subscribers a way to easily, immediately post your email content to a social network. You can either allow recipients to share specific pieces of the email (pin a photo to Pinterest, for example), or you can allow them to share the entire email (or both). Both are useful.
Because social sharing requires very little time to implement in your email marketing campaigns, this is one software tool your small business can’t afford not to take advantage of. According to a study  by BlueHornet:
“37% of consumers share emails to their social networks.”
And furthermore, a study  by GetResponse found that emails with social sharing buttons achieve click-through rates 158% higher than those without them.
3. Are You A/B Testing?
The more you test and tweak different email components, the more your campaign will resonate with customers. Although single-version email blasts already generate useful data, you can produce more precisely actionable data by A/B testing  emails with multiple versions.
Unfortunately, some major email marketing providers don’t make A/B testing easy. Constant Contact, for example, has yet to integrate any type of automated A/B testing tool into its software platform, so users have to create completely separate emails and subscriber lists in order to run tests. If your small business uses this type of email marketing software, you may find testing to be a burden, but it’s definitely useful if you have the time.
Luckily, email platforms with built-in split test tools do exist. GetResponse, for example, offers an integrated A/B testing tool that lets users create an email, choose an element to test in two versions, and automatically send out both versions to custom percentages of an email list. You can set both versions of an email to gradually go out to selected percentages (i.e. 50/50), and then as results come in, the software automatically determines which version is performing better and sends that version to the remaining recipients on your list.
Running simple A/B tests like this through email marketing  software can help you continually optimize your emails to improve results. Optimize subject lines, greetings, font colors, button colors, content organization, etc.
By taking advantage of these three neglected email marketing tools  (or just one), your small business can increase the ROI of your software investment and improve your overall marketing strategy. And what you learn from email marketing might even benefit other marketing channels.
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