Not that many years ago, email marketing was the latest (and greatest) form of communication. Then came an inbox full of spam and an industry with very little regulation. Marketers flocked to other communication channels and, for awhile, email marketing fell out of vogue.

Fast forward to 2013, the old email problems are gone. Today there are fantastic options for sophisticated email programs that are easy-to-use with beautiful templates, social media integration, list segmentation, reporting, and more. Best of all…they are incredibly affordable, some even free.

For small businesses, email marketing one of the most effective marketing tools around. Used in conjunction with other marketing efforts to get free traffic to your site, it’s a big win if managed properly. Learn how to improve profits with our favorite guides (sign-up for our free UpCity Daily Tips newsletter to get more secrets for winning with email marketing).

Five Essential Guides for Profitable Email Marketing

  1. Kissmetrics: Beginner’s Guide to Successful Email Marketing – Kissmetrics is a well-known web analytics software company. Their reporting allows small businesses to track various marketing channels to see which marketing efforts work and which do not.
    Why we love it: This guide systematically walks you though each step of email marketing. Visually appealing and easy-to-read, the guide provides direct links and screen shots that never leave you asking “so what does that mean?” It covers email campaigns as a whole and not written around the software of a specific provider.
  2. AWeber Communications: Email Marketing Guides – AWeber Communications is an email provider with affordable solutions to send your email campaigns. They offer a wealth of info in the resource center and strong affiliate program.

    Why we love it (them): Nine different email guides that are targeted to nine different industries. From dentists…to non-profits…to wine makers (and everything in between). If one is great, nine is even better! These downloadable PDFs are free for the taking and they encourage you to share.

  3. MailChimp: Email Marketing Field Guide – MailChimp is a leading email provider, their email software integrates with almost every platform. They’re on top of the trends and tend to be ahead of the curve on new email technologies. MailChimp offers a Forever Free service (12,000 emails a month and 2,000 email contacts) that meets many small business’ needs.

    Why we love it: Not as basic as the others, this Field Guide gets into the importance of HTML coding for email deliverability. Don’t let that scare you. They have some of the best email template around, no code required. But, if you are ready to take it to the next level, tips in the guide can help improve your email ‘open’ rate which should be a major goal of ALL email marketing campaigns.

  4. iContact: Email Marketing Guide – iContact is owned by Vocus, a leading publicity and marketing provider. Their site in general is extremely intuitive and their format might be more familiar to more mature users (i.e. those of us using email platforms 10 years ago) with topics clearly labeled and easy-to-find.

    Why we love it: Sections and sub-sections! Laid out more like a book than downloadable PDF, the main email categories are clearly divided so you can pick the section of interest and then drill down into sub-sections or browse through them all. The guide is superbly written in bite-size chunks, they are clearly part of a PR and marketing group.

  5. Network for Good: Email Marketing for Non-profits– 7 Steps to Better Fundraising and Email Communications – Network for Good is an online provider of charitable donations making it easy for your company or to donate online.

    Why we love it: Besides the feel-good nature of their work, they have created an outstanding guide that anyone in a non-profit fundraising sector can use. Full of rich content and easy steps, it’s a great resource for newbies and experts alike. It’s not available on a website, Network for Good, or it’s hidden which is a shame. It’s available as a simple viewable as a PDF in title link.

Email is just one of the marketing channels for SMBs to explore. These five guides will tell you everything you need to know to get started on your next profitable email campaign.