Welcome to Breaking the Blueprint — a new blog series that dives into the unique business challenges and opportunities of Black business owners and entrepreneurs. Learn how they’ve grown or scaled their businesses, explored entrepreneurial ventures within their companies, or created side hustles, and how their stories can inspire and inform your own success.
We live in a digital era, and people are still checking their emails daily, so strong email marketing strategies are essential, especially for Black-owned businesses.
When thinking about creating the best email marketing strategies, make sure you are authentic and tell your community your story.
Do a brain dump of your ideas if you need to find purpose and discover the expected outcome for each marketing strategy you are working to create.
The Black community supports you best when you're honest, so they can empathize with you.
"The most effective email marketing campaigns we've launched have been those that are authentic, tell our story, and bring our audience along for the ride. In the early days before we launched our company, all we had was our story to draw people into our funnel," THE MOST founder and CEO Dawn Myers told HubSpot.
Myers adds, "Be vulnerable. Show the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. Show that you identify with their pain points and how much you've sacrificed to be able to serve them. This tactic builds deep credibility and trust."
Below, you can find five email strategies that have worked for Black business owners today.
Additionally, for additional email marketing resources, check out these blogs on how to create an outstanding marketing plan and how to craft successful email marketing plans, with downloadable templates included.
Successful Email Marketing Strategies for Black-Owned Businesses
1. Find out what else your audience cares about in correlation with your mission.
If someone subscribes to your email list, it's safe to say they have already heard of your product or find it interesting, so it's important to dig deeper beyond that.
Ariel Butler, founder and CEO of hair and skin products company Shea Adé, learned that people mainly care about when the company is emailing about sales when it comes to product-based businesses. It can also get daunting if emails are about the same products consumers have already heard about.
"I'd recommend brands find other topics to email their audience about (blog posts, free ebooks, etc.)," she said. "Everything outside of that should be emails about sales or new product releases as opposed to the emails that look like 'Hey, don't forget to buy this full-priced item that I've been bugging you about 4X a week!'"
One strategy that works for Butler is sending daily affirmations to her customers. She started trying out this simple email tactic since her brand's mission is all about not only healing hair but healing beyond the scalp.
"I want my customers to wake up every day and feel good about how they look," Butler said. "Since I started sending out those emails, I have been completely blown away by how enjoyable daily affirmations have been for my customers. Some people have only been introduced to my brand because someone told them about our emails, and when they found out that Shea Adé is a hair company, they supported me because they resonated with my brand's mission to heal."
2. Connect with your customers weekly.
Every week, Raven Gibson, founder and CEO of Legendary Rootz, sends out a campaign that allows email subscribers to download a free personal digital wallpaper.
She says this is her best email marketing strategy, and she coined it "Wallpaper Wednesday." Over the years, Gibson's audience has expressed to her that while they want to support her business, they don't have the funds to do so. She recognized this problem and came up with a free solution to still connect with her community.
"Typically, the design centers around celebrating Black culture or an important reminder of the day," Gibson said. "This marketing strategy has allowed for our email list to grow, and given us the opportunity to connect with our community."
Gibson runs a similar campaign on Tuesdays where she connects with her followers by highlighting their love for natural hair. She sees this as a way to share community and emphasize the importance of Black hair culture. Gibson also uses these emails to share exclusive deals and product restocks specifically for email subscribers.
These weekly email marketing campaigns have helped drive an excellent return on investment, Gibson said.
"Investing in email marketing has allowed us to stretch our marketing dollars while making a meaningful connection with our community," Gibson said.
3. Launch an engaging outreach campaign.
Creating outreach campaigns can grab people's attention while providing a more significant incentive beyond expecting folks to just read your emails.
Alvarez Mckendall, a serial entrepreneur and digital marketing strategist, is responsible for social media and email marketing at Real Estate Bees, a technology and marketing platform for the real estate industry. One of his most successful email marketing strategies is interviewing the professionals and business owners with which he's trying to connect.
Mckendall said this strategy is most effective because it helps consumers understand what the business is offering and how potential customers can benefit from it based on what he learns in those interviews.
Mckendall transformed Real Estate Bees' previous email questionnaire into an interview-style questionnaire and adjusted email templates and subject lines to indicate his company's desire to interview the business owner or a key member instead of completing a boring questionnaire.
"Just like your friends and family members, business owners love to get attention and feel important," Mckendall said. "Appealing to one's ego is an extremely effective technique whenever you want to get their attention and start building a business relationship."
When Mckendall launched the outreach campaign, Real Estate Bees' email open rate was 25-27%, and the response rate was about 1%.
"I was constantly thinking about how we could improve it," he said.
Based on this campaign, Real Estate Bees' email open rate has improved to 42%, and the response rate increased by 3%. It's essential to make your campaigns engaging by including hyperlinks, photos, videos, and whatever else makes sense for your brand.
4. Make allies with other businesses by doing press partnerships.
Networking and building partnerships can be handy for email marketing strategies, too. Francis Perdue, CEO of public relations firm Perdue Inc., suggests Black business owners team up to expand their following by promoting each other.
The free promotion exposes different audiences to new products and services, and it also helps build community by connecting various consumers.
"No money is exchanged, yet it does wonders for your businesses," Perdue said. "Share each other's audiences to support one another. Creating an e-blast for an event or cause for someone in exchange for the same will grow your reach and show that you are committed to the community while promoting unity."
If you don't know where to start, pick up your phone and see what emails you have in your contact list already. When Perdue launched her firm over a decade ago, she said she didn't know many people in the industry, but she had a strong community of friends, old colleagues, and former classmates.
She did an e-blast to promote her new business, and right off the back, she got 200 subscribers. More than 2,500 people are subscribed to Perdue Inc.'s email list, all of which came from Perdue's organic outreach via her network.
"People want to support you; you'd be surprised," she said. "Get out and network. I own a restaurant, so I know the importance of repeat customers."
5. Use tools, applications, and other digital resources.
Building email marketing strategies can be tedious and time-consuming, especially if you're
releasing emails weekly. It's okay to build out your campaigns yourself, but if you're looking for something new or different, here are some tools, applications, and resources that Black business owners use to better connect with their audiences:
- "This may sound crazy, but I believe TikTok is an amazing way to drive customers to your brand and your email list." — Butler.
- "Switching to Klaviyo for all email correspondence helped with increasing our abandoned cart click rate from 4% to 7%. I am so happy that I took the time to switch over from Shopify and set it up." — Gibson.
- "We have been using the BuzzStream tool to send out emails and monitor all the analytics and stats." — Mckendall.
- "I love Adobe XD. It's a prototyping application; however, I use it to craft all of our email marketing collateral. My favorite feature is the ability to duplicate and switch up the content in a split second. After creating specific templates for Wallpaper Wednesday or an exclusive email-only sale, I can reuse them again with just the click of a few buttons. I've found that using these templates allows me to streamline the process immensely." — Gibson.
- "Some email marketing apps range from $0 to $100 a month. The good news is that usually, under 200 contacts are free. Use GoDaddy when you start your website to get coupons for marketing from their partners to cut costs as well." — Perdue.
- "I love the website Really Good Emails. It is a gold mine for all things email. The site is very well-organized, and you can find just about any topic within the site. It's almost like the Pinterest of email marketing." — Gibson.