How to Start an Email Marketing Business
Starting an email marketing company from your home is a great way to capitalize on strong writing, data, and marketing skills. Good email marketing campaigns are measurably effective for businesses of all sizes. They are also an overwhelming idea for small business owners, who are unsure about the technology and terrified of alienating potential customers, making someone with expertise in this field a valuable asset.
Below, we’ve done the legwork for you to provide a free guide to starting a home-based email marketing business today.
What is an email marketing business?
While there are two ways to cover email marketing businesses, this post will focus more on the agency or freelancer model of businesses (performing email marketing on behalf of others). But keep in mind many people launch entire publishing companies centered around email marketing.
Your email marketing business could make a substantial difference in a company’s ROI. Every business can benefit from an effective email campaign, but few business owners are equipped to make the most of this channel.
As an expert in email, you’ll need to focus on these tasks to master the email marketing business for your clients.
What Does an Email Marketing Business Do?
An email marketing company is hired as a consultant by a business to work with email automation software using email lists that customers have opted into. This is distinguished from spam marketing, which works on email lists that customers have not opted into.
Email marketers create email marketing plans, design and implement campaigns, and nurture leads through written communication. Email marketing provides a high return on investment for businesses, so it is very popular. Done with integrity, email marketing delivers targeted messages to a willing audience, driving revenue in an easily measured way. Additionally, the effectiveness of email marketing is only growing. The ROI for email marketing is estimated to be $32 for every $1 spent.
How to Start an Email Marketing Business
1. Identify your client.
No matter how amazing your marketing campaigns might be, they won’t be right for everyone. Your ideal customer isn’t the company that has a full internal staff to handle their digital marketing needs. And it won’t be the client that doesn’t realize the importance of email marketing—unless you convince them.
The best customer is the one that has experimented with this mode of advertising, maybe had some success, and then didn’t have the time to make the most of their opportunities.
This business recognizes the importance of an effective email campaign but doesn’t have the time, knowledge, or resources to put it into motion.
2. Create a Business Plan for Your Email Marketing Business
Before you get started, you’ll need an idea of what resources you’ll need—and how to monetize your business in a practical way. We’ve answered the biggest questions about clients, costs, and profits below.
Who is the target audience?
As a freelance email marketing consultant, you will need to understand your target audience. It will not be companies that are so big they employ their own people to handle their marketing needs. And it won’t be companies so small they don’t think they need email marketing services. You’re going to be charged with finding those companies that understand the value of email marketing and have maybe tried it themselves, but don’t have the time or technological expertise to fully realize its potential. These will probably be successful local and regional companies with a defined and growing brand.
How much money will it take to get started?
The start-up costs for an email marketing business are very low. All you’ll need is a laptop and a marketing platform like ConvertKit, ConstantContact, EmailOctopus, or Hubspot. These platforms charge a monthly fee (ConvertKit, for example, cost $60 per month) and charge a small fee for each email sent. You’ll also need an excellent web page of your own from which you can market your services.
3. Identify your client’s needs.
Businesses have plenty in common when it comes to the challenges of successful email marketing. Creating campaigns that present relevant information and convert customers down the sales journey is vital for just about any user of email marketing. But they may need someone to code emails, build them in a template, write copy and content, or develop advanced marketing automation journeys.
4. Legally Form Your Email Marketing Business
If you opt for a sole proprietorship or general partnership, there’s no formal paperwork to file to legally create your entity—you just start selling your product or service. However, you will not have any liability protections or tax flexibility.
LLCs and corporations are formed by filing paperwork with a state agency, typically the Secretary of State. To start an LLC, you file articles of organization. To start a corporation, you file articles of incorporation. In most states, you can file these forms online or download a paper form from the state’s website.
5. Get an EIN and Register for Taxes
Nearly all LLCs and corporations will need to request a federal employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. If you file corporate income taxes, have employees, or file certain franchise taxes, you must have an EIN. An EIN is also a common requirement for opening a business bank account. Most businesses can request an EIN by filling out the IRS’s online form.
Your EIN is for federal taxes—but you’ll likely have state and local tax obligations as well. You will most likely need to set up an account with the state’s Department of Revenue, and you may need to apply for a state tax ID or a sales tax license as well.
6. Select a Name for Your Email Marketing Business
Have a great name idea? Before you start marketing and branding your business, you’ll need to ensure your name is available. Most states prohibit or restrict businesses from adopting names that are already in use. Even if it’s legally allowed, a copycat name puts your business at risk of a lawsuit.
Trademarks and Domain Names
Plan to trademark your business name? You can see if the trademark is available on a website like Trademarkia. It’s also a good idea to see if the domain name is available, which you can do on websites like Network Solutions and GoDaddy. Even if you don’t plan on putting together a website right away, you can buy the domain name to make sure no one takes it in the meantime.
7. Choose a Business Structure
Should you form an LLC? A sole proprietorship? Your choice of business structure will affect many aspects of your business, from liability to taxes.
Sole Proprietorships & General Partnerships
If you don’t file any paperwork to legally form a different kind of business—you have a sole proprietorship or general partnership. Essentially, these are “default” business structures. A sole proprietorship has one owner, and a partnership has multiple owners.
LLCs & Corporations
Limited liability companies (LLCs) and corporations are business entities formed at the state level. The entity is legally separate from its owners, meaning the owners are not personally liable for the debts and obligations of the business. As a separate entity, the business also has multiple tax election options. For example, both LLCs and corporations can choose to be taxed as S-corps if they meet the requirements.
8. Obtain Required Licenses and Permits
Many businesses will need a business license to operate. Licensing information—as well as any zoning requirements or other permits—can usually be found on the city or county website.
If your home is part of a homeowner’s association, you’ll also be subject to any of their restrictions for home-based businesses. Some areas may also require home-based businesses to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy.
9. Create Internal Policies and Procedures
It’s important to put your company’s internal policies and procedures in a written document, especially if you’re starting your business with others. Partnerships have partnership agreements. LLCs have operating agreements. Corporations have bylaws.
These documents look a bit different for each kind of business, but they serve the same general purpose. They ensure there’s a clear path forward for any major issue that may arise, from changes in ownership to closing the business. LLCs and corporations also typically need an operating agreement or bylaws in order to open a bank account.
10. Open a Bank Account
A business bank account keeps your personal finances separate from your business finances. For LLCs and corporations, keeping separate finances is essential for maintaining liability protection. To open an account, LLCs and corporations typically need to bring to the bank a copy of their articles, their operating agreement or bylaws, and their EIN.
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