What is eDM marketing and how does it work for small businesses?

Electronic direct mail (eDM) marketing is one of the most useful, powerful and valuable tools in the SMB toolbox.

It’s relatively easy to do, relatively affordable and offers a strong average return on investment (ROI. In other words, it offers a lot but asks for little.

Email marketing, however, is used by just 64.1% of small businesses, which suggests there’s plenty of room for improvement for SMBs looking to tap into this economical marketing resource.

Here’s your guide to what eDM marketing is, why it’s so beneficial to SMBs in particular, and how you can make the most of your email marketing campaigns.

What is eDM marketing?

Electronic direct mail (eDM) marketing has been around for a lot longer than other forms of digital marketing, such as social media and Google AdWords. But in this case, age has little to do with effectiveness, as eDM marketing offers some of the best returns in the business.

On average, email marketing returns $36 for every $1 spent – a figure that is unmatched across the marketing sector. For industries such as retail, eCommerce and consumer goods, the average return is even higher.

Put simply, email marketing is the practice of sending emails to customers who have opted in to receive those messages.

You’ll be familiar with these kinds of emails as a consumer and customer yourself. They can be:

  • Newsletters
  • Promotional messages (sales, discounts, special offers etc)
  • Personalised birthday messages
  • Follow up emails for recent purchases or store visits
  • Product or service updates
  • Useful information such as how-tos
  • Customer surveys
  • Competitions and giveaways

RELATED: 5 email marketing terms you need to know.

The benefits of eDM marketing for small business. 

eDM marketing is easily accessible for small businesses and you don’t need a vast marketing department – or any marketing department at all – to begin an email marketing campaign. But the ready availability of email marketing is only the beginning when it comes to its benefits for SMBs.

Building customer relationships and trust.

It’s rare for a business to be able to so easily contact and communicate with customers. Even on social media there are no guarantees that your followers will even see your posts. With eDMs, however, there’s a good chance your customers will at least notice your email in their inbox, which is a potential pathway to building a relationship with them.

Emails can help to communicate your brand, your products and services, and your ability to offer customers something they need or want. You can build trust by not emailing them too often (which may be seen as spam) and by only sending them messages that are relevant and interesting to them.

Measurable results. 

As the famous saying goes, ‘Half my advertising spend is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.’

That’s because, in advertising, it’s notoriously difficult to measure results accurately. Yet this is not the case with email marketing.

Email marketing offers clear and concise results, from click-through rates and direct conversions, to website traffic generated by each email, and even unsubscribes.

Any good email marketing platform, such as MailChimp or Thryv, will give you clear reports on each email you send, so you can quickly see how many people opened your email and made a purchase.

In being measurable, you can see exactly how valuable your eDM campaigns are and – better yet – work to improve them (more on that shortly).

Low time and financial investment.

Setting up an email campaign takes little time and financial investment when compared with other marketing strategies, which can be a boon for small business owners who are short on both.

Cost is often counted as CPM – cost per mille – which is how much you pay per thousand emails. Typically, this works out at around a cent per email, or even less if you’re sending larger quantities.

As for time, putting together a number of emails is relatively straightforward, but even more so when you take advantage of the huge array of email marketing tools available today. These platforms offer templates and imagery that can help to simplify and speed up the process.

Don’t start email marketing without these goals in place.

The trick to email marketing is to begin with a clear goal and ensure every decision and action you take keeps that goal in focus.

So which goals can you work towards through email marketing?

Improve open rates. 

The open rate of any email campaign is the number of people who actually opened the email, expressed as a percentage. On average, Australian businesses have one of the highest open rates in the world, with 20.6% of marketing emails being opened.

A good goal is to aim to improve these open rates so that more people will see your emails.

Improving open rates often comes down to writing an excellent subject line that encourages customers to open the email and learn more.

Improve click-through rates. 

Similarly, Australia’s click-through rates are also world-leading, at 3.1%. This refers to the percentage of customers who click through to your website or landing page from the email.

Improving your click-through rates will increase your website traffic, which is beneficial for SEO, and can encourage customers to further explore your products, content and brand.

RELATED: Email marketing tips to improve your open and click-through rates.

Improve conversions.

The conversion rate is the number of customers who took you up on your call to action (CTA) in the email. This could be anything from filling out a survey, rating a product or making a purchase.

Be sure to compare only like conversions with like (rather than comparing purchases with eBook downloads, for example) for a better understanding of whether you are improving your conversion rate over time.

How to track your email marketing performance. 

Determining your email marketing performance should be relatively simple.

You can use these basic equations to work out your rates yourself:

Open rate: (Number of opened emails ÷ number of people the email was sent to) x 100

Click-through rate: (Total number of clicks ÷ number of emails sent) x 100

Conversion rate: (Number of people who completed the desired action ÷ number of emails delivered) x 100

Even though it’s simple enough to do it yourself, it’s even easier to use one of the many tools on the market available to SMBs for email marketing campaign management and measurement. Many of these email marketing tools automatically calculate and track these metrics for you.

RELATED: How to measure the success of your email marketing.

The best tools and software for your eDM email marketing strategies. 

There are a number of tools for small businesses to use to manage and measure their eDM marketing strategies.


MailChimp is one of the most commonly used tools on the market, with more than 13 million businesses using the platform to organise email marketing. It offers everything from templates and subject line assistance to measurement tools and analytics, all in an easy-to-use format.


MailerLite is a free tool for SMBs that allows you to send emails to 1,000 subscribers. This can be useful for small businesses just getting started who don’t have much to invest in eEDM marketing tools as yet. It helps you to build your campaigns, target segments of your audience and measure the results,


Thryv offers a full suite of marketing tools specifically designed for small businesses, including email marketing automation software. You can also lean on the ready-to-use email templates to save time and explore your successes with detailed analysis and insights. And that’s just the email software.

Sign up for a free trial with Thryv to see how it can ramp up your email marketing strategies and assist with the rest of your customer relationship management (CRM) needs. 

Talk to Yellow Pages about automating your eDM campaigns with Thryv.

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