Top 10 E-mail Marketing Tips

By Lauren Simonds | Posted February 10, 2009

If you're looking for affordable ways to attract and retain customers – and these days, who isn't – an e-mail marketing campaign makes a great addition to your business arsenal; but where to start?

Mélanie Attia, the product-marketing manager for Campaigner, spoke recently at the Small Business Summit in New York City and presented 10 tips for a building a successful e-mail marketing campaign. Her best-practice tips make an excellent starting point for reaching out to customers and building loyal and lasting relationships.

1.Don't Buy E-mail Lists

Unsolicited e-mail is just a polite term for spam. When you buy an e-mail list, you're simply spamming people who never asked you to e-mail them. Unsolicited e-mail promotions can quickly ruin your company's reputation.

2. Build Your Own E-mail List

Permission-based e-mail builds the value of your brands, increases sales and builds relationships with your current and prospective customers. You can build your list by talking to people, adding a sign-up form to your Web site and by providing something of value in exchange for their e-mail address – a newsletter, a discount coupon or other incentive, or more information about your products and services.

3. Segment: Divide and Conquer

You have different relationships with your customers, so there's no point in sending the same e-mail to all of them. Personalize your message based on who they are. Segment based on the information that you have through previous interactions: what they've purchased or info they’ve requested.

4. Be Aware of Regulations

You need to know about and comply with regulations such as Can-Spam, or face financial penalties. For example, if someone opts out of your e-mail newsletter, you have to remove that person from your list within 10 days. Also keep in mind that f you're e-mailing outside the U.S., it’s important to be aware of laws in those countries, too

5. Frequency and Length are Inversely Proportional

If you e-mail your customers frequently, you need to keep the communication short and to the point. Limit a daily e-mail to a page or less and a weekly to five pages or less. You can go longer with a monthly, but only if your news is really exciting.

6. Build Loyalty Through E-mail

Your e-mail list is your most precious asset. Reward the customers who let you e-mail them with discounts and other offers. Make them VIPs, and let them know they get this info because they’re apart of the VIP list. People enjoy feeling special, and that they’re getting something extra.

7. Use Your Metrics

Measuring your results lets you know if what you're trying is effective. Are your customers opening and reading your e-mails? Are they clicking through to your site? It's crucial for you to understand what works and what doesn’t. Apply what you learn from trial-and-error testing.

8. Holidays All Year 'Round

Holidays are more than Christmas. Leverage all of them – Valentine's Day, Presidents Day, Halloween ‑‑ and create specific promotions around them.

9. Automate Your Campaigns

You can automate key messaging or even reward customers. For example, you can set up a campaign that sends a greeting – and a 15 percent off their next purchase coupon ‑‑ to your customers on their birthdays.

10. Give Your E-mail Personality

Use your own voice. Your customers want to hear from you. A nice, conversational tone lets you reach out on a personal level and build rapport with your customers.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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