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8 Email Marketing Tips and Tricks

Email marketing is not going anywhere. According to a study by ExactTarget, 77% of consumers prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications through email. Additionally, using email as the primary source of marketing for small businesses is on the rise. 41% of small businesses nationwide now use email to market to their customers, a nearly 25% increase from last year, a 2013 survey by AT&T shows.

Make the most of your email marketing efforts by following these quick—and easy—rules:

1. Consider the format.

43% of emails are read on mobile devices—that's up from 10% in 2011—according to research conducted by Litmus, an email-testing and analytics firm. Ensure that all messages you send are mobile-friendly. Include plenty of links and streamline your formatting and copy.

2. Rethink the 'From' line.

The verdict is still out on this one. Some marketing experts recommend using your brand or company name; others suggest using the actual name and email address of someone within your organization because it is more personal. Decide which option is best for your company by answering one simple question: Are people more likely to recognize me or the company name/brand? Also use a legitimate "From" email address that reinforces your brand. Example: jford@writingforyou.com has more credibility than jford@yahoo.com or info@writingforyou.com.

3. Write a killer subject line.

That fancy template you chose and great copy you wrote won't matter one bit if people don't open the message. Increase your open rates by writing intriguing yet concise and direct subject lines. Provide a short benefit statement of no more than 40 to 45 characters. Example: "Save 50% off leaf cleanup and removal." You may also infer a benefit to entice them to open the email by saying something like “Have tax questions? Get answers quickly…”

4. Establish a clear call to action.

Recipients should know exactly what you want them to do with the message. Clearly define any steps they must take to redeem an offer, make a purchase or receive an incentive. If you don't, many people are sure to miss the point of your message. Stick to one call to action in order to avoid confusion.

5. Watch your language.

If your email is caught in a spam filter, your messages will never reach potential customers. Furthermore, you could end up in a world of trouble if you fail to comply with the CAN-SPAM act. Avoid these problems by referencing HubSpot's comprehensive list of words and phrases to avoid using.

6. Don't botch your first connection.

When you make initial contact with an email subscriber, avoid the hard sell. Don't offer a sales pitch or attempt to close a deal in the first sentence. Instead, build rapport and familiarity. Very briefly introduce yourself, your business or the service you provide. Then invite customers to contact you directly, register for a free event, join your mailing list or sign up for a free report or newsletter. You'll be much more likely to draw people in if you don't smack them in the face with promotional copy.

7. Add a personal touch.

Personalization goes a long way. Some people choose to invest in systems that will allow you to add people's names to the subject line and body of the messages, but this approach is not for everybody. You can segment your mailing list, for example, by geography, age or purchase history and then send messages written specifically for each group. Example: "This is a quick message to check in and make sure that you are happy with your purchase of the XYZ Widget you bought from us last month. I also wanted to let you know about an upcoming sale we're having on accessories for the XYZ."

8. Offer valuable freebies.

You have to give customers a reason to open your messages, so whether you choose to offer coupons or discounts, sponsor free events, invite readers to sign up for a free content newsletter, or dole out special reports or industry insight, just make sure that you offer something of value. Free should never mean cheap. Before you decide on an incentive, fully evaluate and understand your customers' needs. Decide what information or tools will make their lives easier or better and then offer it to them.

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