There is a misconception that email marketing is old news. Nothing could be further from the truth. Email marketing boosts sales, allows you to reconnect with customers, establishes your authority and is a fantastic way to generate new leads. At the heart of an email marketing campaign is the email list. But growing a quality list is a tedious and time-consuming task. These tips will get you back to the basics and help you generate better results.

Keep it Simple

Avoid registration forms that contain too many fields. Limit it to first name, last name and an email address. The registration process should also be completed in a single click. Avoid redirecting subscribers to another page that requests additional information once the subscriber clicks the confirmation link.

Add Value to Your Content

Don’t just bombard your website visitors with product offers and promotions. Offer free advice and build up trust over time. Visitors need to feel that they trust you and know you before they can offer their email addresses and reach for their credit cards. Free advice can come in the form of site content such as blog articles or free eBooks.

Be Upfront: Tell Visitors What to Expect

How many times do you intend to email subscribers, daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly? What kind of information will you be sending them, company updates, a newsletter, deals, tips? Be frank with your subscribers and disclose as much information as possible at signup so that they can know what they are getting themselves into. Don’t break the promise.

Speak to the Person

Email marketing software comes with built-in generic message modules. It’s not advisable to send emails using these “canned” messages because many Internet users have become accustomed to them and don’t take them seriously. Customize each email that goes out so that it speaks directly to the person.

Be Concise and Alt Tag Your Images

The key to communication is to use language that your audience understands. Avoid technical language, colloquialisms and jargon. You only have a few seconds to capture their attention, so be succinct and to the point. Make your text easy to read by dividing it into headings, sub-headings and short paragraphs. Images take time to load and may not load on some email programs depending on the security settings, so be sure to use alt tags on images.

Leverage Social Media to Increase Subscriptions

In addition to your website, ask your follows on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and any other socials sites you use to subscribe to your email list. Every post asking them to do so should mention the benefits in one sentence; this calls for creativity.

Unsubscribing Should Be Easy

The last thing you want is to annoy subscribers to the point at which they mark you as spam. If someone wants to unsubscribe, the process should be easy and involve a single click. Don’t conceal unsubscribe buttons.

Monitor, Learn and Improve

Have a system to monitor what works and what doesn’t. There are various metrics you must watch closely such as: the rate at which emails are opened, the rate at which subscribers unsubscribe, the conversion rate and the click rate. Monitoring these carefully will help you replicate success. Monitoring, learning and improvement is a continuous and never-ending process. With experience, you can begin segmenting your market and running test campaigns.

Have a Content Strategy and Editorial Calendar

Come up with six-month plan for the content and messaging you want to go out. An editorial calendar has a number of advantages. First, it helps you avoid last minute scrambling to find content; you have ample time to come up with ideas. It also ensures you email regularly and on time. Most of all, it gives you a bird’s-eye view of your email marketing campaign.

Cross sell and Upsell

Have you noticed how when you view products on e-commerce sites such as Amazon or eBay, you receive an email shortly thereafter with similar product suggestions? This is cross-selling and up-selling on steroids. Advanced analytics makes possible this kind of customer engagement. You don’t have to do it at the same level or with the same sophistication; the basic idea is to understand your customers and find out what else could be of interest to them.

Don’t Forget Your Social Media Profiles

We have already said your email list should feed off your social media followers, but the reverse is also true. Including social media buttons in your email content not only grows your follows but also makes it possible for subscribers to share the content.

Finally, we must reiterate that email marketing is here to stay. You may be wondering about email due to the meteoric rise of social media and its place in content marketing, but this by no means makes email marketing the ugly duckling. On the contrary, email continues to command a huge audience and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

Consider this: 77 percent of people still prefer to receive commercial permission-based messages on email. The import of this is that people’s mindsets are fixed on how they prefer to use each communication channel available to them. To most, social media is for fun, and email is for business. You can’t argue with that.

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