Your list isn't just a collection of email addresses—it's a collection of people who've shown interest in your product or service.
It's important to keep these relationships personal. As soon as they become fields in a spreadsheet, it's easy to treat them as data points. Even the easily automated task of managing your email list can become personal, to build trusted business supporters.
You can personalize your message in a few ways. Think of any relationship—you interact differently with strangers, casual acquaintances and trusted friends. That logic applies to your subscribers, too. A brand-new customer has different needs than a long-standing one; a prospect who is just collecting information has an entirely different set of interests. When you meet people where they are in the customer life cycle, you show respect.
Beyond that, you can invite people to share information with you that will help you provide content they'll find relevant and interesting. Take advantage of preference centers, where customers can specify interests (like certain product lines) and frequency (like monthly or quarterly updates).
Every interaction you have with potential and current customers is a chance to build trust and demonstrate expertise, and the emails you send are no exception. Especially for b-to-b users, expert content is how your emails stand out in the inbox. Your past email data provide a unique segmenting opportunity as well. Take a few moments to gather the folks who click on certain types of content, and then send more of that information to those groups.
Instead of just bombarding your audience with messages, keep the conversation timely and useful. Just like social media, your email marketing strategy should be about engagement, not frequency.
Nielsen Co. statistics show that 93% of us subscribe to at least one business' email marketing list. Just because email is the most widely consumed medium doesn't mean it has to be the most stale one. Keep it fresh and keep it personal. Remember, there's a real person on the other side of that inbox.
Carolyn Kopprasch works with email marketing services provider Emma's (myemma.com) agency partners to provide training, resources and personalized consultations.