Which e-mail marketing best practices are most important for small businesses?

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E-mail marketing is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to market a small business. Don't fall into the trap of thinking you need to know everything about e-mail before you get started. Just follow some of these best practices and you'll be off to the races:
  • Start by building an opt-in e-mail list. Opt in means that your customers have given you permission to send them e-mail communications. Make sure they know how often and under what circumstances they will receive e-mail from you. And remember to keep your lists clean by promptly deleting those who decide to stop receiving e-mail.
  • Know your customers' interests. Once the list is started, segment it—dividing customers by age, gender, preferences or other important criteria. Doing so will allow you to target customers more specifically and appropriately.
  • Make sure your content is relevant. The first thing readers do when they open an e-mail is ask themselves “What's in it for me?” You have about seven seconds to answer that question. No matter how good your message is, if it's not relevant to the interests of your customers, it's a failed campaign. Knowing your audience is the best way to ensure your e-mails connect with your customers. So remember to base your campaigns on what they want and like, aligning their interests with what you have to offer.
  • Remember to test campaigns and track your stats. Don't just send e-mails out and hope for the best; test campaigns to improve your results. Test things like subject line, offer, e-mail template or best day and time to send. Then track your results to see which variables work best. If you learn a little something from each e-mail, you'll go from novice to expert in no time.

Wendy Lowe is director of product marketing for Campaigner (, an e-mail marketing software product from Protus IP Solutions.

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