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A Winning Email Marketing Strategy

I've not done many email marketing campaigns and I've been remiss, because there are times when an email marketing campaign fits the bill. Content marketing, now known as the new advertising, is an excellent way to maintain contact with clients and cultivate prospects and that strategy forms the basis of email marketing campaigns.

What I needed to do was learn how to craft an effective email message that delivers information that readers will value; create a catchy subject line; avoid sending emails that appear to be spam; and reach out to those with money and motive to do business with my organization. In other words, I had to learn how to do a proper email marketing campaign. To that end, I invite you to copy my homework.

1. A good list

Everyone on your email list should want to receive your emails. Include a safe unsubscribe feature to allow those who would rather not receive your communications to opt out. When collecting names, ask the person if s/he would like to receive email updates from you.

To track emails sent, consider investing in Did They Read It, which will report to you the open (read) rate of your campaigns. The popular email marketing platform Constant Contact will for a reasonable fee both send your campaign emails and report their open rate as well.

According to the Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark study done by the marketing firm Silverpop in 2012, the average email campaign open rate is 20%. The click-through rate, that is, the measure of how many readers clicked on a link that was embedded in your email and the conversion rate, meaning the percentage of recipients who signed up for a special offer, made an inquiry, or made a purchase, reveals the value of your email list. Still, the basic open rate is a very telling measure because nothing happens until the email is read.

2. Information, not sales

A few paragraphs that give newsworthy updates about the industries of your principle client groups, or info that can be used to help list members solve a common problem, will greatly improve your email open rate.

Be mindful that an email marketing campaign is not the forum in which you swing for the fences and attempt to score a big sale or assignment. Rather, your campaign is the place to let your expertise shine as you offer no-cost value to current and prospective clients.

3. Subject line that pops

Be edgy and provocative. Be witty and amusing. Do not be boring. When your recipients are faced with a huge stack of emails to work through, entice them to open yours.

4. Eye candy

A picture is worth 1,000 words, so add a good photo or two to your email, one that communicates some aspect of your message. A short video of you speaking on a relevant topic, or a testimonial by one of your clients, are also compelling.

5. Easy call to action

Ask the recipient to take some action on the information that you've provided: take a survey, sign up to receive a free 30 minute consultation, sign up for your newsletter. Resist the temptation to go for the jugular and force a sale in your email marketing campaign. The more successful strategy is to persuade the recipient to make some small contact with you that appears to bring more benefit to them than it does to you. Build trust and familiarity first and you will become the obvious choice when your services are needed.

6. Optimize for mobile

It has been reported that nearly half of all emails are now opened up via smart phones or tablets. Figure out how to size and space your email text and links to make it easy to read on mobile devices.

Despite numerous pronouncements to the contrary, email marketing is alive and well, according to a January 2013 survey conducted by the marketing services provider Experian. Their survey indicated that correctly conceived email marketing campaigns remain the best way to draw traffic to your website and increase sales revenue. So copy my homework and get busy creating one for your business.


Kim L. Clark is a strategy and marketing consultant who works with for-profit and not-for-profit organization leaders who must achieve business goals. Kim is the founder and principal of the consulting firm Polished Professionals Boston and she teaches business plan writing to aspiring entrepreneurs. Learn how your organization can benefit when you work with Kim Polished Professionals of Boston.

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