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There’s a rumor circulating the Internet that e-mail is dead. The rumor-mongers say that with stronger spam laws and shorter customer attention spans, your e-mails are simply not working anymore.

Obviously, the naysayers don’t understand how to use e-mail effectively to build their brand and small business. Without question, there are many instances in which e-mail is incredibly ineffective. For instance, if you send out mass e-mails to an untargeted list, your efforts will undoubtedly be in vain.

However, it’s essential to understand that e-mail is, first and foremost, a tool for developing and strengthening one-on-one relationships with prospects and existing clients and customers.

Here are a number of key factors to keep in mind when using e-mail as a marketing tool:

1. Build Your Own List

If you are interested in the highest open and click-through rates, then you need to begin building your own e-mail list. The simplest way to accomplish this is to put up a form on your website that collects the names and e-mails of your most interested prospects.

In addition, you should offer something of value in exchange for your prospect’s personal information (ezine, special report, audio series, etc.). Obviously, individuals who have given you permission to send them information via e-mails are going to be a much more targeted and interested prospect.

2. Offer Value

For your e-mail marketing efforts to produce fantastic results, you must provide valuable and relevant information to your subscribers. If, on the other hand, you insist on sending constant “sales messages” you’ll quickly find your database dwindling into obscurity.

It’s important that you put into effect the 80/20 marketing rule. Simply stated, 80 percent of your e-mails should offer informational tools, resources and content. Only 20 percent of your e-mails should sell your products and services.

3. Segment Your List

Many small business owners make the mistake of sending out the same e-mails to everyone on their lists. Although your e-mails may contain valuable and interesting information, you need to ensure you understand your list and segment them according to a recent behavior or action.

For instance, if one of your prospects makes a purchase, they should be placed into an e-mail list that is reserved for your current customers and clients. Since this segment of your subscribers has already made a purchase, you will be able to up-sell them, cross-sell them and down-sell them more effectively than a “cold prospect.”

4. Don’t Ignore CAN-SPAM

As a small business owner, you simply can’t ignore the current spam laws. In fact, if you do, your ISP will quickly become blacklisted and it will be very difficult for your e-mails to get through to your subscribers.

At the very minimum, make sure to post your privacy policy, list your company’s address and make it obvious how they can opt-out of your list. In addition, whenever one of your subscribers does opt-out, you must remove their name within 10 days of the request.

5. Be Consistent

Don’t make the mistake of communicating too infrequently with your list. If you only send out a monthly ezine, your prospects will most likely forget about you between each issue. In addition, you’ll find more of your subscribers complaining that they never signed up for your information.

A good rule of thumb is to e-mail your list at least once a week and up to three times a week. Of course, you will need to test how often your prospects want to hear from you and remain dedicated to providing relevant information at least 80 percent of the time.

Obviously, e-mail marketing is not dead. In fact, it can be a highly effective marketing tool if used appropriately. It’s important to understand that an e-mail marketing campaign that produces the best results is based on a permission-based list, offers valuable information, segments subscribers, follows the CAN-SPAM laws and remains consistent.

If you follow these rules, you will effectively build your small business quickly and efficiently.


Jessica Swanson has helped thousands of small business owners, all over the world, implement low-cost, high-impact DIY marketing campaigns. Known for her energy, passion and “get-it-done” attitude, Jessica takes complicated marketing concepts, turns them upside-down, and makes them incredibly simple and outrageously straightforward. To download your free shoestring marketing kit, visit: www.ShoestringMarketingKit.com

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