Email remains one of the most popular and effective methods of communicating and engaging with your customers between visits. With one study reporting a potential ROI yield of 4300% for email marketing, it’s clear that this is an area worth investing in. In this three-part series, we’ll take you through the stages for starting, refining and evaluating your email campaigns. Be sure to check back each Tuesday for the latest insights.

Check out Part One: 3 Thank-You Email Templates To Keep Customers Coming Back now!

For the second installment in our Email Marketing series, we’re looking at how to create an effective email marketing campaign. Now that you’ve been building your subscriber lists, and local marketing campaignssetting the tone for your online relationship with a clear and personal thank you/welcome email, it’s time to get started! But with 47% of people unsubscribing simply because they receive too many emails from businesses in general, be sure to make it count each time you hit “send”. When it comes to their inbox, you’re not just going head-to-head vs. competitors in your industry, but against the barrage of emails your customer receives daily. Fear not, with these tips your emails will be more likely to resonate with your customers and improve your open and click-through rates.

As always, Signpost is here to help with this process, by sending automated messages and offering business owners the flexibility to create custom campaigns.

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Segment, Personalize and Repeat

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating that consumers like (and have even come to expect) custom recommendations and content tailored to their interests and preferences. Sending out a quick survey to learn more about their buying behavior can help position your business for success further down the funnel. This can either be done by a formal survey through sites like SurveyMonkey, or more informally by asking a few general questions and offering an exclusive promotion to those that respond. Continue to chat with customers in person about their interests to refine the content of your emails. Determine the various buckets that comprise the full offering of your products and/or services, and continuously sort your email list by these topics. 25% of people unsubscribe from email lists because it was never relevant to begin with, but by sending targeted messages they’re more likely to be interested, open and engage with your messages.

This might seem like a tall order, but in the beginning you can utilize the data you already have. How did they sign up for your list? If it was through a promotion, you know incentives are a great motivator for that customer. If they signed up online, through your blog, or when they made a purchase on your site, you know that they might prefer shopping and browsing online. By monitoring different metrics, such as open and click-through rates, you can continue to optimize your segmentation. But don’t worry too much about that yet, as we’ll be diving more into metrics and evaluation methods in part three.

Get Whitelisted

It doesn’t matter how wonderful or life-changing your email is, if it doesn’t make it to your recipients’ inboxes, there’s no point in sending it. As email services continue to advance, so do their screening processes for which messages are marked as spam and rerouted accordingly. Additionally, some (like Gmail) provide automatic segmentation that causes a lot of emails from businesses to be routed to the “Promotions” folder, which oftentimes becomes neglected or secondary to their “Primary” folder.

One way to prevent this unfortunate outcome is to get your mailing address whitelisted. Getting whitelisted is equivalent to being marked as a friend, and one of the most effective ways to achieve this is by being added to the recipient’s address book. Make sure to provide step-by-step instructions guiding subscribers through the process at the top of each email, especially on the initial thank you and initial emails. This is why the first follow-up email is so crucial to the success of your email marketing efforts!

Protip: Using a donotreply@ email address has been linked to low open rates. This could be because this type of address is seen as off-putting and inaccessible; two adjectives you never want associated with your email marketing! Better to have it come from a specific person’s name, in order to make recipients feel as though they’re responding and corresponding with a real person and not a robot.

Socialize Your Emails

Adding social sharing buttons to emails allows readers to easily post about your business on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social media platforms. These buttons also drive engagement, increasing click through rates by 158%.

Keep Your Content Fresh

Did you know that 49% of people unsubscribe from emails because their content eventually became too stale or repetitive? Combat email fatigue by creating an editorial calendar for your correspondence. This ensures that you won’t revisit the same subject too often, and can also help you structure your correspondence around seasonal trends and events. Although it can seem like a daunting task initially, this calendar will save you hours of frustration when it comes time to execute, and will create a more consistent and better experience overall for your subscribers.

Be sure to utilize your email list segmentation as well in this pursuit. If you’re a boutique that focuses on women’s fashion you could send out a digest of accessory, shoe or clothing trends for each season. Or, if you’re a hair salon you can send out a newsletter about popular celebrity haircuts this season and how your stylists have adapted them for customers.

Include Local News in Your Newsletter

Include news from around your area to solidify your business’s presence and commitment to the community. Local businesses are essential to community development, and your customers care about their town and neighboring towns as much as you do. Position your business as a local institution to solidify this association in the hearts and minds of your consumers.

Protip: Don’t limit this mindset to  your newsletter, either. Getting involved in local events, charity drives and fundraisers can be a great way to give back, and get your business on people’s radar.

Create a Visually Engaging Experience

Sometimes the best way to show customers that you mean business is by showing off your fun side. Your emails shouldn’t feel like work to them. Keep the text as succinct as possible, and rely upon engaging images and videos to tell a story that will keep them interested and your business top of mind. You can include survey results from earlier emails you used for segmentation to show them trends, create short “how-to” or “tips and tricks” instructional videos, or include interesting quotes, facts or stats.

Better yet, get them involved in this process by asking them to submit their own photos of products or services they’ve gotten from your business and share these with your customers. People like to participate and feel included, and there’s no better way to convince them that yours is a two-way relationship. As we move into 2016, we expect to see the trend of more visuals and less text to continue. Stay ahead of the curve by adopting this valuable practice early.

Optimize for Mobile

Heading into 2016, the trend towards mobile continues to march on. As people spend more time than ever on smart phones and devices, it’s vital to ensure your emails are designed with an emphasis on the mobile experience in mind. 91% of consumers check their email at least once per day on their smartphone, so it’s important to make sure that you’re providing them with the best experience possible. Before sending out any marketing emails, be sure to send out a tests. Check to make sure that it’s rendering correctly on both desktop and mobile. And while you’re at it, make sure the copy on your CTA is clear and action-based.

Spend a Little Extra Time on Your Subject Line Copy

Second only to the organization that is sending the email, subject line has been identified as the greatest influence on whether or not subscribers open an email in your inbox. With 47% of people saying subject line is one of the biggest determiners of open rate, it’s not something that should ever be written as an afterthought. While it’s often a fine line between conveying urgency and being too gimmicky, make sure that you craft a strong and descriptive subject line that will reel your customers in and get them to want to engage with your business on and offline.

Advertising or hinting at promotions is always a great way to get customers hooked, as is a reward/discount for the first 5, 10, 20, etc., people who respond back to the email. If you take this approach, you can also pose a question (i.e. what seasonal trend or feature they’re most excited about) that they must respond to in order to unlock or be eligible for the discount. This feedback will allow you to continue to segment your lists and learn more about consumer behavior and trends, overall.