10 Email Marketing Ideas

So, as you prepare for another year of email marketing, what do you want to do better or differently? How will you increase your effectiveness so you can look back and say "2008 was a great year for my email marketing efforts"? Here are 10 ideas you can draw from to make your email marketing program better than ever.

1. Develop a communications calendar - This year, plan ahead. Sit down with a calendar each quarter and look at everything you have coming up. Think through what your goals are and how you want to market your products, events, or organization with email and the other communication tools available to you.

2. Create your emails early - Are certain times of the year busier for you than others? When you have so much going on, it's hard to give the time and brain power needed for creating excellent marketing emails. A solution is to create some of these emails during a slower time in your year. If you have your plan in place, you know what you have coming up. You can even set the day and time your emails will go out, so you don't have to give them a second thought.

3. Freshen up your format and/or content - What are you doing to keep your email communications fresh? Take a step back and look at what you are sending. Brainstorm what creative new content you could add to make your newsletter more interesting. Need inspiration? Join some other email marketing lists in or out of your field and learn from what they are doing.

4. Give your emails a facelift - Have you been sending the same newsletter or promotions out for years? Why not change it up? Pick a new template or move content around a bit. Find some new images. Once you have a new look and feel, send an email out with the subject line Introducing our new newsletter! I'm willing to wager that you will have a higher open rate that month. People will read your email to see what's new, so make sure you make it worth their while (and continue to do so in the months to come).

5. Measure the impact of your efforts - Many of the email marketers I talk to swear by the power of email marketing-they know it's making a difference, but they aren't measuring its impact. Start a notebook or a spreadsheet that lists each of your email campaigns, how much time it took you to create them, the special offers or tactics you used, the cost associated, and the results the email got. This data will help you measure the return on your investment of time and money and monitor which tactics or special offers got the best responses.

6. Listen to your subscribers - Take every opportunity to learn from your subscribers. Give them ample chances to give you feedback by including a feedback email address and encouraging them to comment. Invite them to tell you what topics they want to hear about and what they like and dislike about your email communications. One of the best ways to get conclusive feedback is to conduct a survey. This information will help you know your audience and provide them with relevant content.

7. Segment your email list - This is for those of you who keep thinking "I've got to segment my list!" but have yet to do so. I know it takes some time and energy to do it, but you will find it's worth it. For example, separate customers/clients from prospective customers/clients and communicate with each separately. To make it easy for yourself as you move forward, set up categories on your sign up page so people can join the appropriate list (for example, prospective clients will select the "I want more information about your services" box).

8. Take personalization to a new level - It's likely that most of you include a personal salutation in your emails (if you don't, you can start there). Take it a step further by inserting additional contact details in your emails. It might be the name of the last product that person purchased, the last service you provided for them, or an event they recently attended. Marketing studies repeatedly show that emails that include more "personal" information are more successful.

9. Update your welcome email - This email is the first one that people receive once they subscribe to your list. It's your chance to showcase all of the great things you have in store for them. Make sure that it's branded in a way that reflects your business or organization, from how it looks (logo, colors, fonts) to your writing style. And make it personal with a name and a signature. Remember, this is your chance to make a first impression!

10. Expand your reach - Offer to guest write for a colleague's newsletter and invite him or her to do the same for yours. Pick someone who is an expert in an area your readers have an interest in, even if it's not related to your business. This will provide both you and your colleague with some fresh content and give you exposure to each other's list. A link to the sign-up form for your list is certainly in order!

by Amy Black Constant Contact - www.constantcontact.com