These days, when brands are having trouble reaching even a fraction of their fans on Facebook, it’s more important than ever to own your marketing channels. Building an email marketing list is the key step for regaining control of your marketing efforts.

Email marketing is an ideal way to establish an ongoing connection to your customer base, building brand loyalty. Here are some tips for waging a successful email marketing campaign:

Build an email list

You can’t start an email campaign if you don’t have anyone to send your messages to. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to create an email list when you already have a customer base: Simply ask your existing customers to sign up for your list, leaving a sign-up sheet next to the register if you have a retail store. Include an email sign-up box on every page of your website, and consider adding a pop-up box to encourage even more sign-ups: Mike Stelzner of Social Media Explorer attributes almost 70 percent of his mailing list growth to the site’s pop-up opt-in form.

Running a special offer for people who sign up, such as a 10% off coupon or a sweepstakes giveaway, will also incentivize more customers to join your mailing list—you can also promote your giveaway through paid ad campaigns to expand your reach.

Choose an email service provider

It’s bad business to simply send out mass emails, and you’re likely to have your messages flagged as spam. Instead, choose a reputable email newsletter provider, which will allow you to manage your email lists for an affordable cost (typically anywhere from free to several hundred dollars a month, depending on the size of your contact list). These services allow you to create customized template designs, let you track who is opening your email and clicking on links, and simplify the list management process. Additionally, large service providers are generally white-listed by most email programs, which means that your email is more likely to make it past spam filters than if you sent the message through your own email program.

Look at reviews of email newsletter providers and ask fellow business owners for their own recommendations to find the right one for your small business.

Craft a clear call to action

When it comes time to send out your first email newsletter, make sure that your message is clear and concise: Your customers have short attention spans, and are likely to unsubscribe from your mailing list if they don’t feel that your message is valuable to them. Make sure that the subject line clearly summarizes the message contents in 50 characters or less (i.e. “20% off all running shoes this week”), and include a short call-to-action written in clear language describing your special promotion or recent news. Include a prominent link to your website, where customers can receive the special promotion or learn more about your products.

Design is important as well: Your newsletter template should incorporate your company logo and serve as a tasteful representation of your brand. You may consider hiring a freelance designer to craft a custom newsletter template.

When it comes to frequency, be careful not to go overboard, or you’ll likely irritate your customers: Limit your emails to one per week, unless your customers have specifically requested more frequent promotions.

Track your success—and optimize for perfection

Email marketing programs allow their users to track factors such as new subscribers, links clicked, unsubscribe rates, and open rates. Several days after sending out your newsletter, look through your statistics to see how they compare to your industry standard, and try to determine what you might do to improve your campaign’s success rate. For instance, if you see that the Beauty and Personal Care industry has a typical open rate of nearly 15%, but just 10% of your salon customers opened your email, you may need to focus on making your subject line more enticing the next time you send an email.

Email marketing is full of trial and error, but by paying close attention to what your audience wants, you’ll learn the skills to quickly grow your list—and your customer base.

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