It’s likely that most people don’t delve into their inboxes expecting to be delighted by what they find there. So, if you can figure out how to that, you on your way to creating loyal customers who look forward to your messages (what a concept!).

Here are six ways to delight your customers:

1. Inspire them

“When you tap into what interests your customers and deliver targeted content to them on those topics, you become more than just another brand promoting a product. You add value,” writes Alek Mirkovich at Ecommerce University.

“That makes customers look forward to your emails and actually want to share your content with others in their social circles. And, with social media integration features built into many automated email tools, you can make it easy for your customers to share your content and expose your brand to a broader audience.”

But how do you find out exactly what kind of content your customers care about? Ask them! (See item #3 below).

2. Help them learn

You’re an expert in your industry and related topics. So why not share some of that knowledge with your valued customers? They are sure to appreciate it. “Educating your customers is a relatively straightforward concept but critical that you get it right,” writes Matthew Cook at SalesHub. “You need to simply supply customers with information that they will find valuable.”

According to Cook, educational emails are something of a rarity, which presents an opportunity that brands can capitalize on. “Very few companies, in any industry, are spending time educating their customers,” he writes. “By sending out frequent educational emails you will set your company apart from the competition.”

3. Ask them what they think

“Email marketing is a golden opportunity to interact with your customers on a personal level, and it also gives the opportunity to validate your customers by honestly asking for opinions and interactions,” writes Brooke Hazelgrove at More Business Online. “People like giving their opinion on things, so it’s not hard to ask for input.”

How? Solicit reviews, create polls and surveys, provide links to feedback forms and chat support, ask them in a cart-abandonment message why they didn’t make that purchase, engage with your customers on social media – do whatever it takes to ensure they know how much you value their opinion and want to hear it.

4. Don’t ask them to do anything

“Your customers deserve to be informed about product updates, security issues and changes to their account,” writes Jimmy Daly at unbounce. “Send them emails that deliver value without asking for anything in return.”

Daly cites as an example an email he received from Hover that simply informed him that the company had reset his password. The message did not include a pitch of any kind.

“There are so many ways to deliver utility in the inbox and updates like this are one of them,” he writes. “It feels more like correspondence than marketing, and your customers will appreciate it.”

5. Help them celebrate

Customers love receiving birthday messages from marketers. How do we know that? Because data!

“Birthday emails are one of the most effective emails you can send,” writes Kim Courvoisier at Campaign Monitor, citing stats indicating that compared to promotional emails, birthday messages have a 481-percent higher transaction rate, generate 342-percent higher revenue and a 179-percent higher unique click rate.

Of course, birthday emails are ideal opportunities to offer the celebrant something special in the way of savings.

“Birthdays are synonymous with gift giving, so give your subscribers something they can’t pass up,” writes Courvoisier. “Typically, birthday emails have a special deal, offer or free gift.”

You don’t have to wait for the big day to arrive to send the birthday message, according to Courvoisier. “About 38 percent of birthday emails are sent one to three weeks prior to the birthday. A growing trend is also sending an offer at the start of the subscriber’s birthday month to give them plenty of time to take action and to provide you plenty of time to send a few reminders.”

6. Make them feel like VIPs

A VIP is, of course, a “very important person” – and no one is more important to you than your customers. That’s why it’s critical to send them emails that ensure they know how you feel about them.

“You can make your subscribers feel like they’re getting VIP treatment by sending them exclusive deals, access to member-only content, and sneak peeks at upcoming products,” writes Springbot. “Remember to emphasize that these exclusive perks are reserved only for email subscribers. In your email copy, you can work this into your headlines with phrases such as ‘A Sale Just for You’ or ‘For VIP Members ONLY (Psst … That’s You!).’”