If you really want to be successful in marketing your business or firm, you simply must develop and implement an email marketing strategy. Everyone uses email. Even the popular social networks and blogs rely on email. But you cannot just write an email and blast it out to everyone you have ever met. That is called spam or “spray-n-pray” and it can really make people angry.

Email marketing is flexible, free and traceable. A good email marketing strategy can be the most beneficial marketing tactic available to you. It can be used to build your brand, to alert customers and prospects of new product or service offerings, to follow up after people buy from you or subscribe to your newsletter and to build a relationship with your customers and prospects. According to a 2009 study by Unilever, email marketing doubles buying intention during a new product launch.

What is in an Email Marketing Strategy?

Your marketing strategy should answer all of the questions you and your customers or prospects would ask about why you are sending out emails.

— Purpose. What is the purpose of each email you send out? Your email marketing strategy should be very clear about the purpose of each email you send.

— Timing and Frequency. How often you send out emails to your customers and prospects is a critical part of your email marketing strategy. How often does your strategy indicate you should contact your various list segments?

— List Segment. Because the goal of the strategy is to make each email sent relevant to the receiver, you will need to be very specific about who will receive each email. In fact, you will probably want to send several versions of an email to different segments of your mailing list.

— What. What is your message? A good email marketing strategy will indicate that this should be different in each email. Will you send news of your company? How often? Will you send information and links to new content available on your web site? Will you promote special events, like sales? Will you provide information about additional ways you can serve your clients?

For the most part, an email marketing strategy aims to sell products and services, provide information that moves readers closer to a purchasing decision, and follow up after the purchase is made to sell another product or service or to ensure that the customer is happy with the previous purchase. A good email marketing strategy will reflect the recent trends moving email from “mass marketing” to “mass personalization” of the message, the offer, and the interaction. An effective email marketing strategy also includes a measurement and analysis segment. You will want to measure the rate of response to your email messages and refine them for greater effectiveness. You will also learn more about how your customers want to interact with you.

Finally, your email marketing strategy must demonstrate respect for each person you email. Keep in mind that, according to John McKean (of the Center for Information Based Competition), 70% of our decision to buy is determined by how we are treated as people.

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