Social media may be all the rage, but recent studies suggest only 1% of all transactions originate from social media. So if your marketing could use an extra push, it may be time to revisit good old email marketing. For many people, email is still their main means of business communication.
In addition, marketing experts tell us email newsletters are one of the best ways to stay in contact with clients and prospects and a great tool for both generating and converting leads. But to make sure your emails perform to the utmost, here are 12 keys to creating exceptional email campaigns.

1. Get permission. Always ask people to opt in. Make it easy to sign up — and easy to opt out, with an opt out link at the end of every email. After 12 months, ask subscribers if they want to continue.

2. Keep the frequency reasonable. Once a week is probably about right. If you have a great idea for a daily email, great. Just let recipients know up front that you’ll be sending them something every day, then let them opt in. And once you decide on a schedule, stick to it. Experts say you should reach out to your readers at least twice a month.

3. Respect people’s privacy. Put a short, simple email privacy statement on your opt-in form and link it to a full privacy statement on your web site.

4. Design for deliverability. Put your company name in the “from” line. Make the “subject” line a real grabber — 50 characters or less. Use attention-getting text and colors, rather than images, so the reader can get a good idea of your email even if images are disabled. Put the offer, call to action, newsletter contents — the important information — at the top of the email.

5. Check to see that it’s all getting through. Send a sample email to an account on each of the major email providers — AOL, Earthlink, Gmail, and Yahoo! Check out how your format looks in Outlook. Again, avoid images in the header and make sure all the response links work.

6. Test. Refine your efforts for better results by testing different subject lines, offers, deployment dates and times, and different segments of your list. Testing is also a great way to come up with new ideas.

7. Define your value proposition. Give your subscribers a good reason to open your emails. Focus on your unique value proposition. Concentrate on how your information or offer will directly benefit the recipient.

8. Segment your list. If you can come up with targeted messages for different parts of your list, you’ll usually get better response and conversion rates.

9. Personalize if you can. This isn’t just putting their name at the top. It’s about creating content that addresses the recipient’s specific interests, needs, and behaviors. You don’t always have this information and it takes more work to personalize the content, but it can be very effective to deliver a very targeted message that hits all of the prospect’s hot buttons.

10. Get mobile, get social. In today’s wireless environment, emails are frequently viewed on mobile devices. So check to see how your emails appear on the popular smart phones. And don’t forget to leverage your social media presence by using it to invite opt-ins to your email offerings.

11. Survey your readers. To make sure you continue to deliver value, survey recipients every so often to find out their needs and interests. Then make adjustments to stay in touch with what your subscribers are looking for.

12. Stand out from the crowd. People will look forward to hearing from you if you always have something valuable to say. Keep the information concise and useful. Send “alerts” with news that engages the recipient. The “secret” to exceptional email campaigns is always great content!

For a new way to jump start your business, try good old email marketing. Follow these simple rules, stick with it, and you may very well get exceptional results…. Have a great month!