Over the past few decades, technology has providentially leveled the playing field for business owners with small budgets and narrow profit margins and who are in search of affordable marketing options to spread their brand’s message. The far-reaching — and inexpensive — arm of e-mail is a perfect example.  To date, it’s one of the simplest and most effective marketing tools available to anyone with a computer. If implemented correctly, a sharp and well-executed e-mail marketing campaign could be one of the keys to driving lead conversions for your business.

If you’re thinking about launching an e-mail marketing campaign for your business, take a look at the following tips for building a successful program before you actually pull the trigger.

1. Cultivating Your Subscriber List

When crafting your subscriber list, best place to start is with your current customers/web visitors. Encourage them to provide you with their e-mail address if they haven’t already.  Depending on the type of business you have, you may come into contact with your customers face-to-face as they visit your brick and mortar storefront, or, via web traffic as they visit your website. If coming into contact with them in-person, you’ll want to set up a display area where they can fill out a card and leave their address. Many business owners like to set this area up right near the cash register, exit/entrance way or bar. And remember, make this setup attractive!

On the other hand, if your customers are coming into contact with you on the web and you’re trying to convert those visitors into e-mail subscribers, you’ll want to design an eye-catching, noticeable sign-up form and place it prominently on your website somewhere above the fold. (Here’s more information on web usability best practices). Knowing where to capture their attention, though, is only half the battle. Be sure to tell them why they should subscribe for your e-mail updates. Understandably, most people are cautious about whom they give their e-mail address out to—nobody wants more junk mail. So explaining to prospective subscribers the value of subscribing will be paramount. What’s in it for them?

2. Crafting Your Message

Now that you’ve devoted some time to building your list of subscribers, the next task at hand is deciding what you want to say to them. They’re already expecting the usual alerts from your business about specials and promotions that you’re offering so now is the time to go that extra mile and give them something they’ll truly appreciate and are not expecting. One of my personal favorites to see is special giveaways that are offered exclusively to subscribers. Apple made some waves earlier this month when they offered a free copy of Snow Leopard exclusively to MobileMe customers and e-mail subscribers. Taking a page from Apple’s playbook, consider offering a simple one-time service or product to one subscriber every month or even quarterly so as to actively demonstrate the value of their subscription.  And don’t forget, the types of subject lines, the design and layout of the actual e-mail body and the tone of voice you write in says a lot as well. Simple, casual and friendly goes a long way. Sending cluttered, sloppy e-mails is a sure-fire way to get people to unsubscribe.

3. Managing Your Campaign

While these campaigns can be managed on your own, utilizing an email marketing service like Constant Contact or MailChimp is always a good idea. They can help you clean up your subscriber lists, design pretty templates, track subscriber behaviors and click-thru numbers, and more. Additionally, these services can help segment your subscriber lists out into targeted smaller lists that are constructed around customer demographics.

To learn more about demographic segmentation, take a look over here.

Photo Credit: iTechChrunch

About Natasha Khairullah

After a 7-year run in print media, Natasha joined DigitalSherpa in January of 2010 as one of the team’s original Online Content Managers for DesignSherpa. She now serves as one of Sherpa’s Creative Directors where she manages a team of writers and helps develop content strategies for a variety of small to medium-sized businesses. Natasha is a New Yorker transplanted to the Peach State by way of sunny Florida. In her free time, she can be found hanging out at a local farmers market or exploring the city of Atlanta.


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