Effective email marketing strategies can be hard to execute.  And being a great email marketer – that is, someone who writes emails that actually get opened and read – requires a precise combination of skills.

To be effective as an email marketing strategist, you need to be a big picture thinker. You need to be able to develop a long-term strategy with an end goal in mind.  To create this strategy, and have people do what you want them to do (click where you want them to click),  you have to know some human psychology basics. You also need to be an expert in the techniques of master salesmanship. This requires knowing what your audience wants.  You also need to know how to deliver your sales message clearly and effectively.

When all these skills come together, your emails will get opened. That equates to money for your business.

Here are 7 fundamental email marketing strategies that the email marketing gurus use:

1) Segment your list of contacts. Categorize your  subscribers based on the information you’ll be sending them.It should speak to what the group wants or cares about.

Let’s say you sell pet products for small and large dogs, offering giant dog bones to the owner of Fluffy the teacup poodle is a waste of time.  Fluffy’s owner is never going to buy a large dog bone (unless they have a second bigger dog).

You also want to segment the people who have purchased from you from the people who haven’t. You should be sending them different messages. If someone buys from you, they are much more likely to buy again, so you can be a little more aggressive, but not at the expense of offering valuable content. The underlying message  for existing customers is “keep buying” and  for potential buyers it’s “trust me”. That has to be done subtly and as a subtext in all your emails.

2) Build a quality list, not a quantity list. You want people to want to be on your list. Think of it this way: If you are on Facebook and have 400 friends, how many of them do you actually consider close enough to invite to your wedding? Probably only a few dozen and really only a handful really matter to you and have a vested interested in you. When it comes to email marketing you want the “wedding guest” type of contact. The reliable people who care about you or your brand. Who cares if you have 50, 000 contacts if only 50 will actually buy from you. It’s not worth your time sending to the rest of them. They won’t be engaged by your content. They may not even open your emails and then your emails may get labelled as spam (which you don’t want, of course).

3) Find out what your subscribers want. Use surveys and feedback forms to engage with your audience periodically and find out what they want. Use the information you get to respond directly to their issues or to send them information and offers that fall in line with what they want.  The more you know, the less you have to guess.

Back to the dog product analogy, if you know that Fluffy’s owner has an obsession dressing Fluffy up in cute dog sweaters, you can send her dog sweater dressing tips and over time promos for a dog wardrobe.

 4) Be a source of valuable information. Give away great stuff often. Do it for free. Teach people what they want to learn. Share secrets. This makes you a valuable resource and one that can be trusted. People start to see your emails as must open emails.

Ever wonder why people love Oprah?  She’s a source of valuable content that helps her fans live better lives.  People want to be on her email list. Aspire to become the Oprah of the email world.

5) Don’t hard sell. People don’t like being sold to unless they think it’s their idea to buy. Don’t be pushy. Get them to arrive at the choice to buy on their own.  Build trust by following Tactic #4 on this list. When people trust you, like you and like the stuff you give them they find you valuable and they will want to buy what you offer.

And, this doesn’t mean you never ask them to buy.  Go ahead, ask them.  Create the opportunity. But make sure they trust you first and they find value in what you give them.

6)Be strategic with your headlines.The subject line is the first thing that gets read in and email.  Write a good headline for it. It has people open your email and read it. Here are some headline strategies:

  • Be weird – People are curious and can’t help themselves to find out what the heck you are talking about “Can you believe a one-legged dancer taught me this?”
  • Blend in – Make your emails seem like run of the mill emails so they get opened. You message shouldn’t appear like a marketing email: Use subject lines like: “Quick question”, “Need your help”, etc.
  • Challenge them – Make them thing and trigger their curiosity. “5 Fitness serious mistakes you are probably making”; “5 little know dog training secrets”.

7) Use a smart CRM. Smart CRM systems, like Infusionsoft, allow you to track the actions of your contacts so you know what they are doing at all times. That information is GOLD! It costs a bit of money but it’s worth it.  Don’t cheap out with low cost tools.