We’ve all got one (or more), and we use them on a daily basis. We’re not talking about smartphones, tablets, or even computers. We’re talking about email addresses. The vast majority of people in America, and around the world, have at least one email address. Email is used constantly throughout the day, every day, to contact co-workers, family members, and friends. This easy-to-use medium provides a direct link into the daily lives of individuals for marketers and advertisers.

According to the Radicati Group, there are 4.1 billion email accounts as of 2014, and that number is expected to grow to 5.2 billion by 2018. More importantly, email remains a relevant medium when it comes to lead generation. Circle Research found that 42% of businesses cite email as one of their most effective tools for lead generation, while a whopping 88% of B2B marketers cite email as the most effective tool for generating leads.

If your business is looking to launch its first email marketing campaign, we have a few helpful tips you’ll need to know. The following guide offers insight for beginners, as well as tips on how to make these strategies work.

Building an Email List

Generally speaking, we don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to build an email list. However, we have found that there are effective methods for building an email list and ineffective methods. Before you can start your email marketing campaign, you need a strong email list of current and potential customers to send your marketing and advertising materials out to in order to capitalize on their interest.

Targets of your email marketing campaign are going to have a lot of questions regarding your intentions with their email:

  • What do I get in return?
  • Will you send me spam?
  • How often will I get emails?

There are two successful tips we can offer to help you build an email list. First, entice people to sign up by offering them something. Provide a free copy of your catalog for those that sign up with an email address on your website, or offer a one-time discount for those who sign up with their email address.

Personalize Without Names

Cyber security, identity theft, and credit card fraud pose serious concerns these days; just ask Target and Home Depot. Personalized email greetings that start with your client’s names can actually serve as a turnoff. In a worst-case scenario, it can leave the reader feeling unsafe about their personal information (especially if they haven’t given you their full name). In a best case scenario, it feels like a forced connection with customers where none exists.

Instead of leading off emails with a personalized greeting, build a stronger relationship by including personalized ads in an email. Send out emails that include ads for products or services based upon the client’s previous interactions with your company.

Understand the Value of Subject Lines

Before your email recipients read a single line of text in your email, view the media inside, or click a link, they are going to read the subject line of the email. There are two approaches to subject lines that we recommend. The tactic you use depends on the goal of your particular email campaign.

There is evidence from research firm Adestra that subject lines with more than 70 characters have proven beneficial in engaging readers to click through your content. Additionally, Adestra found that subject lines with 10 characters or less, such as “Hey” or “Whoa,” generate open rates of 58%. The long and short of it is that customers are engaged by long, descriptive subjects and have their interest peeked enough to open an email by short subjects.

Know When to Send Emails

Your digital marketing employees are busy during the workday crafting your email marketing campaign, but that is not the time of day that your target audience is sitting around at home with nothing better to do than read their email. While we all check our email throughout the day, we only take enough time to skim our inbox from 9 to 5. A strong email strategy is to distribute materials to recipients on your list at night.

Experian Marketing Services found that the best window of time during the day for open rates was 8:00 p.m. to midnight. Not only are more people opening emails at this time, they are also taking the time to engage with your content. Why is that? The answer is simple: they have the time to do so. At night, your target audience is distracted by fewer things and more likely to be relaxed and browsing their inbox and the web.

Optimize for Mobile

Your consumers not only engage your content through email at night, they are doing it from mobile devices. Email marketing firm Litmus found that 47% of all email opens were done on mobile devices as of June 2013. There is no reasonable excuse for ignoring nearly half of your customers by failing to optimize your email campaign for mobile devices. Here are some tips we suggest to help you design your email for mobile devices:

  • Use a one-column template
  • Increase your font size for improved readability on smaller screens
  • Make your call to action obvious and create an easy-to-tap button
  • Keep elements viewers can tap in the middle of the screen and don’t bury them near the bottom.

Don’t Lose Your Email Focus

A lot of companies are swayed by the emerging power of social media advertising and marketing through platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. While these social networking sites have millions of users in the US and billions around the globe, email remains the king when it comes to converting current and new consumers. An 18-month study from SocialTwist monitored email and social media campaigns from 119 referral campaigns. Some 300,000 referrals became new customers, and 50.8% of those individuals were reached via email. Twitter generated 26.8% and Facebook added 22%.

The point is not to limit your campaign to email alone, but rather, to not give up on your email campaign once you get it up and running. Your digital marketing strategy should run through numerous channels, but email remains the king for now.