Email can be a fantastic tool to reach new potential customers and connect with past customers. That being said, simply blasting a series of self-promotional emails won’t do the trick. Here are ten tips to help you improve your email marketing.

1. Start With Great Software. These days, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to email marketing providers. Companies like MailChimp, Silverpop, Constant Contact, and MyEmma all offer you the ability to customize professional looking templates for your needs, as well as socially share your newsletter. They’re all priced for small business budgets too.

2. Segment Your List. If you have different types of customers (maybe some are men buying gifts for their wives, while other customers are women shopping for themselves), you should have a different marketing message for each group. Segment your contact list based on where a customer falls so you can deliver a more effective and more targeted message.

3. Make It Easy to Sign Up. You should have an email subscription form on your blog and website to make it dead simple for people to get your emails. Give them incentive to do so, by offering a special report or coupon code for signing up.

4. Deliver Value. I always recommend sending one company newsletter and one promotion email each month. That way you don’t bombard subscribers with sale emails. Focus on providing useful content in the newsletter. Look to your blog for inspiration.

5. Consider the Timing. If you know your customers read their emails in the evening after work, schedule your emails to go live then. People are more likely to open an email that arrives while they’re in front of their desks, so sending them during work hours might cause you to miss out on opportunity to connect.

6. Add a Social Component. Most email marketing providers allow you to automatically tweet or share your newsletters on Facebook. Take advantage of this, since it can mean more subscribers.

7. Never Add Without Permission. Always, always get permission from someone before adding them to your list. If you automatically subscribe new customers to your list, make sure you say you’ll do that during the signup process.

8. Make it Easy to Unsubscribe. While you’d love for all your email list to stay subscribed, some people will want to leave. Make it hassle-free by include a (working) unsubscribe button in every email.

9. Pay Attention to Your Bounces. When an email doesn’t reach someone, either due to a full inbox or because he no longer has that email, you get what’s called a bounce. Make sure to clean your list regularly to remove these as well as make sure no one is reporting your emails as spam.

10. Work on Your Clickthrough Rate. Whenever someone clicks on a link in your email, this contributes to the rate of total people who got the email who also clicked. You want this to be as high as possible, so include a well-described text with a link that subscribers will want to visit. Pay attention to which links more people clicked on so you can include it in future emails.

Used effectively, email can help you increase sales and repeat business!

Whether you’re just starting a business or have been running a business for a while, make sure you’re legally protected by filing the appropriate business structure. can help.