Email is a tried and true tool that often gets the least fanfare around shinier tools like social media, but it is such a dependable and reliable tool in your marketing arsenal that you owe it to yourself to keep your email skills fresh and fabulous.

It is easy to think that after decades of using email that you need not polish your skills. However, this mindset will quickly erode your value as a marketer. As we proceed into the latter half of the year and deeper into our 12-month primer on developing your marketing know-how, I want to focus on ways to improve your email marketing skill set and encourage you to keep developing the tools of your trade.

1. Use cutting-edge lead generation tools.

If you’ve visited a website recently, you’ve probably seen a friendly little pop-up box that diplomatically asks if you’d like to sign up for the website’s newsletter. Scroll Box by SumoMe offers a sweet service that allows you to customize the where, when, and how you can make the same offer to your website visitors.

2. Extend offers like free whitepapers, ebooks, or discounts.

Sweeten the deal by providing extra content or rebates to entice visitors to sign up for your newsletter. It may seem like a quid pro quo offer that bribes your visitors or encourages people to sign up for the deal and then abandon your email list but have confidence that your high-quality newsletter will persuade your audience to remain with you.

3. Have a call to action

Once you have your editorial calendar arranged, you might believe that you have to send out your newsletter on a rigid schedule. However, if you find yourself desperately seeking a topic for your scheduled newsletter and encountering nothing, give yourself a short break. It is important that each communication has a clear call to action or else you dilute your line of communication. Email is a direct line to your audience, so respect it.

4. Use entertaining or unexpected subject lines.

Think of each subject line as an invitation. You want to intrigue your audience and create an impetus to open your email. Each of us faces an onslaught of email, so your email marketing needs to stand out. Focus on pleasing your audience rather than tricking them. If you get too spammy or clickbait-y, you damage your audience’s trust.

5. Acknowledge milestones or anniversaries.

Think about how good it feels to get a birthday or other celebratory card. You can employ those good feelings to strengthen your connection with your audience. With all the great personalization tools out there, you can thank your subscribers for their longevity and devotion in meaningful and positive ways.

6. Use link roundups to extend readership.

When you see a trend building that is highly relevant to your audience, share that information in your newsletter or dig deep into your archives to uncover and connect relevant content. If there is another writer with whom you share an affinity, you may be able to partner with them and share some of their content with your audience. As an example, both Jason Kottke and Dave Pell often syndicate each other’s content.

7. Provide exclusive deals.

Your newsletter readers are giving you the gift of their time and attention, so reward that dedication with unique rewards such as early alerts on sales, previews of new products, early-bird discounts on services, or other special offers. There are many ways to build audience devotion and rewarding your devotees deepens brand loyalty.

8. Integrate social.

Remember to consolidate social media into your email marketing with the use of social sharing buttons. Make it easy for your readers to share your newsletter on Facebook or Twitter or even LinkedIn. You can even boost your email marketing on social media by reminding your followers that they can sign up for your newsletter. When you make it easy for your community to share the nuggets of gold from your bulletin, you encourage the organic growth of your audience.