With the right understanding of email marketing, you can cost-effectively nurture prospects, deepen relationships with prospects and close more sales. And kick ass.

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Social media marketing maven Jay Baer likes to compare email marketing and social media to Madonna and Lady Gaga. Social media is the hot new thing, more like Lady Gaga. Email marketing and Madonna, on the other hand, have been around a while and are not considered quite as sexy.

However, while email marketing may have taken a back seat to social media in the popularity contest, it remains one of the most effective marketing tactics when used properly. (And in a Celebrity Death Match between Lady Gaga and Madonna, our money would be on Madonna.)

But to really kick ass with email marketing, you should be mindful of these seven things:

  1. Email marketing is one of the most underrated and effective marketing tactics. Unlike social media which may or may not be seen by your intended recipients, email will be there when the recipient is ready to consume it.

  2. NEVER buy a list of email addresses. Email works best when it is sent to people who have opted in to receive your message. There are no shortcuts – for email to work you need to build a valid list of people who have raised their hands and given you permission to communicate with them. Buying a list does not accomplish this. Even worse, spamming is against the law and can tarnish the reputation of your IP address, thus hindering your ability to send any email.

  3. Email lists erode at least 25% per year. Reasons include unsubscribes, job changes, etc. The name of the game with email marketing is to stay ahead of this fact and take every opportunity to capture email addresses from people who will want to hear from you. But you won’t get email addresses if you don’t ask for them. If you’re reading this on your desktop computer, you’ll see a few places inviting you to subscribe to our email newsletter (hint, hint).

  4. Segment your list. Unless you have just one buyer persona, you’ll want to segment your list by the recipients’ main area of interest. The more that you can communicate with the recipient with greater focus, the better. Additionally, let the recipient indicate how often they’d like to hear from you and what type of email they’d like to receive (new blog content, newsletter, product news, company news, etc).

  5. Send good stuff. Don’t take this the wrong way, but your email recipients don’t really care about your company. They care about what your company can do for them. More specifically, they want content that will help them do their jobs better, solve their problems, help their career or entertain them. When developing email marketing content ask yourself this question: “Would the recipient pay me for this information?” If the answer is no, rethink what you’re sending.

  6. Plan for mobile first. By 2014, mobile internet usage will overtake desktop internet usage. If you plan your email marketing for the mobile user, the desktop user will be fine. (By the way, if you don’t have a mobile version of your website, now is the time to get one.)

  7. People forget that they opt in to your email list. So, make sure to email with enough frequency so that people will not forget who you are. Results vary, but at least once a month is a good rule of thumb. Also, when someone opts in to your email list, send them an automated email right away to start the process, make sure your email doesn’t go into their spam folder, and to get them accustomed to receiving email from you right away.

For a thorough review of email marketing best practices, click here to download Silverpop’s free 148-page ebook “Almost Everything You Wanted to Know About Email Marketing.” (Registration required.)

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