Email Marketing – 5 Steps to Make Your Email Marketing More Effective

Your emails reflect YOU or, at least they should



I am often surprised by how completely charming a retailer or a small business owner can be in person only to discover their email newsletters have the personality of a face mask.  Stiff, generic and hard to like.

Often the emails are simply boring.  One wonders why they bothered.  Worse, there is absolutely no personalized message contained in the email…just a bunch of links to other sites.  No calls to action.  No original content.  Just a regurgitation of stuff.

It’s as if the business owner is hiding behind their counter, afraid to say “Hello” and let their email audience really see how charming they can be, how charming they are.

If you want to maximize your email marketing efforts, you need to take some steps to get them to stand out.  I’m not just talking about an enticing subject line or a great headline.  I’m talking about the essence of you and the personality of your business.  You need to step out from behind the mask.  How?

5 Steps To Make Your Email Marketing More Effective

Here are five simple steps you can take to punch up your email communications and give it a personal touch. To create a personal bond…one has to get… personal. Let them get to feel as if they “know” you.

1.  Be yourself – Email marketing is not the time to by shy.  Offer a personalize message rather than the canned version.  Use their first name in your communications.  Use a photo of you.  Spice up your email message with your own words and flair…just as if they were walking into your store or you were meeting them for the first time, because that is what is happening.  It’s just happening virtually. Be certain to suggest they give you a call or email you directly if they have any questions, because you are there to serve.  Right?

2.  Use your own photos – Don’t use stock photos you found on the Internet.  Use photos of your people, of a satisfied customers, of you, of your business full with satisfied customers, of your new products, of your cat or dog mascot, of a cute dog one of your customers, of your recent vacation, etc.  You get the idea.  Be personable and they will respond in kind.

3.  Be original – Ask yourself what you can offer your email subscribers others can’t?  Is it your original point of view?  Your expertise in your industry? Expressing an original opinion is a good thing.  As always you want to stay clear of controversial topics like politics, but there is nothing wrong with you starting a conversation around an original point of view.  Try it in your next email newsletter.

4.  Say Thank you – As another extension of what you’d do in person, don’t hesitate to thank your email subscribers for listening, for taking time to read and act.  Recognition of someone’s good acts never goes out of style.

5.  Repeat 1 through 4 – Stay with it.  Don’t assume the first time you do any of these steps you’ll receive immediate feedback.  You won’t.  Just stay with your program.  Wrap your emails in TLC and you’ll see rewards in your business.

How else might you add some spark to your email marketing efforts? Share below in the comments section.

You might also be interested in reading a few other posts about email marketing.

Has Become Email Passe`?

5 Steps To Make Your Email List Hum


Email Marketing: Best Practices

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Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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  1. Sheila,
    I think all too often many small business owners approach this tactically. Almost anyone will say to them “you really need to do a newsletter” so out of a sense of obligation or duty or both something like you describe in your post is sent out.

    Hopefully many will heed your very sound advice.

    • Thanks for your comment, Joseph. I also think when it comes to writing, business owners forget to be themselves…they think they have to be “business-y” and not natural. Which is such a shame as it is the “natural” approach that works best online.

  2. Great Post Sheila, I think most of the time business will “over-think” the logistics of email marketing. It’s nice to see how you bring it back to basics; Take the 5 Steps and Rinse & Repeat.

    Following this will go a long way!

  3. Shelia, Some good basic steps here. What irks me are those e-mails that you stated with an enticing subject line or a great headline, yet the body of the e-mail is bland, boring, or not on point with their crafty headline. I have also found some that send out newletters in which the content is not theirs, but bought & paid for. Very sad… Again, some good basic pointers in this article.

    • Jeff… agreed. Such headlines are deceptive. I’m not certain how one buys email content. But given that email communications are delivered to the very people who have given you permission to email them, one should feel comfortable sharing their own content and personality with this audience. One’s email audience is far more important to one’s business than the faceless hundreds or thousands on Twitter or Facebook.

  4. Fantastic points as usual. I think it’s important that anything published online not be written in some authoritarian, preachy voice. Any writing, but especially online writing, should be written more as a personal letter than a memo.

    Your blog posts and emails are being read by a single person, not by giant groups of people. Writing for the masses isn’t all that effective. Instead, writing for a single person using the same tone you would while talking face-to-face is going to drive results.

    Great post!

  5. I hate when people think they have to be formal and stuffy- that does not translate to professional. And email marketing is not about bombarding people with what you want them to buy, it’s about relationship building and adding REAL value! Great post! I am passionate about email marketing!

    • Angela, many thanks for your comments. You are so right… any online marketing…perhaps more so with email marketing…is all about relationships and value. Those are key.

      I don’t think people “think” they have to be stuffy. I think many are just not comfortable with using email and other social media tools to converse. Their fallback position is to be more formal than they would in person. They just need some time to evolve in their email and social media communication and feel more comfortable.

  6. As marketing manager of a small IT company, I’m feeling a lot of pressure from Social Media Management companies that want to take over all our writing – from newsletters to blogs to social media posts. But my gut says to resist. We’ve worked hard to create a brand that says “we are personable” and having someone else doing our writing and messaging just seems to run counter to who we are.

    • Jean: Keep resisting. With your tag line…client’s think our staff is part of their team…you do have to stay personable. No outside vendor is going to be able to communicate that personable touch the way an insider can or the way one skilled writer can. When a company develops its unique voice…it needs to keep it going strong. Congratulations for following your gut.

    • That is so sweet, Michele. My writing has improved over the years…but it has taken a lot of practice…and has room for more improvement. Just ask my hubby, the copywriter.

      It is an interesting point that you raise…too much personality. That isn’t most people’s problem when it comes to writing, but I can see where it might be for some people. This could be challenging, but it is always about the choice of words. I think one can express their enthusiasm and personality without being viewed as unprofessional. One doesn’t want to come off as Tom Cruise on Ophra’s sofa, but one can dial it back about 40 degrees and still be friendly and professional. Another trick might be to find someone whose writing style you view as the ideal of combination of professional and friendly and try to mirror that style. Perhaps others have suggestions as well.

  7. Sheila,
    Great topic and so pertinent for us. We’d been sending out newsletters for a couple years, and added a new one this year for our “trade” customers. Never had any responses to it, never heard back anything good or bad.

    I love to write and had just put myself into the frame of mind that I had to be “professional” and “educational” and what that ended up being is boring.

    So we started fresh and our first newsletter was titled “We’re Sorry Our Blog Was So Boring”. At least a dozen people wrote to say how much they’d enjoyed it. Yippee! We’ve continued on over the past few months, integrating the educational, but also fully representing who we are people and as a business, and I’m really thankful that we did. Because it’s so much easier to speak and write from the heart!

    • Jana: Many thanks for sharing your story. The silence can give one the wrong impression, but the fact you were bold enough to state your feelings about your newsletter is such a great lesson. I think it is too easy to forget that the written word doesn’t mean it has to be the “stuffy” word. And some perfectly charming folks in person resist communicating that charm in writing.

      I’m so happy you had such positive feedback and are finding the process more beneficial and easier. Look forward to hearing from you again.

  8. Great points. As designers and brand specialists we really see how the “templates” that are out there undermine a client being able to be original and themselves. That’s actually why we started our custom e-newsletter design service. We need small business owners to reclaim their voices!

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