If email marketing is not part of your customer acquisition and retention strategy, you might be losing out.

Email is the most direct, affordable and engaging way to connect with your existing and potential customers. It is a more effective user acquisition channel than social media —40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined.

More than any other marketing method, email marketing enables you to bring prospective customers back to your site over and over again without incurring direct marketing cost.

A recent twitter poll by CB Insight showed that 64% of respondents think that email subscribers are more valuable to B2B businesses than any the numbers of social media followers

cbinsight twitter poll

So how can you take advantage of this channel? We outline seven things you can start doing now.

1. Start building your email list from day one

No one does email marketing without building a good email list. So you need to convince your prospective customers to give you their email address.

If you listen to a lot of online business founders, one thing they usually say is, “I wish I started building my email list earlier”. Don’t let that be you. Right from day one, your website should have a newsletter subscription form signposted by a clear call to action.

Amazon has built a massive e-commerce business on the back of direct access to customers via email offers on a regular basis.

Use proactive prompters to put your signup page in people’s faces.

What are proactive prompters?

You’ll notice that on some sites, after reading through a post, an email subscription CTA pops up. Here’s one example and here’s another (the pop-up comes up when you move to close the tab). You can install these proactive prompters or “exit-intent prompters” on your site using free software. Just don’t overdo it otherwise, you risk annoying your visitors.

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2. Convince your website visitors to give you their email address

This is perhaps the hardest thing to do.

Most people will not give you their email till you’ve offered them something significant in return. This, you can do with a clear promise of a great product, freebies or just keep them in suspense.

Everyone loves getting free stuff, especially if its beneficial for them. Now, if your free stuff is compelling, it will give your site visitors enough reason to give you their emails.

This is the most efficient way to grow your email list.

You could also run competitions. And the barrier to entry is, you guessed it – their email addresses.

The prize you’re giving away has to be unique, relevant and useful to your website visitors. For example, turn your best content into an ebook, a how-to video or an email course you can use as the freebie.

3. Choose an email marketing service

So you’ve built your email list. Now, what? Time to start blasting those emails. But hold up. What are you going to use? For whatever reason, do not use Gmail or Outlook. For one, they can’t track the effectiveness of your email marketing regarding opens and clicks. Secondly, there’s no way for recipients to unsubscribe from your email list. And this is important.

Bottomline, use dedicated email marketing services like MailChimp, Aweber, etc. . Find a robust list of those here.

4. Segment your list

People subscribe to your email list for different reasons. Some signed up because of a free package. Some for a discount package. Some are already regular customers but want to be kept in the loop about future offers. Some are yet to pay for any of your products/services.

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Your customers ain’t all the same. So you shouldn’t treat them with a one-size-fits-all message.

Segmenting your email-marketing lists make it easy to send people content they care about. Research from eMarketer shows that 39% of email marketers that practice list segmentation see better open rates; 28% see lower opt-out and unsubscribe rates; and 24% see better email deliverability, increased sales leads, and greater revenue.

Hubspot highlights 27 ways you can segment your email list.

5. Build trust by providing steady stream of useful content

Now that you know who you’re talking to, create content that speaks directly to them. There is no point having an email list if you are not going to be engaging with your users.

Once you have their emails, you can build trust by providing a steady stream of content – information or offers that are useful to your users.

The frequency of your emails depends on the product, who your customers are, and what message you are sending to them. At Starta, we send out weekly emails to highlight key resources, information or events we want to share with our subscribers. Whatever time you choose, the most important thing is to be consistent.

Avoid boring and impersonal sales-y emails that only flashes big banner of discounts. Users may tune off and engage less with your email if they think it’s just another advert. If you want to be sending out weekly discount, take a leaf from the Eat24’s playbook. They produce a very engaging and hilarious weekly email newsletter that people love to open.

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They key thing here is to write emails that people want to read.

6. Be clear about the call-to-action in your newsletter

The ultimate purpose of your newsletter is to get people to engage with your product. You need to make this obvious without resorting to aggressive sales tactics that put people off.

Craft your message in a story. Everyone loves to read a story. Tell them something they don’t know. Highlight a problem they have and show them how your product can fix that.

A sticky widget ensures you’re not wasting real estate on your pages. The widget’s stickiness ensures that by the time a reader gets to the end of your post, the call to action is right there waiting for him/her to follow through.

7. Continue testing your methods

Test different versions of your headlines. Test different ways of writing and placing your call to action. When you test something, note what happened and find the means to improve upon it immediately. If you continuously measure and improve upon things as you move forward, you’ll make your email marketing campaign that much more successful

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Starta is making it easier to build, discover and track high growth business opportunities in Africa. We believe that billion dollar companies will emerge out of Africa built by Africans. Our mission is to help entrepreneurs that will make this happen. Sign up to join.

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