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We’ve all had that telltale sense of dread.

After spending days putting together an email detailing our newest offer (Brand new product! Never seen before! Will solve all your life problems, from varicose veins to a bad golf game!), we send the email out and wait for the responses to roll in.

Rather than roll in, however, they trickle in so slowly that a midday email from Grandma makes us sit up and take notice. (That is, until we realize Granny isn’t interested in our product, either – she just wants to know if we’re coming to dinner Sunday night.)

This sense of disappointment doesn’t have to be par for the course when you’re running email marketing campaigns. Rather than resolving yourself to lagging responses and sub-par returns on your investment, make it your goal to revitalize your campaign.

What Successful E-Marketers Do

Email marketing can come across as spam. (Shocking, no?) Successful campaigns begin with trust. The recipients of email marketing must recognize and welcome messages from the sender. Because of this inherent need for trust, strong e-marketers don’t rent or buy email lists. Nothing turns people off faster except, perhaps, Grandma’s meatloaf.

If you’re sending email via a third party, make sure their list is responsive. Are they following the Marketing Golden Rule to give as much as you take? Like any relationship, email marketing requires a balance. If you’re constantly trying to sell people through your emails, they’ll quickly tire of receiving them. Good e-marketers try to provide value as often as they sell. They provide real benefits – not just discounts on their stuff. Subscribers look forward to receiving their mailings because they offer tips, access to information, and other exclusive content for free.

Successful marketers act as if their emails are going to be read by actual humans. This means that their text is written in plain, natural language. Writing emails as if they’d go to a friend or a family member works better than trying to over-market. People see through the awkward verbiage of someone desperately trying to sell a product. But someone who’s writing so that even Grandma understands why this new-fangled contraption is interesting will entice more readers.

When writing, these marketers also pay close attention to their subject lines.

Like article headings, subject lines must grab the attention of the recipient. It’s the surest way to keep them from automatically deleting your message. How do you know what gets them intrigued? Target and tailor your campaigns. You can only knock on someone’s door so many times; when you do, make sure it’s worthwhile for both of you. Determine your ideal audience or target demographic, and build your campaign around them.

For example, my clients are eBook enthusiasts; when sponsors send emails to our client base, we suggest that they offer an eBook or an e-Guide in their campaign because that’s what our audience wants. It’s a win-win for our clients and our sponsors.

What Lackluster Campaigns Do

The least successful email campaigns are created without spam triggers in mind.

Email providers, including Gmail and Yahoo!, review each email before they direct them appropriately. Emails riddled with spam triggers – spam keywords, excessive links, and a low ratio of text to images – get siphoned into junk mail, or aren’t delivered at all. (Are you seeing why these are the least successful campaigns?) It’s impossible to get feedback if your emails are never read, so familiarize yourself with the most important spam triggers so you can make it past first base.

Similarly, bad email marketing doesn’t comply with CAN-SPAM regulations. Companies who fail to properly identify themselves or provide unsubscribe methods are quickly blacklisted. These aren’t optional details – these regulations are law. The only way to make your bad campaign worse is to get fined $16,000 by law enforcement for each email sent. Talk about a nightmare!

Finally, weak campaigns are never split tested. Split testing allows you to see which elements of your campaigns are most successful – or most disliked. Split tests quickly show marketers what’s stale about their existing campaigns, whether it’s their design, their copy, or their offer.

Several variations of split testing exist, so there’s no good excuse for e-marketers to not do it. If, somehow, your business is against split testing, at the very least you should be tracking your open rates, your click-through rates, and which links are getting the most hits. You can’t replicate success if you don’t know what was successful in the first place, but you can certainly fail over and over again by doing the same things.

By carefully considering your text, your approach, and your customers’ needs, you’re more likely to strike gold with your next email marketing campaign.

Keep your recipients’ perceptions in mind as you develop your campaign, and success shouldn’t be far behind. (Heck, maybe even Grandma will want what you’re selling.)