I come across many clients who have an email list, but have no set strategy for what is being mailed when or by whom. Often times we end up managing those lists for our clients, and implementing some basic strategies that make for a much more responsive mailing list, and in turn effective marketing and a greater return on investment.

Forbes published a great article that hits on the basics, so I thought I would summarize the most important ones for you with a bit of additional information.

1. Make it easy to subscribe. This is perhaps the most crucial element. If your form has 10 fields many people who are actually interested in your business may find it to be too much of a hassle and simple leave without signing up. Keep your form simple and minimize data required to sign up.

2. Tell subscribers what to expect. This is the only way a consumer can determine whether it will be worth their time to subscribe. Give them some insight into the benefits of being on your list.

3. Send a welcome email. Let your subscribers know that you appreciate them entrusting their email address to you, and give them a preview of upcoming information or promotions.

3. Design your newsletter to fit your brand. There are hundreds of resources for email newsletter templates available on the web. Select one that matches the look and feel of you site and your business. A highly industrial looking email may not be a good fit or a neighborhood restaurant. The email design and site should tie together closely enough so that your subscriber readily recognizes it as being from you.

4. Make it scannable. If you are creating a newsletter style piece, be sure to use short snippets with a link to read more. With a promotional piece, make sure the benefit or call to action is clearly visible. Your subscribers will be more likely to engage if they can very quickly tell what you are presenting them with.

5. Send people content they want. Be sure you know what your subscribers are interested in. A limited amount of simple checkboxes in your signup form allowing your subscriber to select interests will go a long way here.

6. Keep a publishing calendar. Create a simple schedule for your mailings to ensure you know what was sent previously, and what is coming up next so you can tease upcoming content. A calendar also helps keep you consistent, and forces some level of evaluation of the content you will be preparing.

7. Edit. There is nothing worse than losing subscribers due to grammatical errors and poorly written copy. Use a word processing program to spell check, and then perhaps have a co-worker or friend read it before you send it out.

8. Test and Measure. There are numerous popular email clients all with their own set of rules for how email will display. Add online email viewers such as Gmail and Yahoo, and you have quite a few platforms where you want your email to be readable. Create email accounts in the major engines and test the email to yourself before you send it out.

9. Think about mobile. Studies suggest that over 60% of Americans would either close or delete an email they cannot read on a mobile device. Be sure that your email is legible on multiple platforms. Here is an article with links to some mobile testing tools http://goo.gl/hV1pt

10. Know your spam rules. This is one that is often overlooked to the detriment of list quality. While it may seem reasonable to add people who have ordered from you in the past or attended a trade show event to your regular mailing list, you may end up at best creating an unresponsive list, and at worst generating spam complaints. Be sure that the people you are adding to your email list specifically giving you permission to contact them over time. This will lower the chance that you will get spam complaints and allow you to better engage your mailing list.

To read the article in its entirety click here.