"By providing useful content in your area of expertise, customers will be more interested in opening your emails, driving more views to your website or social media profiles," says Cates. Moreover, "when you combine this with providing links to your social media platforms, you are also giving your customers a chance to interact and respond with you on those subjects, increasing engagement and keeping your brand top of mind."
5. Move away from mass mailings to segmented, targeted marketing. "[In 2013,]we'll see more brands abandon the one-message-for-one-audience approach to email in favor of smaller, behavior-based sends," predicts Suzanne Norman, brand strategist, Emma.
"Social media has shown us the value of personal relationships with customers, and with smart segmentation, email marketing delivers that all-important relevant, personal content on a larger scale," she says. Her advice: "explore more targeted welcome notes, shopping cart abandonment promotions and lifecycle messaging--and see the higher response rates that go with them."
Similarly, Cates suggests marketers collect customer data beyond basic contact information. "By collecting customers' interests, marketers can segment their lists and deliver content that is much more engaging, relevant and personalized to each recipient."
6. Don't restrict your email signup form to your home page. "Email signup forms are typically relegated to a site's footer--or forgotten altogether," says Norman. But that strategy won't get you many new customers anymore.
"Marketers [need to get] bolder when it comes to asking for email addresses," she says. Think about adding pop-up email signups on landing pages, as well as placing email signup forms (or links to them) on Facebook and YouTube. And use tablets at trade shows or events to gather contact info at your booth.
7. Don't underestimate the value of permissions marketing. "In 2013, if you don't get permission to be one of the select companies to contact a customer, your marketing efforts will go nowhere, as tolerance for the uninvited is reaching absolute zero," says Cates.
"Once you have permission, guard it carefully," Cates says."Be sure your recipients immediately recognize emails coming from you. Provide them with the content they want, and, by all means, don't abuse the privilege."
Jennifer Lonoff Schiff is a contributor to CIO.com and runs a marketing communications firm focused on helping organizations better interact with their customers, employees and partners.
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