Email marketing is an inexpensive and environmentally friendly way to build a relationship with your customers and generate a response. You save on printing and postage costs, and emails are easy to track. Embedded links also drive traffic to your site. Here are some tips for embarking on your first email marketing campaign:

Make a plan
Outline your goals. Ask yourself — what is the overall purpose of this and any future email marketing campaigns? What do you hope to achieve from this specific campaign? Think about how often you are going to send out emails and how much you have budgeted for email marketing. Research email marketing software and see what best suits your needs. Certain software is better, based on how many emails you plan on sending and to whom you will send them. With the software, you can determine what name appears on the “from” line in the recipient’s inbox.

Create the email list
There are a few ways to gather your email list. You can purchase a list through a third-party email broker. You can also contact people who have already purchased your product or used your service. It is important to encourage prospective customers to sign up for your email list or newsletter. You can offer a special deal that is only available if customers sign up to your email list. Another strategy is to offer incentives, like an e-book or a chance to win a prize, to those who sign up. Once you have your email list, you can put people into groups to target specific consumers or demographics.

Produce the content
Once you have everything set up, you need to decide exactly what is going into the emails. Will they be written with HTML or plain text? People get bombarded with email advertisements, so make sure yours stands out. Use correct spelling and grammar. Let the customer know exactly why they should want to take advantage of your deal or services. Catchy subject lines entice people to take a look at your email. Include your company logo or graphic, which adds a sense of professionalism and legitimacy to the emails.

Track and adapt
Social media is a great way to spread the word about your email marketing campaign. Prominently display it on your Facebook page. Tweet the link every now and then. Include it in your email signature. Once you have launched your first email campaign, study what worked and what didn’t. Track which emails generated the most traffic, and see if there is a demographic that would benefit from more attention.

Know the rules
The CAN-SPAM Act applies to all commercial messages. The law requires that the sender identify that the message is an ad; use truthful header information and subject lines; provide the recipient with your physical postal address; and let them know how to unsubscribe from your emails. For more information about CAN-SPAM, consult The Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection. The U.S. Small Business Administration also has a comprehensive section on online advertising law.