Let’s face it. It’s getting harder and harder for an email to be an effective tool for a successful marketing campaign. Most of us do everything we can to keep the spam out of our inboxes, and some of us even have a “spam email account” that we give out to those we think might start sending us junk. But the fact remains that email IS still an effective tool as long as you’ve got your ducks in a row. Here are five must have’s for a successful email campaign:

1. VALUE EXCHANGE – First and foremost, you MUST ensure that you are offering something of value to your recipient. The recipient is exchanging their valuable information (name, email, etc.) for something that you are offering. If there is no value, it is simply spam. Value is added by offering free materials such as white papers, ebooks, and other information. Value can also be added by offering discounts, coupon codes, and giveaways. According to copyblogger.com’s ebook, Email Marketing: How to Push Send and Grow Your Business, 70% of us make use of a coupon or discount we learned about from email.

2. DOUBLE OPT IN & UNSUBSCRIBE – This may be as equally important as my first point. Sending email to a massive list of email addresses you just purchased is a big no no. You should ALWAYS make sure your email is 100% solicited. Sending unsolicited mail is a recipe for disaster and in some situations can violate laws and incur big fines. This usually means that at some point, your email recipients have requested to receive the information you are sending, or have opted in to receive marketing emails from your business. A double opt-in occurs when a form is submitted to request information and/or materials and then a confirmation email is sent to the email address provided to verify the subscription and email address. How many of us have used a fake email in the past just to get the goods? The double opt-in forces the individual to use a real email address before the information and materials are released. This keeps your email list clean and free from non-existent email addresses. Also, as etiquette, provide the recipient with a way to unsubscribe in every email.

3. USEFUL, TARGETED CONTENT – From the subject line to the valediction, every part of the email should be well thought out. Is your subject line catchy enough to get them to open the email? Does the recipient feel the need to read what you have sent?  Is the message in your email compelling and unique? Are you immediately delivering value as promised? Are you offering specific, targeted information to your audience? In addition to these things, it is also important that the content you’re providing is easily shared on social platforms and mediums. Creating or linking to something interactive like a YouTube video or contest can also be effective.

4. WORKFLOWS & CALLS TO ACTION – All of the above are extremely important, but if you are merely offering free information and never asking for anything more, you may be better off not sending anything in the first place. Every email sent should contain a call to action that moves the recipient/customer to the next level. It’s important to avoid sounding too much like a salesman, but you also have to provide a way for the recipient to “buy” or “learn more”. These links should ultimately guide them down your sales funnel. It’s also important to have a CRM or tracking tool like Hubspot, SalesForce or InfusionSoft, so you can see and generate reports on what your recipients are opening, responding to,  as well as keep track of the contact in general.

5. TEST, ADJUST, RESEND – Rarely is something perfect the first time. It’s important to have a tool and process in place to measure the effectiveness of your emails and see what emails are being opened, read, and clicked on. A/B testing can be an effective strategy to determine what is working and what is not. If you’re sending out HTML emails, it is imperative that you test how the email will look among the major email clients out there (Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, Mail etc.). Every client has it’s quirks, and adjustments often need to be made. Certain words and phrases in your email body can also be spam triggers for different email clients. Make sure to be aware of and avoid these if you want to land in inboxes. Testing, adjusting, and resending should be a constant refining process that is repeated over and over to achieve the best results.