co Why Email is Still the Best Way to Stay in Touch With Your Small Business Customers |

Some people Twitter. Others are on Facebook or LinkedIn, but did you know that 88% of all Internet users in the U.S. regularly use email? (UCLA Center for Communication Policy survey, 2001). I can only imagine that number has increased in the past few years. When you think about it, email is the feature most used on a computer. That’s why it’s the best way to contact your small business clients and business associates.

Building a house email list is smart step. Email subscribers want your email, so you’ve jumped over the first hurdle–being opened and actually read. Consider using email marketing programs such as
Constant Contact, Vertical Response, iContact, Relenta, Mailing-Manager, or Campaigner. Any of these programs will help you manage your subscriber database and create emails that are succinct and likely to be read, as well as help you create emails, marketing campaigns, and create autoresponders and the help you publish RSS feeds.

But don’t drive them crazy. Everyone’s inboxes are inundated with emails, and if you don’t do it right, you’ll be deleted before you ever get read.

The best way to avoid email delete?
Fill out the subject line and say exactly what the email is about.
Clarity. Brevity. Two words that make email readers smile.

Keep your emails short. Shoot for no more than two paragraphs. Or one paragraph and 3-5 bullet points. Start with an opening line or two stating what you want.

What do you want? Never send an email without asking yourself that question–and then making sure you answered it–before you press “send.”

Ask a question. Announce an event, promotion, or improvement. Ask for something you need. Say thank you. Plan a get together. Say it early and don’t bury it deep in a paragraph.

Leave lots of white space. Like I’m doing here. This is the easier way for a reader to peruse your email and let their eye fall to what’s important.

Use your English skills. Emails aren’t text messages, and you’re not 14, so spell things out–and run spell check. Strive to sound warm (not mechanical) and professional.

Expect some things to be misunderstood. It’s hard to read “tone” in an email so try to be clear. Sarcasm, humor, and frustration can easily be misread. If you think something you would write in an email could be misconstrued, then pick up the phone and call them.

Take the time to be nice. A little chit-chat might be necessary to build a relationship, especially with new customers. Remember to say thank you, please, and I’ll get back to you soon. And keep your word–as hard as it is to answer all your emails, prioritize them and respond properly–and when you can’t meet a deadline, let someone know.

Use an email signature to end your email, and always list your telephone number and website.

Yes, we all get too many emails, but no one minds the timely email that delivers needed information. Emailing your small business customers is still the best way to stay in touch.