4. Change your focus from sales-based to education-based. "Today, many marketers view email campaigns primarily as a product or service showcase," says Cates. "They display their newest offerings, and then provide direct links to purchase. However, even with great deals and promotions, customers are becoming bored with the bombardment of sales pitches," he says.
With that in mind instead of constantly lobbing sales pitches to current and prospective customers, provide content that adds value--e.g., useful information about a topic or problem--without pushing a particular product or service.
"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.