Boston (Gawkwire.com) While email is fast becoming the marketing channel of choice for most growing businesses, concerns remain. In an effort to reduce stuffed in-boxes, consumers are increasingly using spam filters that block even the most legitimate email marketing, and JupiterResearch reports that 17 percent of Americans change email addresses every six months. But there are proven ways to make your message resonate with a target audience. FuelNet.com, a Web site designed to help small and midsize companies grow their business, offers these six tips:

1.   Build your list, don’t buy it. Even though the price may be modest for tens of thousands of names, the demographics of a purchased or rented list are a crapshoot, and there’s always a risk you’ll be accused of spamming. Instead, give visitors to your Web site an easy way — and a legitimate reason — to opt in to your emails.

2.   Make it more than a sales pitch. Email campaigns that only hawk products are doomed to the trash folder. Instead, use email to provide valuable insights and guidance that further the reader’s understanding and appreciation of your product or service. "Have something to say," recommends Ben Chestnut, cofounder of the Rocket Science Group, an Atlanta firm that produces the email software MailChimp. "Don’t just add to the clutter."

3.   Keep it short. An email marketing effort wrapped in a newsletter can be overwhelming for the reader. Rebecca Leigh Brian, owner of the New York-based marketing and branding firm Tribecca Designs, prefers "e-blasts" — succinct emails that highlight products or events. "Usually, we keep e-blasts to six sentences or less," she notes.

4.   Link to a blog. Blogs and email marketing aren’t mutually exclusive. If your email is brief, include a link to a blog for more comprehensive information. "A brief email and a link to a blog go together," Chestnut says. "They’re like peanut butter and chocolate."

5.   Build momentum. Email campaigns work best when they build on prior material, creating a complete picture of what you do. "Each one should offer a nugget of value," Brian points out.

6.   Solicit feedback. Email marketing is a great opportunity to connect with customers and best prospects. Jamie Carney, president and CEO of RugsDoneRight.com, asks for suggestions on ways to improve her Web site.

For more online marketing insights, download the free FuelNet Smart Paper "Internet Marketing: Online Advertising Tips for Business Growth."



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