Email is one of the easiest, most affordable, and most effective marketing tools out there. Nonetheless, launching an email-marketing program can seem a daunting challenge, especially for time-strapped entrepreneurs and small-business owners.

You're so busy running your business, how can you find the time to figure out what to say and how to say it? The key is to just get started and improve as you go, so I've put together some tips for finding the right tone and content to help you hit the ground running. That's Step 1.

Step 2 for email-marketing success involves targeting. Building your own opt-in email-marketing list is an accomplishment, but don't stop there. Once you start reaching out to your list subscribers with great content, you can then improve the targeting and relevance of your email-marketing campaigns by using segmentation.

Segmentation means dividing up your general email list into smaller sublists, or segments, by grouping people with similar interests, preferences, or purchasing behavior. That simple step will ultimately result in higher open and click-through rates.

In fact, open rates for segmented emails are 20% higher in the first 30 days compared with un-segmented emails (MarketingSherpa 2008). In addition to building a stronger connection between you and your customers, it will also foster a long-lasting, profitable relationship.

But before you can get started with segmentation, you must first figure out what to say in your emails, so let's begin with the following four points.

What to Say

1. Be casual

  • Avoid being too formal; keep the tone of your emails casual.
  • Your subscribers will feel more connected with your brand if you treat them as equals. Keep your messages conversational rather than sounding like a textbook.
  • Imagine you are talking to a friend. Using this tone in your emails will help your subscribers trust you more and will set the stage for building a relationship with them.

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Steve Adams is the vice-president of marketing for Protus (, a provider of communications tools, including the MyFax ( Internet fax service; my1voice (, a virtual phone service; and Campaigner (, an email-marketing solution. He can be reached at