Email marketing has the highest return on investment of any marketing medium. It's a powerful tool that's not going away any time soon.

High success rates come when you put forth the effort to ensure your lists are clean and current, your content is sound and simple, and your ability to track results helps you fine-tune future campaigns to increase engagement.

Most small businesses operate on a very tight marketing budget. They usually have one person dedicated to handling email marketing; often, that person is also wearing other hats. Being able to efficiently create, send, and track email campaigns that work takes trial and error and lots of practice.

Below are seven tips to help you be successful in getting the most out of your email marketing efforts.

Tip 1: Start with clean-list-building practices. It's important to create a list based on people who have already expressed an interest in hearing about your product or service. When you have consent or the proper permission to send an email to someone, success rates and deliverability go way up. You want the sender to recognize you when you send them an email. You also might consider segmenting your list so you can be more accurate when personalizing your content to a more specialized audience.

Tip 2: Keep lists current. The age of your list also matters. People's interests change and their addresses change. Send a campaign at least every three months to make sure your list is still good. Lists that are over a year old put you at risk of getting blacklisted or blocked; once that happens, it is very hard to get your emails delivered. If you are concerned that you might already be blacklisted, see the current list of sites at the end of this article; use them to search your domain and IP address to ensure you're in the clear.

Tip 3: Have an online presence. Stop using a Gmail (or Yahoo or Hotmail) address to promote your brand. Get your own domain and website. Include an email submission form on your homepage to help build your list. When you send an email with your domain name in the address, it is more likely to be recognized and opened. To improve delivery in the future, add a call to action at the beginning of each email asking your email recipients to add your address to their address book.

Tip 4: Develop engaging content. Personalize emails when you can. Keep content simple with a good balance of text and images. Spammers don't usually "waste" time doing so, whereas some marketers want to dazzle with too many images. Emails with JavaScript and attachments also send a red flag.

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image of Kevin Huxham

Kevin Huxham is director of deliverability for CakeMail, a Montreal-based creator of an email marketing application for small businesses. Kevin manages delivery, fights abuse, and educates clients on compliance, reputation, and engagement, including the Canadian Anti-Spam Law and its effects on businesses worldwide.

LinkedIn: Kevin Huxham