Common Business Questions

Q: I need to expand my marketing efforts. What are the benefits of an email marketing campaign?

A: Email marketing is one of the lowest cost methods of communicating your message to potential customers at about $.03 each. A successful email campaign is highly targeted, ensures direct delivery, builds continuity and has the potential to establish you as an expert. A great message gives the recipient a “call to action” that increases the probability of a sale.

Q: I’m concerned that my message will be tagged as “SPAM” and won’t get read. How do I avoid that?

A: It starts with your email list. In order to send email messages that will be read, your list must contain addresses of people who want to hear from you. You should build a list by asking current customers for their emails and disclosing your intent. Another way is to embed a link on your website that allows viewers to choose to get emails from you. If you want to collect more addresses, you could email new contacts you have collected via chamber events, trade shows, etc. Always provide a way for recipients to decline your message or “Opt-out” and be careful to observe the rules of email etiquette.

Q: What do I need to know about email etiquette?

A: When you send a message, make sure it is relevant and implies professionalism. The message must observe these guidelines:

• It is well written with no grammar, spelling, syntax errors;

• It provides background and contact information, including and “Opt-out” feature;

• It is polite and positive; and

• It does not contain information that you would not want forwarded to strangers.

Also, keep messages short, don’t type in capital letters, avoid using emotive punctuation and avoid slang. If you get responses, reply in 24 hours to acknowledge them – customer relationship management software can help with this – then follow-up individual inquiries soon thereafter. Your email should direct people to your website so, once they get there, make it easy for them and you. Include a “Frequently Asked Questions” section to help screen inquiries and provide contact information for everyone in your company who is handling inquiries.

Q: Great, anything else I need to know?

A: Yes, your email campaign can backfire on you if you don’t remove addressees who request to “Opt-out”; send messages to people who are strangers; use unusable reply links; or include messages that may be considered in poor taste or irrelevant. Jokes and anecdotal stories fall into this last category. Always give people a way to choose not to receive emails from you. A good practice is a double “Opt in.” This method allows a reader to choose to receive emails by clicking a box on your website. You can then follow up with an email that gives them a chance to confirm it. By all means, never sell your lists. Check out for laws related to unsolicited bulk and commercial email.


Janet Harte is the center director and certified business advisor for Washington State University Small Business Development Center in Southwest Washington. The SBDC offers free, confidential business management advice and counseling to small and mid-sized businesses. Call 360-260-6372 or email