Every piece of data you collect can help you serve your audience exactly what they want.

How much time do you spend in your inbox every day?

If your answer is along the lines of “I’d rather not know,” we hear you. Email is today’s primary method of business communication—and not just because co-workers are constantly going back and forth about their latest projects. More than 70 percent of people prefer to receive communications from businesses via email over any other digital marketing channel. According to DMA, for one in five companies, the ROI of email marketing is greater than 70 to 1.

In other words, if your brand is slacking on its email strategy, you’re losing sales as we speak. You probably know the basics behind solid email marketing: Send relevant, targeted messages and always provide value to your subscribers. However, it can’t hurt to dig into the specifics behind your email program and test new strategies that might pay off in a big way. Below are four critical touch points in your brand’s relationship with subscribers, plus tips for how email can help encourage engagement and sales every step of the way.

1. Start the conversation on your website.

It might sound like common sense, but it bears repeating: When people raise their hands and opt into your email list voluntarily, they’re less likely to view your messages as spam. Kick off new subscriber relationships on the right foot by using a lead magnet, such as exclusive content or a timely discount, to encourage signups. Avoid creating friction by requiring new subscribers to fill out lengthy forms or share personal information beyond their email addresses. However, if you make personal fields optional, you can collect more valuable data you can use as your relationship grows, like birthdays and locations.

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2. Win them over with a friendly “hello.”

When someone subscribes to your email list, sending them an automated welcome message can help set the stage for continued engagement and a developing a personal connection with your brand. (33 percent of customers who receive welcome emails are more likely to become long-term fans.) Keep your message simple and to the point: Thank them for their interest, introduce them to your brand, and set up expectations for how often they can expect to hear from you.

Beyond the welcome message, keep in mind that your subject lines will be the gatekeeper to every email you send. If it catches their eye, they’re more likely to open the message; if not, it might be headed for the trash. You never know what might resonate with your audience, so don’t be afraid to get bold and creative. Just be sure to A/B test everything and collect data every step of the way.

3. Let customer behavior take the lead.

About that behavioral data you’ve collected: Put it to work. Send hyper-personalized emails to your subscriber base, and you’ll demonstrate that you’re paying attention to customers’ interests, preferences and habits. For example, you could periodically share recommendations based on a customer’s browsing history in your online store. Following a purchase, your thank-you email could go above and beyond by sharing helpful advice or an insider tip about the product. Or, if a customer leaves a review on your website, send a timely email thanking them for their support. According to BlueShift, triggered emails drive 624 percent higher conversion rates than “batch and blast” emails, making it crucial to send timely, relevant email content to your audience.

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4. Ask for—and listen to—subscriber feedback.

Not every customer will convert, and not every email subscriber will stay on your mailing list forever. It’s a fact of life (and business). Don’t shy away from asking customers how your brand can improve; every piece of data you collect can help you serve your audience exactly what they want. Focus on repeat customers to learn why they keep coming back, and consider sharing deals and loyalty rewards in response to their feedback. By nurturing subscribers over time, one-time customers can turn into brand advocates for life.

The White House Office of Consumer Affairs reports that a loyal customer is usually worth up to 10 times more than the cost of their original purchase. For retailers, this highlights a massive opportunity to nurture and grow customer relationships through digital channels—particularly email. By meeting customers on the playing field they prefer (the inbox), taking note of their preferences and catering to their needs, your brand can demonstrate its genuine investment in the very individuals that propel its growth.

Emma is the email marketing service provider for three of the Top 1000 online retailers in North America, according to Top500Guide.com.

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