The secret to writing email messages that people actually read is to send them information that they truly want. You might want to send everyone on your list a coupon for a specific product or a heads up about a product you’re launching or event you’re holding for your marijuana-related business, but guess what? If recipients don’t want that information, your efforts amount to little more than wasted time and money.

Bottom-line, you need to understand the number one rule of marketing: No one cares about you. They care about how you, your business, and your products and/or services can help them by making their lives easier, happier, or better. Again, it doesn’t matter what you want to send to your email list. All that matters is what they want to receive from you. When you can figure that out, your email marketing results will improve dramatically.

With that said, you’re probably wondering how you figure out what information your audience wants from you. Fortunately, you can figure this out by publishing content on your blog and across your social media channels and monitoring the topics your audience responds to the most. Which topics engage them?

You can also send market research surveys and ask your audience what they want from you, how they want to receive it, and how often they want to get it. This could include educational messages, videos, promotional offers, and more. The best way to find out what people want is to ask them.

An essential component of successful email marketing is testing, so be prepared to invest time into experimentation once you have an idea of the type of messages your audience wants to receive from you. Create a variety of A/B split tests, and test everything from your message subject lines and sender’s name to the content, images, sending time, and more.

Ideally, you should test every element of your messages to optimize your results, but don’t feel overwhelmed. It’s better to start testing and learning how to improve your messages a little bit at a time than to not test at all. Start slowly and work your way up to testing a wide variety of elements.

Now that you have a basic introduction to begin strategizing your email marketing campaigns, it’s time to consider different ways that you can improve your messages to boost open rates and click-through rates. Ideally, you want people to open, read, and take action when they receive your messages by clicking on a link to learn more or possibly make a purchase. Here are five key elements that I discuss in my book, Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for Business, which you should test and work to improve in order to motivate more people to read your messages:

1. Sender’s Name

Most often, you’ll get the highest open rates when recipients see a real name in the sender’s position within their email inboxes. However, this isn’t a rule, so test this element to see what works best with your audience.

Try sending messages from a person’s name versus your business name to see which performs better. Once you have your answer, send all of your messages from that sender so recipients recognize it when they see it in the future.

2. Subject Line

The subject line of your email messages must capture people’s attention and motivate them to open the message so they can see the call to action in your message. Therefore, keep your subject lines clear and succinct. Focus on communicating a benefit recipients will get when they open the message or mention how the content of the message will solve a problem they have.

Subject lines are one of the most important elements of your email marketing messages that you should split test to ensure the majority of recipients get the message with the best possible subject line.

3. Inbox Preview Text

The inbox preview text is the text that shows up in some email inboxes after the subject line when space allows and the preview feature is turned on. This is an element that many email marketers don’t bother with, but they’re missing a big opportunity to communicate more to recipients before opening their messages.

Therefore, fill the inbox preview area with copy that motivates people to open your message by focusing on benefit-oriented messages that appeal to recipients’ emotions. Test this on multiple devices to ensure what you think people will see in their inboxes is what they’ll actually see.

4. Body Copy

The body copy of your email marketing messages should be action-oriented, highly relevant to the audience, and easy to skim through quickly. That means you should start with your most important messages and use formatting to make your body copy easy to scan. For example, use short paragraphs, headings, and bulleted lists to break up long blocks of copy.

You can learn more about writing effective email copy in my book, Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps. In the book, I also explain the importance of focusing on the benefits of your product or service, not the features as well as writing in the second person using “you” more often than you use “we” or “me” in your copy. This simple tactic makes your message seem more personal because you’re talking to and about your audience more than you’re talking about yourself. It also helps to build an emotional connection between the recipient and your brand.

Your body copy should also include your call to action, which must make it extremely obvious what you want recipients to do after they read your message. Include clear instructions and links and/or buttons so there is no doubt what their next step should be.

5. Avoid Making Mistakes that Keep Your Messages from Being Delivered

If people don’t receive your email messages, they have no way to read them. Therefore, it’s critical that you avoid making email marketing mistakes that set off spam flags and keep your messages from being delivered to people’s inboxes.

Therefore, you should review the 10 reasons email messages don’t get delivered and make sure you’re not doing any common email marketing don’ts. Avoid these mistakes at all costs because the mistakes you make today could affect the deliverability of all of your email marketing messages in the future!

Making Email Marketing Work for Marijuana-Related Businesses

Email marketing is essential to marijuana-related businesses and can help drive significant profits. However, there are rules to follow and tricks to implement in order to get the best results. Whether you’re a marijuana retailer or you provide ancillary products and services to the marijuana industry, there are email marketing messages you should be sending to generate profits. Don’t miss out on that opportunity, because I guarantee you, your competitors won’t miss it.

Susan Gunelius, Lead Analyst for Cannabiz Media and author of Marijuana Licensing Reference Guide: 2017 Edition, is also President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company offering, copywriting, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and strategic branding services. She spent the first half of her 25-year career directing marketing programs for AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more as well as small businesses around the world. Susan has written 11 marketing-related books, including the highly popular Content Marketing for Dummies, 30-Minute Social Media Marketing, Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps, The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing, and she is a popular marketing and branding keynote speaker. She is also a Certified Career Coach and Founder and Editor in Chief of Women on Business, an award-winning blog for business women. Susan holds a B.S. in marketing and an M.B.A in management and strategy.