There’s little else as cost-effective for small business as email marketing.

That’s not just speculation, either, a recent study by The Direct Marketing Association showed that the return for an average email campaign is 38 dollars for every one dollar spent, with the top 20 percent of companies reporting showing a return of a whopping 70 dollars for the same sawbuck. Email has been a consistently effective tool for marketing since its wider adoption, making it a favorite for small businesses everywhere.

Tricks for Optimizing Email Marketing Effectiveness

There’s a world’s worth of difference between the results you’ll get by sending out cold emails to people who have no idea who you are and priming the pump, so to speak, and using email as a tool to make contact with existing customers, people who use your site and so forth. Even if you’re working with an optimal group of customers, there are still some tricks to turn those emails into lead-generation machines.

Here are just a few to get you started:

Ask, ask, ask. This point cannot be stressed enough. Permission marketing is the pinnacle of email excellence and it builds strong relationships with your email list. Don’t force yourself on anybody, ask them if they want to sign up.

You’ll be surprised at how many people will jump on the chance to stay up to date with what’s happening at your company.

Always provide something with substance. New product announcements, coupons and previews of special events are all great reasons to send out emails. You could even use your emails as a platform to educate your buyers more about your product, but whatever you do, don’t use them for strict promotional.

Mix it up and include four or five pieces of content your shoppers would like to see to every one piece of strict sales material.

Match your emails to your answering service. A few choice answering services now have the capability of signing callers up for your newsletter or sending out other materials via email at their request.

This capability can be a huge thing for your company, since these answering service-generated emails will remind your callers exactly why it was they called, educate them on your products and create a lot of really good feelings about your business without increasing your costs substantially.

Make sure it’s easy to opt-out. Even if someone agrees to sign up for your email messages, there’s nothing saying they can’t change their mind.

If you’re trying to hold them hostage by hiding the opt-out button or forcing them to jump through a bunch of hoops to get rid of the emails that are plaguing them, these people are going to spread the word about what a pain it is to deal with your company. And, hey, who knows, they might be unsubscribing simply to move their messages to a different email box where they’re easier to find!

Email continues to be a cost-effective way to connect to new customers and stay in touch with customers that have been loyal for a while. Although it’s never guaranteed, coupling your email with other mediums, like your call answering service, can help push your ROI up into the stratosphere.