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While there are more communication channels to choose from than ever before, email is still one of the most popular and valuable tools for small businesses looking to reach their audience and drive revenue. The number of emails sent each day is expected to reach 246 billion by the end of 2019, and for every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $38.

However, some of the email marketing tactics used by businesses have given the platform a bad name among certain consumers. While you may think you are using email strategically to generate leads or build your social media audience, you may in fact be alienating your audience. In the spirit of Halloween, here are a few tips for making sure that, when it comes to your digital tactics, you are delivering “treats” rather than “tricks” to customers and prospects.

Make it Personal

Companies that rave about their success using email marketing are likely to be taking a personalized approach and tailoring their campaigns to customer needs. One of the keys to this strategy is to capitalize on the personality of your small business and “treat” your audience to your insights and expertise.

Email newsletters are an ideal platform for providing this kind of valuable content to clients or customers. Statistics show that people are twice as likely to sign up for your email list as they are to interact with you on Facebook. While this makes your small business e-newsletter an essential marketing tool, it can become a liability if you have “tricked” people into receiving what turns out to be a continual sales pitch.

Take a hard look at what you are emailing to clients or customers, and make sure you provide them with informative, entertaining, and well-written information. Share comments on industry happenings, insider secrets, and helpful solutions that address customer issues or respond to their feedback. Craft your content into bite-sized bits that are easy to digest and link back to your website or blog. Avoid anything that is self-serving or a waste of readers’ valuable time. Along with stuffing people’s Inboxes with too-frequent mailings, this often leads people to auto-delete content or unsubscribe. Instead, creating the kind of newsletters customers will save and savor will help keep your small business top of mind.

Be Socially Responsible

Social media websites give small businesses the opportunity to share great content with a broad range of customers and prospects. Encouraging your email audience to join you on social media is a viable marketing strategy. However, bombarding people with such requests and not having worthwhile content on your pages can make it glaringly obvious that your business is just looking to boost the number of followers.

Establishing a strong presence on social media requires small businesses to invest time and effort in building engagement and relationships. This means not only sharing quality content that entertains and inspires, but also engaging followers in conversation and finding out what they think. Ask them what kind of content they would like to see and what they do and don’t love about your business or organization. Encourage new customers to share their stories, and feature them across your social platforms as well as in your newsletter and on your website. Don’t forget to “treat” your social followers right by rewarding their loyalty with special offers, contests, and curated content.

Earn Your Customers’ Trust

Building trust begins and ends with being truthful. Savvy customers and clients know when they are being misled. Like a scary Halloween mask, they are suspicious of businesses that do not come across as being real, transparent, and honest.

Proving to your customers that they can count on you to continually meet or exceed their expectations will build trust and generate repeat business and referrals. According to a recent survey by Concerto Marketing Group, when customers trust a brand, 83% will recommend the company to others and 82% will continue to use the same brand.

When using email to ask customers for referrals, one way to build trust is by communicating in ways that show the human side of your small business – and avoiding actions that make people feel they’ve been “tricked.” Instead, “treat” those who willingly refer friends and family for their faith in the integrity of your business. Consider offering a gift card for every referral that makes a purchase or schedules a service. Enter everyone who provides a referral into a drawing to win a valuable prize. Keep in mind that harassing these referrals is the surest way to break your customers’ trust and ultimately lose their business as well.

Taking a more personal, thoughtful approach to using email now will earn the loyalty (and referrals) of customers in advance of the busy holiday season. It will also differentiate your small business from competitors who will be overwhelming customers and prospects with non-stop promotions and translate into more sales as the season unfolds.

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