Email is a marketing dream… if it’s done well, anyway. It’s affordable. It’s direct. It’s visual. It’s quick. And it’s no secret that businesses are using email to stay in contact and build relationships with existing and potential customers. Here’s how marketing-savvy small businesses are making this medium work for them.

Email for a reason. Sounds logical, but you might be surprised how easy it is to toss strategy aside when it comes down to executing marketing tactics. Before you create the email content, refer to your marketing blueprint (you’ve got one, right? <<Hyperlink to marketing plan post>>). Are you using email to drum up new business? Demonstrate your prowess as a thought leader in residential design? Are you trying to drive traffic to your website or blog? Know what you want your readers to take away from the email.

Right message. Right audience. Right time. Regardless of your goal, your email will only resonate if the message is relevant to the recipient and is delivered with exceptional timing. Springtime, for instance, is a great opportunity to engage with your audience. As winter thaws, people look to spruce things up at home and may have tax refunds burning a hole in their pockets. The main thing is to be relevant and stick to your goals.

The subject line matters. Don’t scoff. When you consider that consumers receive or send almost 100 emails every day—a statistic separate from the more than 100 business emails that come and go—that’s a lot of noise. No one wants to open an email that seems unnecessary, irrelevant or overtly salesy. Succinct and honest subject lines will help you build better rapport and be more successful with your emails over the long-term.

Look, email may not be the Holy Grail of marketing, but it is without a doubt a handy tool that gives an easy, visual and affordable direct link between marketer and customer. It’s a no-brainer inclusion in many business marketing plans.