When’s the last time you read that email was dead? Gone? Buried alive? It probably wasn’t very long ago. Just like social media, plenty of people proclaim that email marketing is a thing of the past. Don’t believe the hype. Email marketing has its place in the digital marketing world thanks to its ability to drive revenue and create one-on-one interaction between consumers and brands.

It’s likely, though, that your email marketing strategy could use some tidying up. If you neglect this channel for too long, your emails will become stale and outdated, and this type of communication is almost always destined for the trash pile. Let’s discuss four key ways that you can become an email marketing powerhouse that will have other companies wondering why they aren’t placing more emphasis on their email strategies.

Step #1: Build the best email list, like, ever.

Think of your email list as a blueprint. It contains all the information you need to build successful interactions with your customers. Rushing through this step could mean lost opportunities for your business.

The easiest way to get more people on your subscriber list is by asking them to sign up. Unfortunately, easy is never that easy. With all the other companies out there asking people to sign up, your request is going to get lost if you don’t sweeten the pot a little.

First, tell users exactly what they can expect when signing up for your emails. Do you shower them with insider tips and secrets? Do you reward them with subscriber-only discounts and coupon codes? You need to explain the value of your emails and how people can benefit by signing up.

Second, it can be helpful to give users a small reward for signing up for your emails such as an ebook, whitepaper or discount for a future purchase. This small incentive can make the difference for a person on the fence. If you continue to provide them with valuable content and information, they may turn into a loyal customer and brand advocate. The rest, as they say, is history.

Third, make signing up easy for users. People are lazy when they’re online. They don’t want to have to work hard, face long load times or be bombarded with questions. Ask only for the information you need such as a name and email address. Less is more. Make the fields large and easy to fill out. Have large buttons with clear CTAs.

Step #2: Get to know your audience like family.

We’re not talking about your second cousin’s husband family, either. You should get to know your audience like close family. What types of things frustrate your customers? What types of things make them happy? What are their interests? What motivates them to buy? What are they doing right now?

These questions matter because they indicate where your product fits into their lifestyle. It’s great to bring in a new customer, but you need to think longer term. What types of pain points does your product solve? Will your product be valuable to your customers in a few years?

Using analytics software, you can learn a lot about your customers and how to approach them. By discovering their demographics, buying behaviors and interests, you can better initiate conversations and turn your product into a way of life rather than something that is bought once.

Step #3: Treat your customers to some personalization.

People care about things when it’s personal to them. Don’t think of what’s valuable to your business or what looks good to you. Think of what will entice your prospects to give a second look to your email. Personalized emails improve click-through rates by 14 percent and conversion rates by 10 percent.

Once you have the person’s attention, the design of the message, the content and the offer should all be personalized as well. Thankfully, the better you target your audience, the better results you will see. And, with the ability to segment your email lists, it’s easier than ever to target your messages based on where they are in the customer journey.

Let’s say that your company sells furniture. Jan purchased a bedroom set last year. Leslie has come in several times throughout the year to purchase a new couch set, a lamp and a loft for her son’s college dorm room. Mark signed up for your emails but hasn’t made a purchase. Even though they are all customers of yours, they are all very different.

Jan may benefit from an email that encourages her to come back and save money on a new mirror to match her bedroom set. Leslie is a regular customer, so why not reward her with an even bigger discount? You could also make it a win-win by giving her cash back by referring a friend to your business. Mark may need more persuading through content that documents the pros of buying new furniture, how to decorate and more.

Bottom line: Get to know your different audiences and personalize your content to fit their needs. The more you succeed at this, the more important and valued they will feel.

Step #4: Look your Sunday’s best on mobile devices.

More people are checking their emails on their smartphones and tablets as opposed to their PCs. In fact, people check their phones up to 150 times a day! This means that your emails need to look GREAT on mobile devices. If they don’t, your chances of having the email deleted are 80 percent! Is that a risk you’re willing to take? We didn’t think so.

Here are a few things you should ask yourself when creating emails for mobile users.

  • Does the email open quickly?

  • Do the content and images load fast?

  • Are the buttons and links easy to press?

  • Is the font simple to read, or do you have to zoom a lot?

  • Is navigation smooth to the touch? Or is it slow and choppy?

To make things mobile-friendly usually means to keep things simple. So don’t overdo your emails on heavy graphics and images and links. People don’t have the time for that. No way.

Email marketing is awesome. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.