When you run your business from the road, it can be tough to find the time to plan and run an effective email marketing campaign. A recent survey by Constant Contact found that 44 percent of small business respondents build their lists to generate repeat business through email marketing.

Even when you’re running your email campaign between customer stops, there are still some basic best practices to make the effort more efficient and effective for your business, says Alexander Kesler, founder of Boston digital marketing agency inSegment. Here, he shares his tips for email marketing mastery:

  • Build your list. In that Constant Contact survey, 57 percent of respondents said they try to build their email lists at all times. Every time you come into contact with a customer or prospect, you should be trying to capture the individual’s contact information, including their email address, Kesler says. Then, get permission to add them to your list. Offer a special report or coupon on your website to those who subscribe to your email list. Encourage people to subscribe via your social media and other marketing platforms.
  • Create a schedule. Most of today’s email platforms offer robust tools for building great-looking email programs and also offer the ability to schedule your email marketing blasts in advance. Kesler recommends setting a specific time when your email will be delivered each week or each month. Then, craft the email messages in advance so you’re not always under pressure to get them done.

“That way, customers know when to expect them, and you can work on them when you have the time,” he says.

  • Be compliant. It’s critical to understand the regulations that govern email marketing, especially the CAN SPAM Act, which says that email messages must be clearly labeled and that you must allow people a method to unsubscribe easily, among other rules. Many of today’s email marketing platforms have compliance tools built in, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published this useful guide to help businesses understand their obligations.
  • Tell them why it matters. Your email subject line should tell the reader the benefit of opening the email, or what’s in it for them, Kesler says. So, don’t use “Don’s Plumbing Email Newsletter” as a subject line, but something more compelling such as, “Four Pipe Winter-Proofing Tips You Need to Know Now.” Then, deliver something useful in the email such as coupons, special offers, tips, or valuable information to make it worthwhile for the reader.
  • Test and re-test. One of the most important ways you can make your email marketing campaign more effective is to constantly test to find out what pulls. Dynamic subject lines pull best, but try different ones. Shorten or lengthen content and see how people respond. As you learn more about what works, you can consistently improve response to your campaigns.