What were the first ten things you did after you woke up this morning? Aside from the obvious, I am confident enough to bet my puppy that one of the top things you did was:

Check your email.

Yes, I’m that confident.

You may have already had a couple of emails waiting for you. I know for me, I always wake up to about four emails from Groupon. Curiously, yet sleepy-eyed, I open to see what’s eagerly awaiting me in the world of advertisement. $8 bucks for $70 value? Sure! Once again, I’m sucked in.

There is no question about how powerful email marketing can be for your business. Not only is it a venue to gain loyal customers, but also a chance to market new features or products. It’s one of the the most effective and least expensive marketing tools when used properly. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) did an assessment on the email marketing industry and found out that the potential return on investment (ROI) can be about $60 USD per $1 USD spent. The key word here is potential, which makes it all the more vital to do your marketing homework and take advantage of available resources to maximize that ROI.

There are so many little things that can make or break an email: time of day sent, spam guards, relevance, incentives, and even the email headline. Trying to optimize all of these factors into one, triumphant email can be challenging.  Whether you’re a business that hasn’t used email marketing or are now looking to upgrade your current email system, services like Constant Contact help make the delicate process rather simple. For the beginner, its straightforward design is very comforting and user friendly.  Upon signing up, they offer  training videos and supportive user communities at your dispense. You can even export your business cards from Shoeboxed directly into your marketing lists, saving you time and potential typos. When it comes down to designing your email, you can choose from an array of professional templates (or for the more advanced, you can add your own HTML codes to create your own). Features like the “drag-and-drop” make it easy to add your own graphics and links, giving your email a personalized feel that many marketing emails lack. Constant Contact can even track key data indicators (such as open and click through rates), so you can measure the strengths and weaknesses of your email campaigns.

I could go on and on about the features. However, it’s one thing to create a beautiful, well-crafted email, and another to watch your conversion rates climb before your eyes. It’s not a 100% guaranteed success rate in email marketing, but so long as you actively participate, it will surely keep your small business competitive and growing.