Your email database is one of the most precious weapons in any business’ arsenal of marketing tools. It is any business owner’s dream to have and maintain an email database of reliable and responsive clients. With it, meetings can be scheduled, goals can be accomplished, and sales can be made.

However, there are certain rules all businesses engaged in email marketing need to keep in mind. Although an email database is an excellent tool, failure to take care of one’s email tactics and habits may result in eventual loss of loyal clients. The key is to build trust… but how does one do it? Here are a few suggestions.

Respect boundaries

Never assume that just anyone you meet or hands you a business card would want to constantly receive a barrage of emails and newsletters, proposals and marketing emails from you. Every single email in on your list should be thought of as a covenant between two parties. The recipient will receive emails she wants, delivered when she wants them, and the data gathered from the email program will be used to send better, more relevant emails. This covenant starts at the very beginning of building your list with the opt-in. When someone signs up to hear from you, send them a “Welcome”  email, being clear about what they can expect. If they’re signing up to learn the latest about trends in your industry, don’t send them a sales pitch every day — don’t send them one ever. If they’re giving you their email and asking to be kept informed about sales and products, then it’s a little different.

Overall, our conversations with someone over email shouldn’t be that different from if we were talking with them –or engaging them in a discussion — in person. Even if someone were to ask you to tell them about products and sales, you wouldn’t only ask them if they’re going to buy right now.

Be consistent

Along the same lines of letting consumers know what they can expect, the next step is to be consistent in emailing them. This means consistent in timing, frequency, and content. For example, if someone signs up for your emails at 8 AM, it’s reasonable to assume that’s a time they’re checking email and browsing the Internet. Your emails to them should be sent out at this time. Being consistent means being concerned about your clients’ personal space and schedule. Sometimes, getting surprise emails accomplishes the opposite of what it initially intends to do – which is, turn off the customer.

Pay attention to your clients’ email habits

Frequency is something that varies from industry to industry. Many businesses send out daily emails, if you’re marketing something different, a weekly or monthly email will suffice. But pay attention to who opens emails and when.  If you notice that the customer isn’t opening your emails on a regular basis, then that’s a signal that some people find your communications spammy. You could send them a more personal email asking if they still are interested in receiving emails. If you get no response from this particular email, take this as your cue to stop and move on to those who will appreciate them more.

Expect that most of your customers and potential customers have time and interest for reading only what pertains to them, as long as it gets to the point quickly. The more you target each e-mail message to individual recipients’ interests, the more likely they are to open, read, and respond to your messages. One way to solve and/or avoid this pattern from recurring is by giving subscribers choices. Offer them the ability to sign up for emails on certain subjects versus others, or for a weekly digest versus a daily message.

Taking into consideration all tips above, there must be one tip that you must remember when sending email materials to your database: The more personal the tone, or voice, the better. Write your message as though it is from a human being rather than an impersonal institution. People want to build relationships with other people, not with a company. Add to the personal touch by providing a little something extra, such as information that is related to your customers’ interests in your business. The more relevant an email is to a respondent, the more likely they will respond.