It seems as though every new marketing article or blog post these days is focusing on social media or mobile media. But email marketing is still one of the most efficient ways to connect with customers and prospects.

So, how do you get consumers to actually open your email and read the valuable contents inside? Mashable and AdAge broke down a list of smart and effective email marketing tactics. Here’s a baker’s dozen you should consider implementing into your campaign.

1. Combine with social platforms: Brands are seeing success when using Twitter and Facebook to gain email subscribers. Send your followers tweets with a shortened URL that allows them to easily click and opt-in to your email mailing list. By creating easy email subscription sign-ups on your Facebook page you have the opportunity to attract more subscribers.

2. Know who you’re talking to: Companies often make the mistake of sending universal email blasts to their entire mailing listing with zero regard to who they’re actually talking to.  Segment your database and design personalized emails that the specific viewer will actually want to read. One way is to screen your subscribers when they first sign up. Ask them what they want to get out of these emails and find out who they are as a consumer. This way, you’re sending them content they actually want to and will read.

3. Let them know who’s talking to them: According to AdAge, 70% of consumers say the “from” line drives their decision to either open or ignore the email and 30% say it’s the subject line. These two touch points give you an opportunity to brand your email and let consumers know who’s talking to them.

4. Give them an incentive: Everyone loves getting a little something special in the mail. Send your subscribers a free gift on their birthday or a 20% off coupon for Father’s Day. Give them a reason to open up the email and they’ll be wanting to come back for more.

5. Extend the offer across social platforms: Extend this incentive across social media platforms by giving viewers the ability to share their news on Facebook and Twitter. By making consumers an advocate for your brand, their friends and followers will be interested in signing up, too.

6. Create mobile-friendly emails: According to ComScore mobile email usage increased 36% in 2010.  By creating mobile-friendly emails, your on-the-go viewers have the opportunity to read and click-through while on the train or waiting at the doctor’s office.

7. Where to put your most important message: When designing mobile-friendly emails, the key is to make sure the first line in the email is your most important message. Why? The first line is what shows up as the preview on smartphones. It’s about putting your best foot forward.

8. Expand your email list with SMS text: Give consumers an easy way to opt-in to your email database with a simple text. You can do so by letting consumers know all they have to do is text their email address to you SMS short code to subscribe.

9. Make announcements: Consumers are more likely to open up an email with announcement of news. Letting them know a sale ends soon, a new product alert or limited time offers gets them to open up the email and act fast.

10. Frequency and Relevance: AdAge reports that these are the two key elements to keep in mind when using email as a marketing tactic. Don’t bombard your subscribers with a flood of emails, but don’t neglect them either. Provide them with relevant content. If they just bought a product at your store, send them a survey to learn about their experience.

11. Current event tie-ins: Mashable states that viewers respond well to emails related to current events and pop culture. Find creative and fun ways to tie in what’s going on in the area with your brand.

12. Test your tactics: Test subject lines, offers and messages to see what works and what tanks. By testing your tactics you have the ability to know what grabs readers attention and gets them to interact with your email.

13. Listen to feedback: Make it easy for your consumers to leave comments and give feedback so you can give them more of what they want. Email is and always should be a form of two-way communication, so give them the opportunity to respond.

Posted by Rebecca Wilson, Marketing Analyst for the 60 Second Marketer.