Email marketing has long been an effective way to reach customers and potential customers. With the right email marketing campaign in place, you can encourage new sales, promote brand loyalty, and increase your returning sales, helping to ensure your long-term success.

Yet just as your online marketing strategy has to be regularly updated to remain relevant and effective, so does your email marketing strategy have to be updated. Otherwise, you will be missing out on sales and opportunities to connect.

Here are a few things you need to do to develop a winning 2016 email strategy:

Test Your Campaign Like You’re a New User

Before you can start making changes to your email strategy, you need to look at it with fresh eyes.

Go through your entire email campaign as if you are a new user. Sign up for the email list, confirm it, and open each email that you receive from the autoresponder.

Pay attention to the user experience as you go. Was it easy to sign up? Did you find all the information you needed about privacy and other terms of use? Did you get the promised download or other incentive? Did emails arrive in a timely manner?

Also pay close attention to the design and content that is used to incentivize users. Are you using the right strategy to convince users to sign up? Are you providing real value to convince them to remain subscribed?

Re-Evaluate Why Customers Should Sign Up

You know why you want customers to sign up for your email list, but do you know why they should sign up?

Buying your products or services isn’t going to be an attractive reason for customers, even if that is the bottom line for you.

You need to offer users an incentive to join your email list, and you need to deliver on those promises. If you are offering a free download, that’s an easy promise to deliver. Just send the file on confirmation of subscription.

However, if you promise to reveal cutting-edge tips or secrets of the trade, you need to make sure that your users will feel the same about these claims once they get the information you provide. If users sign up and don’t get what they expect, they will have a negative image of your brand. That will be worse for you than if they had never signed up at all.

Make sure you have something great to offer users for signing up, and make sure you continue to offer them something great after they have subscribed.

Provide Incentives for Repeat Purchases

Ultimately, you hope that your email list will result in sales.

You also hope that your email subscribers remain subscribers, which should result in repeat sales.

However, it can be easy to become so fixated on establishing and growing your email list that you forget about those subscribers who are already on it.

You need to include incentives in your email strategy for repeat sales. That might mean segmenting your list and sending out loyalty discounts to long-term subscribers. Or it might mean creating an autoresponder rule that sends out a special discount or other gift to individual subscribers on their sign-up anniversary.

Be creative. The incentive needs to be something special so that it not only encourages future sales but shows your subscribers that there is a good reason to stay on your email list.

Get Feedback from Your Customer Service Department

Your customer service department is ground zero for fielding your customer complaints.

If you want to improve the user experience for your site, promote brand loyalty, and encourage future sales, you need to find out what those complaints are and correct them.

You won’t be able to solve all of those issues with an email marketing campaign. However, you will be able to work on issues like company image and providing value for your customers.

Check Out Your Competitors

No matter what aspect of your marketing campaign you are working on, one of the best ways to find new, successful ideas is to spy on your competitors.

You should be subscribed to all your competitors’ email lists. Pay attention to everything your competitors are doing, from the kind of offers they provide for sign ups to the formatting of the newsletters they send out. You should be studying their campaign from A to Z and comparing it to your own every step of the way.

You may find that you are already doing some similar things, or you may find that some things your competitors are doing don’t really match your goals. Or you may feel that some of their strategies just fall flat.

You don’t need to copy your competitors wholesale. You just need to be aware of what they are doing so that you can create a strategy that meets the same level of quality and then exceeds it.

If you give your email strategy new life in 2016, you’ll soon start seeing the increase in traffic and sales that your business needs. Try these tips to help you develop a winning email strategy this year.