There is also what appears to be another version of the same article in MediaPost: ‘Five Tips For Building A Strong Email Marketing Foundation‘ on the same day by Steve Adams again but this seems a little easier to read.
They are quite basic but in my experience quite a few small businesses just go “let’s do some email marketing” allocate someone in the office to do it who has never done it and it doesn’t get done properly and just becomes an interruption rather than a communication tool.
It is vitally important to really have a good framework and perspective before you actually start sending emails. Seth Godin says that you should have a good story and be remarkable (Purple Cow). Whether or not you agree to that extent, you do need to have something to say and it really helps if your web-site can back you up. So many small businesses will not combine their web-site with their emails and put all of the content in a massive email and just link to the home page but sometimes that is better than nothing.
If you are a small business and you are just starting with email, this is useful, you might also want to check-out Jeanne Jennings (clickz) and Mark Brownlow (Email Marketing Reports) who are two of the most reliable sources of email marketing knowledge I have found in the last two years.