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Secrets To Email Marketing Success
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Secrets To Email Marketing Success


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  • 1. Secrets to Email Marketing Success Stephan Spencer President, Internet Concepts [email_address]
  • 2. Get Permission
    • Opt-in, not opt-out. Get recipient’s consent in advance!
      • Opt-in: recipient volunteered to receive your email
      • Opt-out: recipient didn’t have the opportunity to avoid receiving your first email, only to avoid receiving subsequent ones
    • “ Hand-raisers” are a lot more likely to not only tolerate receiving your emails, but also to respond favorably
    • Read Permission Marketing by Seth Godin
  • 3. Spam
    • Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE)‏
    • Typical spam has a bogus sender address, bogus unsubscribe instructions, and bogus offers
    • Spam is in the eye of the beholder
    • Ensure recipients don’t misconstrue your message as spam
  • 4. Distance Yourself from Spammers
    • Remind recipients that they’ve given you permission to contact them
    • Provide an easy way to unsubscribe
    • Be sure reply works
    • Have it signed by a real person
    • Publish and abide by a strict privacy policy
  • 5. Improve the Odds that a User Will Join Your List
    • Provide numerous opt-in opportunities all with low barriers to entry
    • Make sure the amount of work required to sign up is minimal
      • Many sites only require the email address and all other personal information is optional
    • Place the email list sign-up on all forms on your site, including inquiry, order, and feedback forms
      • Ok to have the sign-up checkbox ticked in advance?
  • 6. Privacy Policy
    • Builds trust
    • Address what you’ll be doing with the user’s information, both now and potentially in the future
    • Post it in an obvious place on your site
    • Link to it from your email campaigns
    • Abide by it, no exceptions
    • Don’t revoke or weaken it once you’ve published it (Remember the hot water Amazon got into?)‏
  • 7. Consequences of Spamming
    • “ Flames,” i.e. hate email
    • Harassment from spam vigilantes
    • Badmouthed in discussion forums
    • Blacklisted (SpamCop, etc.)‏
    • You may even have your Internet privileges revoked by your ISP
    • Remember, perception is 9/10ths of reality
  • 8. Deliver Value
    • Email should be relevant, timely, and beneficial
    • “ Value" can take the form of:
      • newsletters, discounts, contests, last minute availability, event reminders, invitations, prizes, memberships, bonuses, coupons/discounts, exclusive sales, free samples, or demos.
    • Surveys - give free report or enter them in a draw
    • Go paperless - specs, price lists, statements
  • 9. Types of Outbound Email
    • Newsletters
      • Regularly scheduled messages that deliver timely and interesting news, tips, and other informational tidbits
    • Promotional messages
      • Inform recipients about special offers
    • Discussion forum posts
      • Soft-sell marketing strategy for becoming an accepted and trusted member of your target audience’s online community
  • 10. Discussion Forum Posts
    • Discussion forums include Usenet newsgroups, email discussion lists (listservs), and web forums
    • Often overlooked by e-marketers
    • Key is to respect the forum’s non-commercial nature
    • Don’t blatantly advertise
      • Add value by answering questions in a vendor-neutral manner, then soft-sell solely through your "signature"
  • 11. Signature Line
    • At the bottom of your discussion post
    • Should be short - no more than 4 lines
    • Your name
    • Your company name
    • Your email address (include mailto: in front)‏
    • Link to your site (include http:// in front)‏
    • Your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)‏
  • 12. Components of an Email
    • Subject line
      • Most important ~35 characters of the email. Focus on it!
    • From line
    • To line
    • Message body
      • A promotional message should contain a compelling offer and a call-to-action
      • An e-mail newsletter should contain a header, a table of contents, a welcome, and multiple ‘departments’
      • Privacy statement, Disclaimer, and Unsubscribe instructions
  • 13. Measure Success
    • Unsubscribe rate
    • Bounce rate
    • Unique open rate
    • Total open rate
    • Clickthrough rate
      • Can separate HTML vs. plaintext clickthroughs
    • Conversion rate
  • 14. The Bane of the Email Marketer: the Delete Key
    • The split-second decision - keep it or delete it
    • The basis of their decision: the From and Subject line
    • Your open rate may be overstated
      • Your message may be getting displayed in recipient’s preview pane as he selects it just to delete it
  • 15. Frequency
    • Depends on expectations of target audience
    • Email newsletters tend to be weekly or monthly
    • Monitor number/variety of contacts to avoid burnout
  • 16. Timing
    • Tuesday through Thursday
    • 10am to 2pm
    • Varies depending on your audience
  • 17. Length
    • In general, keep it short and sweet. Use links.
    • Weekly newsletter should be no more than five sections, with three or fewer paragraphs each,
    • Monthly newsletter can be double or triple that.
    • Promotional messages should be significantly shorter than a newsletter.
    • Include whole articles or just abstracts with links to the rest?
  • 18. Spam Filters
    • Spam filters built in Outlook, Hotmail, AOL etc.
    • Corporate email firewalls
    • Don’t trip the spam filters
      • “ Free”, “opt-in”, “!!!”, “forward to a friend”, etc.
      • ‘ Bcc’
      • ‘ To’ line doesn’t include recipient’s email address
      • Scripts
      • Attachments
  • 19. HTML vs. Plain Text
    • HTML emails typically have twice the clickthroughs
    • HTML offers more control over layout
    • HTML looks more ‘polished’ (could be good or bad)‏
    • Some old email clients can’t do HTML, e.g. Outlook 95
    • “ Sniff” for HTML open or send multiple versions multi-part
    • Old versions of AOL only support a crippled form of HTML
  • 20. Plain Text Emails
    • Precede URLs with “http://” and emails with “mailto:”
    • Limit the line width to 65 characters
    • Headlines in ALL CAPS
      • Reading text in caps is very slow, because people read only the tops of letters. ALL CAPS letters don’t have enough differentiation to them
  • 21. HTML Emails
    • Tables - to control placement & avoid long lines
    • Graphics - <30k, will cause the recipient grief if reading email while offline, increases download time
    • Color - color text or color a table background, doesn’t impact download speed
    • Font - face, size, and color
    • Forms - embed in the email to make it easy for the recipient to respond to an offer, e.g. seminar registration
      • Auto fill-in as many form fields as possible
    • Scripts, Flash, Streaming Video - not recommended!
  • 22. Your Database
    • Collect more than just the email address
      • Name (first name should be a separate field)‏
      • Zip code, interests, and other relevant demographics
      • What else?
      • Also ask for info that you plan to use in the future
    • ‘ Text to Columns’ feature in Excel
    • In-house lists typically perform much better than purchased or rented lists
  • 23. Personalize
    • Tailor the offer to the individual. Beneficial offers are relevant offers
    • Provide customized content specific to recipient location and interests
    • Greet the recipient by first name. Perhaps even in the Subject line too.
    • To line should specify the recipient’s email address
    • Let the recipient control the contact frequency
    • Increases the likelihood of being at the right place at the right time with the right value proposition
  • 24. Segment Your List
    • By demographics, psychographics, clickographics (visiting behavior and transaction history)‏
    • Target who’s most relevant, most profitable, or most likely to respond
  • 25. Buy or Rent Lists?
    • Avoid the use of purchased lists
      • Many have actually been “harvested” from web pages, newsgroup discussion posts, or domain contact information (from the “whois” database) – without the knowledge or permission of the affected individuals
    • Rented lists from reputable list brokers may be worthwhile
      • Is it double opt-in, fastidiously clean of unsubscribes, and finely segmented?
  • 26. A Veritable List Goldmine
    • Email addresses of prospects, potential distributors and business partners, journalists
    • Member lists - associations, clubs, etc.
    • Find them with Google
    • Introduce yourself. Be personal and informal.
    • Careful! Potential spam territory
  • 27. Test, Test, Test!
    • Treat your email campaigns like experiments
    • Have a control group
    • Vary only one thing at a time
    • What to test?
      • The offer, the Subject line, the From line, the message copy, the layout, the message length, the timing, the contact frequency
  • 28. Test, Test, Test!
    • Track response rates of each test by making call-to-action URLs & e-mail addresses unique for each test group
    • Special attention should be given to the frequency
      • don't allow recipient burnout, particularly with a regular mailing such as an e-mail newsletter
    • Test and refine, test and refine
  • 29. Software and ASPs
    • Reduce the administrative headaches - the bounces and unsubscribe requests, the tracking, reporting, segmenting, and personalizing
      • Do-it-yourself software. e.g. WorldMerge (‏
      • Or outsource to an e-mail service bureau, e.g. MessageMedia ( or GravityMail (‏
  • 30. In Summary
    • Now you know how to get permission, build your database, personalize,segment, test, measure success
    • Newsletters vs. promotional campaigns
    • Frequency, length, content
    • The intricacies of HTML
  • 31. Further Reading
    • Successful Email Marketing by Debbie Mayo-Smith
    • Marketing With E-Mail by Shannon Kinnard
    • Permission Marketing by Seth Godin