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Ten Steps to E-Mail Marketing Success

With most e-mail marketers busy dispersing new promotional content, there is seldom time for considering the long view. Concentration on the here and now means that important issues, which can improve success and profits, are put aside for a later time – a time which may never arrive.
In this highly competitive world of e-mail marketing, those with the most successful long-term strategies will have a higher boost to their bottom line. Here are 10 strategic issues that e-mail marketers should think seriously about as they face the future.

Acquiring more subscribers. The success of any e-mail marketing program is largely based on the size and composition of its audience. A strategy review of current methods can produce tactics that will boost profits derived from any e-mail marketing program. Examples of such tactics include:
· Review of the position and wording of e-mail acquisition encouragement on the Web site and in transactional e-mails.

· Rewards and incentives for Web visitors and product purchasers.
· Rewards and incentives to employees for capturing visitor and customer e-mails.
· Appending e-mail addresses to offline buyer records, followed by opt-in e-mails.
· Sending postcards to undelivered subscribers – many of whom have changed e-mail addresses, but still want to hear from the client.

Reducing the level of unsubscribes. Subscriber’s inboxes are overflowing as more and more e-mails are being sent, resulting in unsubscribes and undelivers from legitimate marketers. Some tactics that reduce the unsubscribe level are giving unsubscribers a choice in future frequency, or in classification of content. Many unsubscribers will be glad to tell you why they stopped the flow of correspondence. Such analysis can be used for developing corrective measures.

Improving the transactional e-mail process. Transactional messages have the highest open rate of any e-mail communication – far higher than promotional e-mails. For this reason they can be the most profitable communications if they include appropriate product offers below the fold. Shifting to HTML for transactional e-mails is often an internal political problem, since they often come from IT, the shipping department, or customer service, which are often not equipped to produce them. Marketers should study the situation in their company, estimate the costs and benefits of a change, and work to make the necessary improvements.

Sending triggered e-mails. Triggers are based on events related to particular subscribers: a birthday, the anniversary of a previous purchase, or the achievement of a purchasing level (Gold, Silver, Platinum, etc.). These e-mails are highly opened and read as their subject lines are targeted to the particular interest of the subscriber.

Testing. Testing can be used to experiment with different frequencies, particular messages for segments, the effectiveness of rewards and pricing, etc. In most cases, testing yields surprising results that beat the conventional wisdom, without disrupting the flow of revenue and profits, and help to improve the overall effectiveness of e-mail marketing.
Boosting relevance. Relevance today is calculated on a numerical scale with values for segmentation, personalization, triggers, interactivity and lifecycle management. Many e-mail marketers have already calculated their own score, but still need to take action to make their e-mails more relevant in order to keep subscribers.

Using analytics. Some clients have hundreds of thousands of subscribers who never buy anything during a year, with only a few thousand who do all the buying. Yet, they continue to send identical e-mails to both groups. Buyers are not individually recognized, rewarded, or thanked to assure their continued loyalty. Analytics help in identifying buyers by status level, determine the cost and benefit of segmentation, the value of buyers who become lost through unsubscribes, and other programs for improving buyer retention.

Loyalty programs. Is it profitable and cost-effective to enroll subscribers in Internet-based loyalty programs? What benefits can be offered to loyalty program members? How much more will they open, click, and buy? How much less likely are they to unsubscribe? Each e-mail marketer has to think about these questions to see if a loyalty program would boost retention and revenue.

Building offline sales. Most e-mail marketing programs are measured based on online sales alone. However, e-mail often leads subscribers to visit offline stores or catalog desks buying far more of a client’s products than they do through the Internet. How can these offline sales be measured, and attributed back to the e-mail marketing program? How can e-mail be structured to boost offline activity? Marketers have to find ways to measure the effectiveness of their e-mail on offline sales, and reorganize e-mails to focus on that aspect of revenue.

Determining the right frequency. When frequency of e-mail campaigns goes up, revenue often does also. Unfortunately, so do unsubscribes, undelivers and spam reporting. As a result, profits may go down. Marketers have to think about how they can design programs that permit increased frequency for many subscribers, without losing valuable buyers who may be turned off by what they consider to be too much e-mail.
Arthur Middleton Hughes .Published in January 20, 2009

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Arthur Middleton Hughes has published over 200 articles on Database and E-mail Marketing. Click Here to read them.

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