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E-mail Marketing 101

jones-ron
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E-mail marketing is a cost-effective way to communicate. Your business will benefit if you use it correctly. When you market via e-mail, you need to comply with federal regulations that affect all commercial enterprises.

E-mail Marketing Providers

Helpful Metrics
  • Who has opened the message.
  • Who has "clicked" and what they've looked at.
  • Who has opted out (and legally shouldn't receive further e-mails).
  • E-mail addresses which are no longer valid or "bounced back."
  • Messages that have been trapped in spam filters.

One question that confronts most people is if they should use an e-mail marketing provider. If your business just sends out e-mails via Microsoft Outlook or another e-mail program you may be missing out on certain statistics and tools that help you manage your e-mail campaign.

There are several advantages of using an e-mail marketing provider. The first of which are metrics and analytics reports.

These tools give campaign managers the information they need to determine performance and where improvements need to be made. Additionally, built in tools help you craft your e-mails to comply with existing spam regulations.

There are many good e-mail providers to look at. A couple you may want to look at to get you started on your search would be iContact and Constant Contact.

Where do you get a Database to Market to?

Looking to build a database of targeted e-mail addresses? The best place to start is your current information on existing customers or known prospects. If you don't have access to this resource, then you need to build one from scratch.

You have a couple of options here. You can buy or rent lists from specialist providers. Renting is less expensive in the short term, but remember these contacts are never actually owned by your business. This approach doesn't work for everyone.

Another option is to buy a list or two to get started and send out a promotion where people come to your site and "opt in" to a new e-mail database that will contain individuals who are now interested in your products or services. Then, through other campaigns and other marketing efforts, continue growing your list that you now own.

E-mail Frequency -- How Often Should you Send out E-mail?

Typically, people who have opted in to your e-mail campaign will probably stay loyal to you if you don't bombard them with too many e-mails. Over-mailing your subscribers can turn them off.

Monitor your unsubscribed count after each blast. Slow down your frequency if you see many subscribers bailing out. As a general rule, no more than once a week is a good place to start. Adjust accordingly.

Consider testing your responses before you send an e-mail to your entire database. Select a small sample of subscribers to do a test push and check for responses.

Spam -- E-mail Compliance

E-mail Rules
  • Unsolicited commercial e-mail messages must be labeled.
  • Unsolicited commercial e-mail messages must include opt-out instructions.
  • Unsolicited e-mails must include the sender's physical address.
  • The CAN-SPAM Act prohibits the use of deceptive subject lines and false headers.
  • The FTC is authorized (but not required) to establish a "do-not-e-mail" registry.

So what happens when the fine line between requested marketing e-mails and unsolicited messages (spam) is crossed? The consequences can and have led to upset customers -- and even lawsuits.

Laws are still catching up with the technology, but you should be aware of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. Many states also have laws that govern e-mail advertising, so investigate these before doing an e-mail blast.

Familiarize yourself with these regulations before developing your campaign to ensure you don't fall into any legal traps.

The Landing Page Should fit the E-mail and the Offer

Make sure to lead your reader to the right destination through the links provided in the message. People hate wasting their time, and if this happens even once, you stand the risk of losing credibility.

By tailoring your landing page for links, you also make better use of your Web site to further engage the customer's interest.

How to Use Graphics

Many people like to get their e-mails in a text format. So if you plan to use images you should consider those who prefer text.

If you decide to use images, label each image so that those who receive e-mails as text can make sense of the message. Images should also complement your message content, not take away from it. Also remember that a large image can push content below the fold and large images can slow message loading.

Social Media and E-mail Marketing

The messages you send out to your subscribers could be of interest to others. If your subscribers feel the information is valuable they will likely share it with their friends. Don't underestimate the use of social media as an adjunct to your e-mail marketing campaign.

Also, be prepared for any responses generated from your e-mail marketing campaign. Small companies can easily become overwhelmed with responses and not have the resources to respond in a timely manner. It's important to anticipate demand and plan accordingly.

Make sure you learn from your campaigns. Not all will be successful, but pay attention to how customers respond and update campaigns accordingly to improve each time.

Feel free to share your success stories below and any other tips that have worked for you.


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