We don’t need to tell you the importance of e-mail to your marketing and sales efforts. (Because it’s so key, we recently launched an e-newsletter, Magilla Marketing, exclusively about it.) And you’re also no doubt aware of the continuing challenges to maximizing the effectiveness of the medium. To help you get the most from your e-mail campaigns, EmailLabs (www.emaillabs.com), a Menlo Park, CA-based technology provider, has created a list of “must-dos” for 2006:
1) Get relevant via personalization and segmentation. EmailLabs views this as the most important means of improving the effectiveness of your marketing e-mails: “It is crucial that companies begin the process, even if it is simply personalizing the content of the subject line or sending modified e-mails to a couple of different segments of their list. Once the process is started, companies can then work toward the promised land of dynamic content and life-cycle-based messaging.”
2) Resolve or minimize deliverability and rendering issues. “Marketers must send precampaign test messages to uncover delivery problems before sending their actual message to recipients and monitor results after each message to spot ISP blocking, filtering, and being on antispam blacklists. They should test their e-mail messages in different e-mail clients (Outlook, Lotus Notes, AOL, and Web clients like Hotmail/MSN, Gmail and Yahoo!) and platforms (PC and Macintosh) and correct problems.”
3) Redesign messages to render properly and be easily read and acted on in a world of preview panes and blocked images. This entails redesigning message templates so that key information is presented in the top two to four inches and using fewer images that may be blocked by ISPs or e-mail client.
4) Engage new readers from the get-go. According to EmailLabs, e-mail performance declines most significantly two months after recipients opt in to a list.
5) Get permission. “Permission-based e-mail is becoming the acknowledged standard in the industry, and companies that send unsolicited email can expect deliverability problems and greatly risk damaging their brand and losing customers.”
6) Focus on metrics that matter. “Instead of worrying about open and click-through rates…focus on tracking conversion rates, revenue per e-mail, whether specific desired actions were taken, etc.”
7) Take better care of long-term subscribers. Up to half of a company’s e-mail list is likely to be inactive, according to EmailLabs, so “marketers need to take multiple steps to wake up these dormant subscribers.”
8) Integrate e-mail into your search engine marketing programs. For instance, use an e-mail offer as a secondary objective on landing pages.
9) Test everything: format, design, copy, calls to action, subject lines, offers, personalization, content types…
10) Develop an e-mail marketing plan that clearly demonstrates to management its value and ROI.