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Monday, May 10, 2010

10 Secrets Of Successful Email Marketing - Part I

There is no question as to the marketing viability of email: It is fast, cost-effective and you get real-time data from which you can assess and adjust your future campaigns. There is hardly any other marketing medium that comes close to email marketing for reaching the consumer directly, while allowing personalization of this communication.

However, just like every marketing medium, email has its own unique challenges - such as differentiating yourself from spammers, deliverability and getting your subscriber’s attention above the noise found in the typical inbox today. Therefore, as an email marketer you have to fight on two fronts: getting your email to the inbox and keeping the subscriber interested enough to open your emails and respond to them. On the brighter side, if you follow the 10 “secrets” below you will easily cruise ahead of your competition that pays little attention to these strategies.

1. Be in tune with your readers

Your subscribers chose to join your list because they wanted specific content from you (most likely a special offer) and they expect you to deliver that information. If the content in your email matches that expectation, then you are more likely to retain your subscribers and build a relationship with them. If you simply send emails with information you want to promote, then you will isolate your subscribers and risk losing them. Don’t believe me? Check out this article by eMarketer that shows that 41% of US Internet users threatened to stop buying from companies that send them irrelevant messages. "Room for Improvement in E-mail Opt-Outs"

2. Flash your badge

Spammers can easily imitate your emails by spoofing the from and subject lines in phishing attempts. Citibank, eBay and Wells Fargo can all attest to that. What spammers wouldn’t be privy to is your customer’s personal information. So if you fail to personalize your emails and use a generic salutation such as “Dear Subscriber,” you risk having your customers question the validity of your email, possibly even trashing it before they open it. Show your reader you know them by including their name and other information that only you would know (i.e. the last four digits of their account or a product they have bought from you). By identifying yourself to your customers and demonstrating that you know their details shared with you at signup, you can earn their trust, and therefore, their readership.

3. Use a professional email service

Like mailing packages, you can choose from free to the most expensive packaging. The real cost may be that your items do not make it to the intended address intact. The same holds true for emails: You may choose to use anything from free scripts, available online, to a professional email service provider. But if the success of your email marketing is important to you, then you would not want to gamble with unreliable email methods. You should find a company that provides the advanced features that would allow you to maximize the returns on your email marketing efforts.

4. Remember your medium

Keep in mind how the general public uses email. Email is a very personal medium and it wasn’t invented to send marketing messages. The way you write an email to a friend is different in tone to how you would write a cover letter to a company. All that to say: Readers expect a different type and style of language in an email than, say, a formal letter. If you can lighten the style of your normal company communication to be more conversational, friendly and, most importantly, helpful, then it will be easier to connect on a personal level. Don’t go overboard though: get too friendly or act like the reader is your buddy and they will see right through this and feel patronized.

5. Find a balance between promotion and content

Most likely you are using email marketing to not only brand your company and provide useful information, but also to make sales. This means that at some point you will make offers to your subscribers. The big question is: How often should you send promotional emails, compared to pure informational content? Of course, the answer to this question will depend on what you promised the customer at the time they subscribed. If your reader opted in to receive weekly specials, then there should be no guilty feeling about sending weekly promotional emails. But if you promised information, then you should be judicious in the number of purely promotional emails you send out.

There are still 5 more secrets, including some of the most important, so be sure to come back in 2 days for part II.

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