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38 facts and tips for successful e-mail marketing.

Hugh Furneaux, president of the Toronto-based and award-winning (see p. 6) Ariad Custom Communications, says Empact, "Email Marketing News," is the company's new e-mail newsletter. Its "marketing objective is to position Ariad as an authority in this rapidly growing area." Empact is also the name of Ariad's e-mail marketing service.

Furneaux also provided The Newsletter on Newsletters with a long list of facts and tips regarding e-mail marketing (with only a minimum of plugs for an outside service agency such as his). This list should help you develop and fine-tune your e-mail promotions.

What's propelling e-mail marketing

* According to Forrester Research, the e-mail marketing industry is expected to grow to almost $5 billion by 2004, from $26 million in 1996.

* In 2000, 2 percent of advertising dollars was allocated to e-mail marketing. By 2003 that is expected to reach 11 percent.

* The best applications for e-mail marketing involve communication with existing customers, not acquiring new customers.

* E-mail was the preferred primary communication vehicle for business in 1999 (Roger Starch Worldwide), ahead of telephone and way ahead of postal mail. In addition, 96 percent say e-mail is the most indispensable part of the internet.

The right format

* Currently there are three main message formats--plain text, rich text (HTML), and AOL.

* Rich text e-mails generate higher response rates. However, in 2000, only about 50 percent of recipients have e-mail software that can read them. So, to get 100 percent coverage you need to always have a plain text version of your message.

* There are many more AOL subscribers in the U.S. than in Canada. Estimates vary that between 25 and 30 percent of American internet users subscribe to AOL. If you market to Americans as well as to Canadians, you would do best to include this message format as part of your campaign.

* There is a fourth message format that is coming on strong: rich media, which can incorporate audio, video, and animation.

Building an e-mail list

* For best results, concentrate on building your own list rather than renting permission-based lists.

* Obtain e-mail addresses of your customers from a variety of sources--registration windows on your web site, direct mail, or invitations to subscribe from your sales staff.

* Providing customers with an explicit benefit or offering a small incentive to respond will accelerate the process.

* For maximum response, when you ask your prospect to subscribe or opt-in, limit the request for personal information to only first name, last name, and e-mail address. Delay the collection of further demographic information.

* Always tell your customers why you are asking for their email address. Experience shows they are more willing to share that information if they know how it will be used.

* IMT Strategies research indicates that 79 percent of e-mail users prefer opt-in e-mail to the opt-out option.

* Since e-mail addresses can change frequently, carefully track the number of bounce-backs or undeliverable e-mails after each campaign. If you outsource your e-mail marketing, make sure your supplier's reporting system has this feature. This will help you maintain the integrity of your e-mail list.

The privacy issue

* E-mail is considered a personal communication channel. If your e-mail communication is perceived as exploiting the privileged business-to-customer relationship, you can expect a hostile reaction.

* You must develop a concise and unequivocal privacy and/or permission statement that outlines exactly how you will treat your customers' personal information.

* A good privacy policy should state: 1) What information is gathered or tracked; 2) What the company does with the information that is gathered or tracked; 3) With whom the company shares information gathered or tracked; 4) The opt-out policy; 5) The policy on correcting and updating personally identifiable information; and 6) How the recipient can delete or deactivate his or her name from the company's database.

* To see an example of what a good privacy statement should be, go to www.ariad-ltd.com/empact/permissionpolicy.html.

* Include a link to your privacy and/or permission policy on every e-mail you send out.

* Have your privacy statement written from a marketing, not legal, point of view. One survey learned that almost two-thirds of its respondents found currect privacy statements difficult to read.

How to write effective e-mail messages

* The most important element is to be clear who the e-mail is from. The messages that your customers open will only be those that are seen or known to be relevant.

* The more you can personalize the "From" part of your e-mail, the better. "From: Bill Sweet-tooth, President, Supersnacks.com" is better than "From: Supersnacks.com."

* The Subject Line--which is the most important element of your e-mail after the "From"-- must contain a clear benefit that motivates the e-mail recipient to open the message. Essentially, it must convey an answer to the question, "What's in it for me?"

* Be honest in the Subject Line about what's inside. The benefit you promise must have substance. E-mail is a matter of trust--if you abuse the trust, you may not ever be able to regain it.

* The traditional magic word of direct mail-FREE--has diminished value in e-mail. Red flags now go up when this word is used in a Subject Line.

* The best way to deliver relevant e-mails is to ask your customers what they want to hear about from you--what topics, products, or services. This can be set up at the time your customer opts in to receive your e-mail messages.

* At the very least, personalize each message. And even better than personalizing, deliver a message that's relevant to your customer. This means you may not want to send the same message to everyone.

* Variable messaging based on client preferences and profile is best done through an outside e-mail service provider.

How to design an e-mail

* For plain text messages, use lots of white space. Make everything easy to read on a screen.

* Avoid ALL CAPS. Copy is much harder to read when it is in all caps. If you must use them, use them sparingly for emphasis.

* Avoid Italics. Italic type is hard to read on screen.

* Keep columns of type narrow for easy scanability.

* For rich text messages, be sure that your e-mail doesn't look too much like a web page. This confuses recipients into thinking they are at your web page.

* Test your messages through numerous e-mail accounts. Each type of e-mail client displays messages differently. Be sure to test your messages to ensure they look good through all the mainstream e-mail clients.

How to know what works

* One of the major benefits of e-mail marketing is that you can track results. Of the e-mails you send, you can determine how many are opened, and how many links are followed.

* Some messaging systems can track and report on a lot more than just opens and click-throughs. If you are interested in more sophisticated reporting features, like purchase tracking, speak with a high-end service provider.

* The current rule of thumb is that you should be able to get 90 percent of your campaign results within 48 hours.
COPYRIGHT 2001 The Newsletter on Newsletters LLC
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Jan 31, 2001
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