DM News' Essential Guide to E-Mail Marketing: 10 Tips to Improve Response

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"What response rate can I expect from this e-mail campaign?"

This is the most common question I get when working with a client for the first time. There is no exact answer because every campaign has its own variables: company name recognition, e-mail offer, time/date, competition and so on. Here are 10 tips to a more successful e-mail campaign and higher response rates:

Establish a realistic goal. What are you looking to get from the campaign? E-mail always has been about capturing a lead. Keep it simple and be realistic.

Know the list's audience. Take time to understand the type of audience you want to reach. Let's use a publication as an example. Whom does the publication target? What questions are asked on the qualification card? What types of companies advertise in the publication? How often is it sent?

Run counts. Request the perfect market that you want to target. Be prepared to change things if you need to keep costs down. The more selects you choose, the more the e-mail campaign will cost. A tip here is to rank your selects from most important to least important. Use the three most important.

Get price quotes. Always know what your final cost is going to be before testing. Ensure your vendor details everything so there are no surprises in the invoice.

Understand your competition. What are your competitors doing? Are they renting this list? Ask your vendor for usage on the list to see what mailers have tested and continued.

E-mail format. Supply the vendor with HTML and text copy. This will give people who can't receive HTML a chance to receive your message. Also, most vendors can send your copy through a scoring system to identify words that may trigger your e-mail being thrown into a junk mail box.

CAN-SPAM compliance. Include your opt-out information and corporate address in the body of the e-mail. Always maintain your opt-out file. It's the law.

Test different subject lines. This is what grabs the reader. Be creative.

Open rate. When e-mailing in HTML, request that the open rate be monitored. It will give you great insight on how many people were interested in reading what you had to say.

Cost per click. Try looking at this formula: total cost divided by the number of clicks, rather than click-through rate. Though it may look good to have a high number of clicks, we need to ask ourselves what did we pay for this blast? The lower the cost per click, the better.

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