Don't Just Pitch; Listen and Respond

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You have likely heard the statistics noting that spending on e-mail marketing is expected to approach $3 billion this year, a staggering figure considering the youth of this marketing medium.


Marketers are rushing to explore this tool that lets them reach customers in a more targeted and measurable way. But as use of this medium skyrockets, there are new issues to consider.


With a precision e-mail marketing approach, some lessons have been learned that all marketers must follow to maximize their profits.


Privacy advocacy groups are increasingly targeting companies that are spamming inboxes. Therefore, it is becoming more imperative to respect your audience's privacy by clearly letting users know that you are collecting information and how it will be used. E-mails sent without permission are a major concern to legitimate marketers. And if a previously interested e-mail recipient decides to opt out, make sure it happens.


Many e-mail marketers simply send out mail with an offer. By encouraging an ongoing dialogue with a customer, you can increase customer retention. Increase the relevance of the content and decrease the frequency of messages. This will help obtain higher open rates, higher responses to your call-to-action and, most importantly, happier recipients. The more value you give, the more value you get.


Ask each individual what information he is interested in receiving from you, and in what format, rather than guessing and risk sending an inappropriate message. HTML and rich media are excellent for many audiences, but plain text may be better for others, such as people who access their e-mail via slow dial-up lines.


Each interaction is a chance to learn something about your audience. Observe, measure and analyze how each individual reacts to your messages, and tailor your mailings to each person going forward. Every e-mail should be more relevant and effective than the previous one and should take you one step closer to your marketing objectives.


Technology is largely underused in e-mail, so take advantage of leading innovations such as custom publishing and rich media applications to create high-impact messages. Doing so will enable you to create dynamic e-mail messages for each individual, based on content rules created by the marketer.


Consumers have had it with retailers that ignore their e-mail requests for more information about products and services. Respond when the readers of your message hit the reply button. Too many marketers focus on crafting the perfect outbound message and neglect the replies. Be ready to handle responses as soon as you launch your campaign and answer every response within 24 hours.


Online retailers are struggling with abandoned shopping carts because they require too much click through to get to the initial offering. Make things easier for consumers. Minimize the number of clicks it takes to respond with a purchase or feedback or to find additional related information.


When you set up links in the e-mail, don't just send people to your home page. Send them to more content-specific micro-sites or to a page on your current site that is relevant to your message and where your customers can immediately find what they are looking for. This may also mean linking the offer to a purchase at a bricks-and-mortar site.


When used effectively, e-mail can be a powerful relationship-building medium. Resist the urge to make every e-mail message a hard-core sales pitch. Make sure that your revenue-generating offers are mixed with a healthy dose of relevant information, helpful advice and requests for feedback. The more value you deliver to your users, the more value they will deliver back to you.


E-mail is different from any other form of direct marketing. It is totally measurable. Track beyond the first click.


E-mail marketing effectiveness is not just about click-through rates; it is about conversion - whether that be a purchase, a registration, a referral or a request for more information.


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