Five e-mail marketing rules to remember

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Marketers are looking to reach their prospects and customers more cost-effectively than ever, and that's good news for e-mail marketers. But with this opportunity comes challenges.

Inbox competition is growing and over-messaged recipients are more selective than ever.  Internet service providers (ISPs) are increasingly vigilant, ready to blacklist offenders.  The need to plan, create and maintain smart e-mail campaigns isn't an option anymore. It's a matter of survival.  Following these five rules can help you survive these challenges, while creating valued relationships:

Watch the volume. Marketers need to resist the temptation to overuse e-mail.  Forrester Research cites that 77% of consumers are annoyed with the volume of e-mail they receive today. Too much e-mail can lead to consumer fatigue and erode e-mail effectiveness. Conversely, don't e-mail so infrequently that they don't know who you are. Keep a regular and ongoing relationship with your subscribers.

Respect customers' different needs and interests. Find relevant ways to communicate with your customers and to stand out from the crowd. Remember to send relevant, valuable and timely information and offers, pay attention to messages viewed on mobile devices, segment lists to best match your customers' needs, leverage triggered (automated) e-mails to enhance personalized, customized customer communications, and use transactional e-mails (welcome letters, receipts, confirmations, etc.) as an additional mechanism to build customer rapport.

Be campaign-conscious. Remember to provide consistent messaging across all your communications channels. E-mail should be one element of your marketing mix. Reinforcing messages across multiple channels will boost overall campaign effectiveness.

Remember the Basics. Don't forget the nuts and bolts of smart and effective e-mail marketing — everything from using permission-based lists and good list hygiene to using clear, valuable subject lines and solid design and messages.

Test your messages before you send, and maintain good relationships with the ISPs. Even if something worked in the past, it isn't guaranteed to continue delivering the same results. Measure the success of your campaigns. Take advantage of reporting and data analysis beyond the inbox. Test and innovate to make sure your e-mail campaigns continue to grow positive results.

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