Four tactics for flawless e-mail marketing plans

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1.   Determine a purpose

For an effective e-mail plan, list your marketing goals, then identify which type of e-mail can help you reach each goal.

“The key to determining the purpose for your e-mail is to first outline your core business objectives — exactly what you need to accomplish from a business perspective — and then tie these goals to potential programs and prioritize,” says Nick Einstein, director of strategic and analytic services at Datran Media.

Examine how newsletters, promotional e-mails and other tactics hold hidden potential. For example, a transactional e-mail can help reach your goal of tactfully upselling products.

“Start with the programs that will most positively impact your core goals, and work from there,” adds Einstein.

2.   Test for perfect timing

The beauty of e-mail is that you can execute campaigns in real time. The best way for marketers to figure out how often to send and when to send campaigns is by A/B testing.

“The best frequency for messaging is determined by individual recipients,” says Kevin Senne, director of deliverability and Internet service provider (ISP) relations at Responsys. “Allow customers to decide how often they would like to receive messages. Test frequency and study complaint and unsubscribe statistics to determine what the best cadence is for your particular message streams.”

3.   Avoid the spam box

Deliverability is critical in e-mail marketing. To avoid the spam filters, keep a clean list and sign up for feedback loops from the ISPs to learn what works and what doesn't.

“If you are just beginning to e-mail from a new IP address, be careful to warm up the ISPs by metering mail quantities. This may take a little time, but they'll be less likely to block your mail if you don't hit them with large quantities all at once,” says Arthur Middleton Hughes, director of strategy and subscriber acquisition at e-Dialog.

A clean list helps protect you from the hazards of sending to expired e-mail addresses.

“For marketers with older lists, the biggest threats are spam traps that are often triggered by old, inactive e-mail addresses,” says Hughes. “To guard against these traps, marketers should pay close attention to the behavior of subscribers, put a lapsed e-mail strategy into place and suppress non-responders.”

4.   Optimize the list

Keeping clean data improves deliverability, but also can ensure that your mailings are targeted at consumers who are actively engaged and interested in hearing from you.

Remove consumers who haven't engaged with your brand in more than a year. Clean your lists across channels. Beware of renting lists — consumer permission is required.

“We start any new client with a small test of 1,000 and track the bounce rate and spam complaint rate from the first send,” says Paul Rosenblum, VP of products and strategy at MyBuys. “If both rates are within our safe limits, we broaden the volume in steps over several weeks, using a percentage increment based on the bounce and spam rate. We opt-out all the bounce backs immediately, not only from the specific client's list but also from all the clients on our network.”

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