Seven lessons in seven years in E-Mail marketing

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Call it a seven-year itch, but I think it's high time for a look back at my time in e-mail marketing and reflect on what I have learned. What follows are some pearls I pass along to clients when appropriate.

Pay attention to the subject line

This medium has been around for about nine years and marketers continually make this the last minute, throw something-together part of the campaign and it ends up being flat.

Advice: State a benefit to the receiver in the subject line.

Always test something û anything

Audience? Test different targets/segments or different list sources. Offer? White paper versus free consultation, free shipping versus percent off. Creative? Subject lines.

Advice: Create a test matrix that maintains a constant while testing variables.

Have support systems and long-term plans in place before sending the e-mail

Can your site handle the traffic that day? Is the registration page functioning? What is the process the leads will encounter to maximize conversion rates?

Advice: Think like a boy scout and be prepared.

Make time and leave time

Many marketers who use e-mail marketing attempt to create a mind-blowing campaign out of last minute planning. I estimate that 50 percent of all campaigns I've worked on have endured 11th hour changes that has caused delays (copy, expired offer, new target added, etc.)

Advice: At minimum, leave six weeks to be sure you create a solid e-mail campaign that complements your complete marketing strategy and allows time for unexpected delays.

Use an experienced list broker

A broker is worth its weight and will supply you a thorough selection of lists, its experience with the lists, ensure you are CAN-SPAM compliant, run your creative through anti-spam filters and provide accurate reporting on opens and clicks (in some cases, conversions where after the click tracking is possible).

Advice: Ask fellow marketers for their recommendation.

Have one clear call to action

Many marketers try to fit in many objectives to an e-mail.

Advice: Focus on one call to action per message and no more than five links.

Use e-mail for good

This is a terrific tactic that can be cost effective if done correctly. Be careful about over mailing as it not only hurts your brand but it also hurts the medium. Those are the biggies from my experience in e-mail marketing over the past seven years. We'll see if it takes another seven to see me again in these pages.

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