The R's of e-mail marketing success

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Teaching the masses the three R's - reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic - transformed America into a world economic power. Similarly, educating marketers on the "R's of e-mail" can transform so-so programs into ones that deliver the biggest R of all: ROI.

Here are eight R's for e-mail marketing success.

Requested
A successful e-mail program starts with a list of subscribers who ask to hear from you. Make sure you send e-mails that are requested by recipients: always get explicit permission, use a double opt-in process and resist such tactics as pre-checking boxes on registration forms.

Relationship
E-mail marketing is about building long-term relationships. With each e-mail you send, you either build trust or destroy it. Greet new users with a welcome e-mail that sets expectations around frequency and content, encourages feedback and invites them to manage your relationship through preference centers.

Reputation
ISPs use your reputation to determine where to deliver your message: the inbox, the bulk folder or a black hole. Authenticate your e-mails and maintain a solid sender reputation through consistent list hygiene and minimizing spam complaints.

Received
It's obvious that if your e-mail is not received in the inbox, it has little chance of being read. Monitor your deliverability rates and watch for red flags such as a dirty list, funky HTML coding and spammy content.

Rendering
Design your e-mail so it renders correctly, and avoid the double whammy effect of subscribers using preview panes and blocking images. Convey your message with text and don't depend solely on large, pretty images that many recipients won't actually see.

Relevance
Give recipients a reason to read your e-mails by sending well-designed, well-written and relevant content that meets their needs. Learn what they want, and segment lists based on behavior such as clicked links, purchases, RFM or actions they've taken on the site.

Reporting
Process metrics, like open, click-through and bounce rates provide insight into your e-mail program but are of little value to your CEO. Measure performance against your company's business goals, such as revenue, leads and brand impact, then report how e-mail contributes to the success of the marketing mix.

Resources
Many companies lack budget and resources such as dedicated e-mail marketing specialists who understand e-mail and privacy laws, implement best practices and drive sophisticated programs using dynamic content and Web analytics-driven segmentation. Build the right team or leverage outside experts to consistently deliver phenomenal e-mail ROI.

Put the R's of e-mail marketing to work, and make your e-mail marketing program more strategic, results-oriented and effective.

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