Panelists Offer 50 E-Mail Tactics in 50 Minutes

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NEW YORK -- Want to avoid being labeled a spammer? Scouring self-appointed spam cops from your list can help.


That was one of 50 rapid-fire tips to more effective e-mail marketing offered by a panel of experts at the AIM/DMA net.marketing conference here yesterday.


E-mail addresses with the word "spam" in them or the e-mail list owner's name in it are a sign that someone has signed up for a list solely to monitor it, said Ian Oxman, vice president of e-mail consulting and business development, Rapp Digital, New York.


"IanSpamOxman@Hotmail.com, for example," he said.


He added that cleaning e-mail lists of bad or undeliverable addresses can help marketers avoid being treated like spammers by Internet service providers. Oxman said ISPs are beginning to identify marketers who try to send a lot of undeliverable mail.


"You may find an ISP blocking you simply because they're tired of accepting your dirty mail," he said.


Other tips included establishing goals upfront and focusing.


"The biggest problem marketers have is focus," said Al DiGuido, CEO, Bigfoot Interactive, New York. "Marketers try and do too many things with one e-mail."


Marketers should think of e-mail as a program rather than as a campaign, he said.


"Customer retention doesn't happen one shot at a time," he said.


Integration is also key to successful e-mail marketing, DiGuido said.


"E-mail does not live in a vacuum," he said. "None of us here believes that direct mail is going away. The consumer today is a multichannel consumer."


Indeed, the concept of integration, which has recently gained renewed popularity with marketers, came up repeatedly in the presentation.


Oxman, for example, recommended gathering postal addresses with e-mail addresses.


"Once you have the postal addresses, there are places where you can go to append demographic data," he said. "This creates an opportunity for integrated marketing."


And the company's "voice" should be consistent across all channels, said Jeanniey Mullen, chief marketing officer of Aliso Viejo, CA-based MindArrow Systems.


"You spend a lot of money on your brand, and that should come across in [e-mail] copy and content," she said.


Mullen offered a "three-second rule" for e-mail marketers: "If it doesn't make sense to a consumer or business constituent in three seconds, then it doesn't make sense to use."


She also advocated maximizing so-called zero-click commerce when possible, explaining that just a few extra clicks results in serious attrition.


"Enable people to do whatever you can inside the e-mail," she said. "Make sure you maximize the time with your customer."


One of e-mail's key advantages over direct mail is that the marketer controls the delivery timing, said Oxman, adding, "Make that your friend."


He recommended asking recipients when they want to receive e-mail.


"If people say they want their e-mail on Tuesday, and you send it on Tuesday, that may be the single biggest thing you can do to lift click-through rates," Oxman said.


In the case of company e-mail newsletters, Oxman recommended getting permission from recipients to include advertising, creating the opportunity to sell space ads to non-competing companies or swap ads with them.


"It's a way to turn your e-mail newsletter from a cost center to a profit center," he said.


Oxman also recommended monitoring open rates to see whether recipients are ready to opt out.


"When someone gets tired of your e-mail, they simply start ignoring it," he said.


Testing, especially subject lines, is also key, Mullen said.


"You can't guess what's going to motivate your consumers," she said, adding "subject lines that identify what's in it for you [the recipient] generally work well."


Panelists said a copy of all 50 tips would be posted on the Association for Interactive Marketing's Web site at InteractiveMarketing.org. However, they weren't up last night. A spokesman for Bigfoot said they would probably be up in a few days.


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