Three tips for breaking through inbox clutter

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It's that time of year again. Online retailers are ramping up their e-mail deployment schedules for the holiday season, which means over-crowded consumer inboxes. Here are some things that marketers can do to stand out from the crowd, according to Ross Kramer, CEO of Listrak, an e-mail marketing service provider.

Be relevant. The best way to cut through the clutter is to avoid adding more noise. Use your data, from purchase history, customer preferences and behavior to ensure you're sending relevant messages to your customers at the right time. The easiest way to control deployment is to automate campaigns or allow subscribers to opt-in to special holiday campaigns that are separate from your regular e-mail initiatives.

Use cross-channel promotions. The inbox is cluttered, so branch out. To maximize sales, communicate with customers across multiple channels – mobile messaging, social networks, online and print ads, but be consistent. You can use a different voice, but be sure that the main message, prices, dates and offers remain the same. Your multi-channel campaigns should support each other, not contradict or confuse the customer, he says.

Engage your customers; don't overload them. More than 83% of top online retailers increased e-mail volume during the 2009 holiday season, with each retailer sending an average of 14.3 e-mails to subscribers during November and December. However, over-communicating with your customers can be detrimental if you inadvertently train them to tune out the messages or cause cross-channel confusion. You must take into consideration the number of times people are hearing from you across all channels. Campaigns cannot exist in a vacuum; you must control the cadence and relevance of all of your communications. Remember to pay close attention to e-mail best practices to ensure improved deliverability and open rates.

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