Monday, October 09, 2006

The 5 Cardinal Sins of Email Marketing

by: Robert Burko

One of the most frequent questions my customers ask me is "What should I do to make sure my email marketing campaign is a success?" My answer is always different, depending on the client's industry, campaign goal, and many other factors. But in today's e-marketing landscape, there are a few pointers that stand true for any client, a few things that can really make or break an email campaign.

You could overlook these, and you'll still have an email campaign. But if you're stuck wondering why your email messages are yielding little to no response, you may want to take a closer look and consider if you're commiting any of these 5 email marketing sins:

1. When new subscribers sign up, I should treat them just like my old subscribers.

One of the most overlooked aspects of email marketing is the welcome message, or the message your subscribers receive as soon as they sign up for your email list. The welcome message is your first opportunity to connect one-on-one with your subscribers. Think of it as your first impression, since this is the very first of, hopefully, many email messages you'll be sending them. Of course, you want to make a good first impression: be courteous, friendly and very mindful of your audience. Make sure to remind them of the benefits of signing up, include links to your website and tell your readers how to get a hold of you if they need. It's also important to ensure the welcome message arrives shortly (if not immediately) after the recipient signs up. So your best bet here is to choose an email service provider that sends automatic welcome messages to your subscribers on your behalf. Some of the top email programs will allow you to fully customize your welcome message, so it reads, looks and feels just like your company.

2. All my subscribers are the same, so I should just send the same messages to all of them.

Well.. actually, no, and no. It's not rocket science: subscribers are individuals, just like you and I. They have different preferences, different habits, different personalities. Addressing your subscribers by their names is a good start (and an easy thing to do, since most reputable email service providers automatically insert your subscribers' names into the greeting field). But, in most cases, this personal greeting is just not enough. Say you own a clothing store, and you sell men's, women's and children's clothing. John Smith is a customer, and he loves your menswear collections. But he's busy, and he has no women or kids to shop for. So why would he waste his precious time browsing through your specials on blouses and bibs? It's been proven: In a recent study by DoubleClick, email users were 72% more likely to respond to a business e-mail if its content was based on the interests they had specified. Choose an email service provider that allows you to set up interest groups, and then allows your subscribers to choose which groups they want to belong to. Back to the clothing store, you would produce 3 separate emails (men's, women's, children's) and only send them out to the subscribers who want to read them, creating higlhy-targeted, personalized and effective email campaigns.

3. When a reader clicks on a link from my email, it doesn't matter if they end up on a page that looks nothing like the actual email.

Um, actually, it does matter. First-off, you want to provide a consistent image of your brand. That's just Branding 101. You wouldn't create business cards that look one way, letterhead that looks another way, and a store sign that looks completely different. So why would your email marketing campaign look nothing like your website? Chances are you already have a website, so all you really need to do is customize your email campaign to have the same look and feel. Many email service providers will be able to create you a custom template that matches the exact look and feel of your website. However, beware of the price. While some email service providers charge at least a few hundred for this, others offer free custom templates as part of their services.

4. My email recipients may enjoy my messages, but they don't really want to share them with their friends.

Here's the good news: According to a January 2006 report by Sharpe Partners, 89% of US adult Internet users share email content with their friends, family and associates. And 75% of them forward emails to up to six other recipients. It's called viral marketing, and it basically translates to word-of-mouth through email (as long as you provide good content, an essential aspect of any email maketing campaign). Some email service providers have taken this insight into consideration, so they have integrated the all-important "Forward to a Friend" feature in every email you send. A few email providers will even go a step further, and allow you to track which subscribers are forwarding your messages, so you can get a true glimpse at your "brand ambassadors" (and maybe offer them some extra perks).

5. After I send out my email campaign, there's nothing left for me to do.

If you look at it that way, you're really missing half the process, and jeopardizing the success of your future campaigns. Here's why: any reputable email marketing program will include campaign tracking and reporting. These allow you to view how many of your messages were opened, which bounced back, which links were clicked on, and, with some email providers, exaclty which recipients clicked on each link. This data not only converts email marketing into an incredible lead generation tool, but it also allows you to learn more about your subscribers. So if you operate a travel agency, and you see nobody clicked on the Mexico vacation link, but 200 readers clicked on the New York vacation link, you'll know next time to place a greater focus on New York vacations. You could even send a follow up campaign to those 200 readers with a special offer for a New York vacation upgrade. That's lead generation and a highly-targeted upsell in one shot. Are you taking advantage of these?

About The Author

Robert Burko is president and founder of, an Internet portal and suite of Fortune 500 services for small businesses. Elite Email Marketing is a leading email service provider, and includes all the powerful features highlighted in this article.


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Monday, October 02, 2006

Why Email Marketing Matters

By Ryan P. Allis

According to a study by the Winterberry Group, email marketing brings in $15.50 per dollar spent This is about 17% more than direct-mail campaigns and 73% more than telemarketing campaigns. In short, email marketing matters and if you’re not sending out at least monthly email newsletters to your subscriber base, you should be. The true cost comes from acquiring the prospects and clients, not the three or four hours needed to create a monthly newsletter.

Many organizations, once they have spent the thousands of dollars acquiring their clients, fail to market to their existing base. I’ve met quite a few marketing managers who would rather continue spending $200 a pop for new qualified prospects rather than $0.01 per person to build the relationship with their existing clients and recommend new products or encourage re-orders. I’ve found that sending relevant email communications to persons who have requested to receive them is the single most effective way of cultivating the type of relationship needed to turn your prospects into customers and your customers into lifetime product evangelizers.

As a reader of this article, chance has it that your organization is one that already sends out a newsletter, or at least is considering doing so soon. Once you began sending your own newsletter, however, it is important to follow two important rules that will increase your likelihood of achieving your marketing goals, whether they are to increase repeat orders, convert a higher ratio of prospects, or obtain top-of-mind brand awareness.

The first and most important rule is to only send relevant content to persons who have requested it. What does this mean? Well, let’s say you are a travel and adventure planning company. If someone has subscribed to your Kayaking Monthly Newsletter, don’t move them over to your European Vacations list and send them an article on Dining in Tuscany. In most cases, you will very quickly lose any prospect or reduce the lifetime value of your relationship with an existing client. If the person also subscribed to it, it would be okay to send him or her a monthly company newsletter that from time to time had information on other topics, but don’t mix newsletter bases just to increase mailing volumes.

It is important to note that just setting up an interest segment and adding it to your sign up form doesn’t require you to create a monthly newsletter on that topic, but once you get a few dozen to a couple hundred people interested in that area (depending the value of the product or service you are providing), it will likely pay to have quality content developed on that topic for distribution in interest specific newsletters. This can be easily done within the IntelliContact email marketing software by either creating a list specifically for persons interested in a topic or creating a segment of persons with a specific interest.

The second rule is to be consistent with your sending frequency. Depending on your type of business and your subscriber interest level, the right volume for you could be weekly, biweekly, or monthly. Once you find the frequency that is right for your organization (and this could vary newsletter to newsletter), stick with it. We see a lot of companies whose email strategy can only be defined as “ad hoc.” Rather than blasting out a promotion whenever sales are lagging, we recommend having an emailing schedule for each newsletter and sticking to it, whether it be every Saturday, every other Wednesday, or on the 15 th of each month. As an example our company newsletter, the Permission - Based Email marketing Monthly goes out on the 28 th of each month.

What type of results can you expect from regularly sending out regular email newsletters? Here are two examples from users of IntelliContact the email marketing software my company Broadwick provides. Biotage is a company based on Massachusetts that provides DNA sequencing instrumentation. They send out event notifications and company updates to 20,000 or so subscribers each month. David Shultis, Marketing Communications Manager of Biotage, notes, “We've seen open rates at around the 38-42% mark for our large mailings. There has also been a 'pass-along' quality of our emails, as we've noticed new names that were not originally on our mailing lists responding to offers.” Another IntelliContact user, Julie Ibrahim, Vice President of the Tiger Sports Shop says “The monthly newsletter keeps us and our inn at the forefront in the minds of our past and potential guests. Thus with the continuous news from us and our region, we are kept in mind, with no sales effort or pressure.” If your organization wants to see marketing results like these, it may be time to start or expand your usage of permission-based email marketing.

If you stick with sending relevant, high quality content-rich emails on a consistent basis to persons who have requested to receive your emails, you will increase your prospect to customer conversion rates and customer lifetime value at a fraction of the of the cost of traditional methods and take advantage of the best type of marketing possible—free marketing through authentic customer word-of-month.

Ryan Allis is a well known author who writes articles and CEO of Broadwick Corporation, providers of Email marketing software IntelliContact Pro.For additional information on Email marketing for more tips, ideas and solutions about email marketing please visit

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