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Spam, But Not Spam; 10 Email Mktg. Must Dos

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The line between email marketers and spammers is a thin one. But for many legitimate e-business professionals, targeted email is an essential part of the business. The next wave of email marketing is permission-based, and companies are working to differentiate their bulk emails from spam.

This article from E-Commerce Times relays the story of anti-spam software provider Mailshell getting in bed with bulk-emailer Lyris to make the distinction clearer. The partnership has gotten mixed results.

“If I were in the business, I wouldn’t send out a news release about how I’m going to start sending out better spam,” Basex President and Chief Analyst Jonathan Spira told the E-Commerce Times.

But Lyris Vice President of Product Development Robb Wilson doesn’t equate spam with permission-based mail, and says the customer doesn’t either.

In that spirit, EmailLabs has produced a top ten “must dos” for boosting email marketing results in 2006.

“Email marketing has clearly arrived as a key marketing and CRM strategy for most companies,” said Loren McDonald, vice president of marketing at EmailLabs. “But in 2006 those companies that don’t align the proper resources and technology to take their program to the next level will find their competitors leaving them behind in the ‘inbox’ of their customers and subscribers.”

Here is the barebones version of the list; the full-length version by Loren McDonald can be found here.

1. Get relevant — dive into personalization and segmentation.

The emails that resonate most, through use of personalized subject lines, offers, articles, products showcased, and follow-on emails based on recipient activity, will be the clear winners.

2. Resolve or minimize deliverability and rendering issues.

Marketers must send pre-campaign test messages to uncover delivery problems before sending their actual message to recipients and monitor results after each message to spot ISP blocking, filtering and being on anti-spam blacklists. They should test their email messages in different email clients (Outlook, Lotus Notes, AOL, and Web clients like Hotmail/MSN, Gmail and Yahoo!) and platforms (PC and Macintosh) and correct problems. Establish authenticity as an email sender by publishing SPF code in their DNS record.

3. Redesign email messages for the inbox and users who view them in the preview pane and block images.

In 2006 Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail will both add preview panes to their Web-based clients, adding to the significant usage of preview panes by Outlook and Lotus Notes users. Marketers should redesign email message templates to deliver maximum information in the top 2 to 4 inches, increase their creative use of HTML fonts and colors, while relying less on the use of images that may be blocked by ISPs or the recipient’s email client.

4. Optimize the beginning of the email relationship.

Marketers must engage new subscribers immediately with an organized program as the most significant decline in email performance comes after two months of recipients opting in to a list.

5. Get on the permission train.

While not required by the CAN-SPAM Act, permission-based email is becoming the acknowledged standard in the industry and companies that send unsolicited email can expect deliverability problems and greatly risk damaging their brand and losing customers.

6. Focus on metrics that matter.

Instead of worrying about open and click-through rates, companies need to focus more on the end goals and focus on tracking conversion rates, revenue per email, whether specific desired actions were taken, etc.

7. Take better care of long-term subscribers.

EmailLabs estimates that 30-50 percent of a company’s email list may be inactive. Marketers need to take multiple steps to wake up these dormant subscribers.

8. Maximize search with email.

Companies need to integrate their email programs with their search efforts by using an email offer as a secondary objective on landing pages and then use email to move subscribers along the sales lifecycle.

9. Test, test, test and improve.

Email marketers must test variables continuously, including format, design, copy style and calls to action, subject line approach and offers, personalization, content types or product categories and more.

10. Create an email marketing plan and align resources.

Marketers need to develop a plan that clearly demonstrates to management the value and ROI of a strategic and well-run email marketing program.

Spam, But Not Spam; 10 Email Mktg. Must Dos
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  • Susan Mitchell

    How do I identify and eliminate items in my e-mail messages that make them appear like they are SPAM? I have permission to send regular e-mails to a specific distribution list, but sometimes they get delivered with an SPAM notation added in the subject line. What am I doing wrong?