The E-mail Blueprint — Essential Elements for Your Marketing Program

With newer online marketing tools such as social media and mobile marketing getting all the attention, email marketing seems like a marketing tool of the past. The truth is, email marketing is still one of the easiest, most cost-effective ways to build customer loyalty and drive sales — if you know how to fully maximize its power.

1. Decide on Your “From” line

Your from line is the the No. 1 factor that influences whether your email marketing efforts will be a success or not. This is what recipients see in their in-box, and includes options such as Company Name, Brand, Market, or Newsletter Name. It’s important to note, once you establish a “From” line, stick with it! Also, pay attention to how the “From” line looks when the e-mail is opened. If you use an outside company to send your mail, it is preferable that the program name is clearly represented.

2. Focus on Subject lines

The No. 2 factor that influences success is your subject line. This is the headline seen prior to opening the message that gives a brief description of what the e-mail is about. The most important thing to remember is that a good subject line convinces the recipient to open the e-mail. Concentrate on the first 50 characters since some e-mail readers have limited display.

3. Create a Template

Develop the overall look and feel of your primary e-mail program. This will not only make it easier to create, but the consistency will help improve brand awareness. You may want to create several variations for different target audiences. A good template contains several things…

— Preview pane. Seen by recipients who are able to see the first few lines of a message. Can contribute to getting the recipient to open the message. Pay attention to the top two inches; consider including an offer statement, a table of contents summary and other elements.

E-mail MarketingHeader. Standard design elements or text messaging seen at the top of a message. Many marketers will mirror a version of their site’s top navigation in their header — this extends the usefulness of your e-mail efforts in driving traffic.

— Footer. Standard language at the bottom of a message that might include instructions on how to remove your name, a suggestion to forward the message to a friend, how long a promotion will be available, and contact information

— HTML and text. Most marketers create their e-mail programs in both formats. The majority of recipients are able to receive HTML but their preference may be to receive text — particularly if they use a PDA to read e-mail.

Create Benchmarks for Success

• Open Rate: Allows sender to know how many recipients opened the message and is only available with HTML e-mail. Open rates can be misleading (if recipients preview messages, that could be an open) and should be used as a relative measurement. Unique opens measure the number of individuals who open a message, not the total number of times a message was opened.

• Click-through Rate (CTR): The number of recipients who clicked on a link or image within an e-mail and who hyperlink to the Web site for additional content.
Examine: Total CTR, Unique CTR, CTR on specific links, CTR by individual recipient.

• Pass-alongs: The number of recipients who forward the message along to a friend or colleague.

• Unsubscribes (opt-outs): The number of recipients who ask to have their e-mail address removed from the list distribution.

Business woman using digital tablet computer PCBounces: The number of e-mails that did not reach their destination and were “bounced back” to the sender. Technically, information is included with the returned message that allows the sender to know why the message was undeliverable. These are generally categorized as “hard bounces” and “soft bounces.”

— Hard bounces. The domain or the individual at the e-mail address no longer exists. Best practice —  retire hard bounces immediately.

— Soft bounces. There is potentially a temporary condition that makes the e-mail undeliverable. The mailbox could be full. A server could be down. Best practice — continue to send to soft bounces over 3 or 4 separate campaigns and retire names if they continue to bounce.

You must have a bounce strategy to improve your ability to get your e-mail delivered.

• Other metrics to review. Results by domain, unique clicks-to-opens (a measurement of involvement and engagement), click-to-purchase conversions, and your results vs. industry metrics.

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