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Secrets to Marketing Success Stephan Spencer President, Internet Concepts

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1 Secrets to Email Marketing Success Stephan Spencer President, Internet Concepts

2 Get Permission Opt-in, not opt-out. Get recipient’s consent in advance! –Opt-in: recipient volunteered to receive your email –Opt-out: recipient didn’t have the opportunity to avoid receiving your first email, only to avoid receiving subsequent ones “Hand-raisers” are a lot more likely to not only tolerate receiving your emails, but also to respond favorably Read Permission Marketing by Seth Godin

3 Spam Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE) Typical spam has a bogus sender address, bogus unsubscribe instructions, and bogus offers Spam is in the eye of the beholder Ensure recipients don’t misconstrue your message as spam

4 Distance Yourself from Spammers Remind recipients that they’ve given you permission to contact them Provide an easy way to unsubscribe Be sure reply works Have it signed by a real person Publish and abide by a strict privacy policy

5 Consequences of Spamming “Flames,” i.e. hate email Harassment from spam vigilantes Badmouthed in discussion forums Blacklisted (SpamCop, etc.) You may even have your Internet privileges revoked by your ISP Remember, perception is 9/10ths of reality

6 Deliver Value Email should be relevant, timely, and beneficial “Value" can take the form of: –newsletters, discounts, contests, last minute availability, event reminders, invitations, prizes, memberships, bonuses, coupons/discounts, exclusive sales, free samples, or demos. Surveys - give free report or enter them in a draw Go paperless - specs, price lists, statements

7 Types of Outbound Email Newsletters –Regularly scheduled messages that deliver timely and interesting news, tips, and other informational tidbits Promotional messages –Inform recipients about special offers Discussion forum posts –Soft-sell marketing strategy for becoming an accepted and trusted member of your target audience’s online community

8 Discussion Forum Posts Discussion forums include Usenet newsgroups, email discussion lists (listservs), and web forums Often overlooked by e-marketers Key is to respect the forum’s non-commercial nature Don’t blatantly advertise –Add value by answering questions in a vendor-neutral manner, then soft-sell solely through your "signature"

9 Components of an Email Subject line –Most important ~35 characters of the email. Focus on it! From line To line Message body –A promotional message should contain a compelling offer and a call-to-action –An e-mail newsletter should contain a header, a table of contents, a welcome, and multiple ‘departments’ –Privacy statement, Disclaimer, and Unsubscribe instructions

10 Measure Success Unsubscribe rate Bounce rate Unique open rate Total open rate Clickthrough rate –Can separate HTML vs. plaintext clickthroughs Conversion rate

11 Frequency Depends on expectations of target audience Email newsletters tend to be weekly or monthly Monitor number/variety of contacts to avoid burnout

12 Timing Tuesday through Thursday 10am to 2pm Varies depending on your audience

13 Length In general, keep it short and sweet. Use links. Weekly newsletter should be no more than five sections, with three or fewer paragraphs each, Monthly newsletter can be double or triple that. Promotional messages should be significantly shorter than a newsletter. Include whole articles or just abstracts with links to the rest?

14 HTML vs. Plain Text HTML emails typically have twice the clickthroughs HTML offers more control over layout HTML looks more ‘polished’ (could be good or bad) Some old email clients can’t do HTML, e.g. Outlook 95 “Sniff” for HTML open or send multiple versions multi- part Old versions of AOL only support a crippled form of HTML

15 Plain Text Emails Precede URLs with “http://” and emails with “mailto:” Limit the line width to 65 characters Headlines in ALL CAPS –Reading text in caps is very slow, because people read only the tops of letters. ALL CAPS letters don’t have enough differentiation to them

16 HTML Emails Tables - to control placement & avoid long lines Graphics - <30k, will cause the recipient grief if reading email while offline, increases download time Color - color text or color a table background, doesn’t impact download speed Font - face, size, and color Forms - embed in the email to make it easy for the recipient to respond to an offer, e.g. seminar registration –Auto fill-in as many form fields as possible Scripts, Flash, Streaming Video - not recommended!

17 Your Database Collect more than just the email address –Name (first name should be a separate field) –Zip code, interests, and other relevant demographics –What else? –Also ask for info that you plan to use in the future ‘Text to Columns’ feature in Excel In-house lists typically perform much better than purchased or rented lists

18 Personalize Tailor the offer to the individual. Beneficial offers are relevant offers Provide customized content specific to recipient location and interests Greet the recipient by first name. Perhaps even in the Subject line too. To line should specify the recipient’s email address Let the recipient control the contact frequency Increases the likelihood of being at the right place at the right time with the right value proposition

19 Segment Your List By demographics, psychographics, clickographics (visiting behavior and transaction history) Target who’s most relevant, most profitable, or most likely to respond

20 Buy or Rent Lists? Avoid the use of purchased lists –Many have actually been “harvested” from web pages, newsgroup discussion posts, or domain contact information (from the “whois” database) – without the knowledge or permission of the affected individuals Rented lists from reputable list brokers may be worthwhile –Is it double opt-in, fastidiously clean of unsubscribes, and finely segmented?

21 A Veritable List Goldmine Email addresses of prospects, potential distributors and business partners, journalists Member lists - associations, clubs, etc. Find them with Google Introduce yourself. Be personal and informal. Careful! Potential spam territory

22 Test, Test, Test! Treat your email campaigns like experiments Have a control group Vary only one thing at a time What to test? –The offer, the Subject line, the From line, the message copy, the layout, the message length, the timing, the contact frequency

23 Test, Test, Test! Track response rates of each test by making call-to-action URLs & e-mail addresses unique for each test group Special attention should be given to the frequency –don't allow recipient burnout, particularly with a regular mailing such as an e-mail newsletter Test and refine, test and refine

24 Software and ASPs Reduce the administrative headaches - the bounces and unsubscribe requests, the tracking, reporting, segmenting, and personalizing –Do-it-yourself software. e.g. WorldMerge ( –Or outsource to an e-mail service bureau, e.g. MessageMedia ( or GravityMail (

25 In Summary Now you know how to get permission, build your database, personalize,segment, test, measure success Newsletters vs. promotional campaigns Frequency, length, content The intricacies of HTML

26 Further Reading Successful Email Marketing by Debbie Mayo- Smith Marketing With E-Mail by Shannon Kinnard Permission Marketing by Seth Godin

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