Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Changing Landscape of E-Mail Marketing

During 2007, we have seen our clients integrate more e-mail marketing campaigns into their direct marketing strategy. And, we've had the opportunity to partner with leading e-mail marketing firms -- like Take5 Solutions -- who do e-mail marketing right. The rub is that there is still a lot of spam out there, and there are those companies who don't pay any attention to the whole idea of permission-based marketing. And that is the reason, my friends, that e-mail marketing still has a bad reputation. Just as with the other channels of direct marketing, when done correctly, e-mail marketing has been found to be both highly responsive and a relatively inexpensive channel.

Luckily for us, fellow blogger, CEO and founder of mobileStorm, Jared Reitzin, has recently written an article for DM News on how difficult it is to actually get your e-mail message into the desired person's Inbox. According to Reitzin, it's all about building a good e-mail marketer reputation. Doing this will ensure that your message does, indeed, reach it's destination -- and, more importantly, get read and incite a response.

Because of the problem of spam, e-mail marketers have had to become skillful at making this happen. As the article states: "According to Return Path, an e-mail performance solutions company, more than 20 percent of permission-based e-mails go undelivered. This accounts for billions of dollars in lost revenue. The rules keep changing and marketers need to adapt, or it’s going to hurt their pocket books."

So what can you do to keep up with the ISP's and their ever-changing spam protection criteria? Luckily for us, Reitzin gives us some good insight:

Below are the four most important things you need to take care of if you want to be a reputable e-mail marketer:

Complaints: Complaints logged against your campaigns are a key component to your sender reputation. Sending e-mails too often, or sending messages with irrelevant content and adding people without their knowledge, are a few ways to get in trouble. Avoid complaints by practicing permission, setting expectations and understanding your audience.

List Cleansing: It is important to have a list that has been built naturally and with the subscribers’ permission. It needs to be maintained and scrubbed for invalid e-mail addresses, dead e-mail addresses and, most important, unsubscribe requests and complaints.

Consistent List/Brand Matching: A common mistake by e-mail marketers is to assume that because you have captured an e-mail address for one brand, you have permission to e-mail them about another. You earn your reputation by keeping every brand separate and distinct from each other. Include this policy in your privacy agreements.

Relevant Messages: The days of “batch and blast” are long gone. Nowadays, it is all about making sure your intended recipients find the campaign relevant. If you are a pet supply store, don’t send dog food offers to parakeet owners. A solid e-mail marketing platform that allows you to create targets will go a long way for your reputation.

This is great counsel -- and let's be honest, none of this is that difficult. Just think about what you read and delete in your own Inbox. It's annoying to get a marketing message when you aren't interested in the subject matter. And both consumers and businesses have become very sensitive to spam. We simply don't have enough time to have to go through all of the unwanted e-mail marketing messages we get in a day. And, similarly to when the National Do-Not-Call Registry (DNC) was created and legislated, those folks who do receive your message (or in the case of DNC, the telemarketing call) are going to be a lot more likely to listen to what you have to say. With permission-based e-mail, your potential or existing customers have told you that they want hear from you about your products and services. It's a lot easier to sell something to someone who is interested than to someone who isn't.

We'd love to hear your input on how you've created successful e-mail marketing programs. If you have any success stories, please share them and we'll highlight you in an upcoming Case Study Monday!


jared said...

Good article, thanks for the props!

Nancy Arter said...

You're welcome, Jared! Glad you enjoyed the post.