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Watch Your Step: Seven E-Mail Landmines

  |  November 28, 2005   |  Comments

Landmines cause e-mail programs to blow up. What they are... and how to avoid them.

The email rules have changed. E-mail success requires knowing how to navigate marketing landmines and the ability to harness the rewards email marketing has to offer. Seven key landmines can cause an email program to blow up:

  • Prospect email database

  • Opt-in methodology

  • E-mail promise

  • Header information

  • Above-the-fold content

  • Relevant content

  • Landing page

Prospect E-Mail Database

Attrition and delivery issues can erode your best customers. Revenue generated from a 100,000 person database will decline an estimated 55 percent in a six-month period due to natural attrition and undeliverable email messages unless you replace a minimum 9 percent of the original list size each month.

Opt-In Methodology

Ensure every consumer touch point enables and supports your opt-in strategy. As a percentage of the total marketing database, the average population of email addresses ranges from 4 to 31 percent. The opt-in process extends into additional data collection (name, company role, interests) and ends with a confirmation email message. This is when the customer relationship begins. Your confirmation email establishes the relationship's effectiveness by establishing, and beginning to deliver on, the email promise. The email promise is what information you send readers, why you'll send it, and how frequently you'll send it.

The E-Mail Promise

The value of your email communications and your implied promise at the time of permission capture are possibly the most important exchange you'll have with subscribers. Fail to deliver on your promise once, and the recipient tends to be somewhat forgiving. Fail twice, and over 69 percent of recipients won't only stop reading your email, they'll also stop patronizing your organization.

Header Information

Your email's header, specifically sender address and subject line, has become the key creative landmine you must effectively manage to generate the response you're looking for. Gaining permission to email and ensuring the email is delivered are two program prerequisites. Getting readers to remember why they requested your email and inducing them to open it elevates your campaign to a point at which it can be acted upon. The sender address needs to be a recognizable, trusted name. The subject line should be clear and to the point and allude to the email's value. Anything less and you risk high deletions. Combined, the sender address and the subject line shouldn't exceed 65 characters.

Above-the-Fold Content

The top 145-200 pixels of an email's height are the most critical. Key information to include above the fold:

  • Company logo and link to the home page

  • The main call to action, plus a link to act on that call

  • A visual that enhances the brand image

  • A headline that encourages readers to read the rest of the message

From a design perspective, the most common mistake is to clutter this section with graphics. If stripped out or blocked, they negatively affect your message.

Relevant Content

The ability to access and manipulate operational and behavioral data inside an email is at the heart of its power: the power of mass personalization. No other marketing channel enables you to send one message to 50,000 people with 50,000 personalized sets of content for under $0.10 per message. The cost of a personally relevant relationship is minimal, yet the results in sales, loyalty, and brand affinity are large.

Landing Page

Creative and offer information on landing and home pages should match the creative and offer information in the email message. Even if you don't link to your home page in the email, a good bit of email traffic will go there anyway.

All home and landing pages should include tags to track from where the email traffic originates and where abandons occur. An estimated 45 percent of all email marketing sales aren't attributed to the email message because the customers return to the site without going through the email. Yet they were directly influenced to purchase by the email.

E-mail remains an effective, powerful channel. E-mail marketing success is attainable and rewarding, but it's filled with landmines that can throw you off track. Avoid these landmines, and your programs will drive successful conversion, sales, and loyalty.

Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.


Jeanniey Mullen

Jeanniey Mullen is the vice president of marketing at NOOK by Barnes and Noble, focused on business growth and customer acquisition. 

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