Back to Basics 2001

From time to time, we all need to step back and revisit our roots — our email marketing roots, that is. With all of the hubbub in our daily work lives (and within our ever-changing industry), we sometimes lose sight of the core basics that can be critical to our success.

I realized this twice in the last week. The first time was over the weekend while I was pulling together content for a daylong workshop I’m holding later this month through the Zeff Group. The workshop will essentially be an email marketing “boot camp for beginners,” and I realized as I was developing it how different a place a beginner is in today compared to just two years — or even one year — ago. There are so many tidbits and details that even the newest of newbies needs to know in order to succeed.

Then, while participating as a member of a Netpreneur Ad-Marketing panel presentation on the same topic, I had a related epiphany. Yes, some members of the audience were savvy email marketers; however, there were probably more first-timers than those with experience. But despite that fact, both experts and novices alike had plenty of questions, as well as thoughtful things to share.

That’s when I realized that this discipline is still in its infancy (well, perhaps it’s a toddler by now) and that — no matter what our level of experience is — we can ALL benefit from a little “back to basics” review.

Therefore, I thought it might be a good time to recap some of the tried-and-true yet vital nuggets that came out of the latter-mentioned panel discussion. By the way, my partners in crime during that session were Russ Shaw of MessageMedia and Mike Rodriguez, an independent consultant formerly with Not to mention the 90 or so very eager and vocal participants in the audience.

So, without further ado, what follows are five solid standbys that we should all keep in mind as we progress down the email marketing superhighway.

  1. Test, measure, and refine. Then roll out. Then do it all over again. This mantra should not stop or pause once you have a successful control. Test something with every mailing, even if you are just sending out a newsletter. The more you know, the more effectively you can apply that knowledge to future winning campaigns. Track click-throughs (of course!), landing-/splash-page hits, number of registrations sent, and number of confirmations sent that do not bounce.

  2. Negotiate opt-in-list costs with the full picture in mind. In other words, don’t just tell your list vendor or broker the price you want. Back it up with a reason why. For instance, if you’ve calculated that you can spend only $5 per registered lead, and you’re dealing with a list vendor that’s going to cost you $7, therein lies your ammunition to negotiate.

  3. Create at least a preliminary house list. The focus these days is on building a database with legs. More than just an email list, it should contain vital information about your customers, members, and subscribers. That is where the power of email truly lies. Even if you do not have the resources or finances to deploy to your house list in a customized, one-to-one manner, that shouldn’t stop you from collecting that information and storing it in separate fields that you can split when you’re ready.

  4. Make your splash page work for you. Most of us know that an email-specific landing or splash page can do wonders for conversion. That means that every email advertisement should contain links that go to customized pages on the promoting site. Keep the forms contained therein short and simple, and keep the look and feel consistent with the email promotion itself. Also, try not to include too many extraneous links where recipients/visitors can get “lost.”

  5. Link it up. Of course, in order to track click-throughs, you must have something to click. Link early and often — that is, make sure you embed a tracking URL at the top of the message. And link everything that is remotely clickable — graphics, photos, and phrases with calls to action embedded within them.

Obviously, there’s plenty more where those came from. In fact, if anyone has more to share, please feel free to email me, and I’ll be sure to do another wrap-up in the near future.

After all, we can’t ever have too many reminders of what has helped shape our successes thus far. It’d be like saying you can have too much of a good thing!

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