E-Mail FAQs

We had the privilege last week of contributing our expertise at “The E-mail Marketing Q & A Forum” Webinar presented by NetCreations/PostMasterDirect. Hosted by President and CEO Michael Mayor, the Webinar featured email experts (many of them ClickZ columnists) who answered questions sent by readers of NetCreations’ e-newsletter, “The Higher Road.”

If you didn’t have a chance to tune into the Webinar itself, here are some highlights that could be especially helpful to B2B marketers who are new to the email marketing space. You can request your own copy of the Webinar transcript by email. (Be sure to mention that you heard about it through this column).

Q: What are the main factors in email campaign planning?

Mike answered this question and laid out the basics very well. First, decide your strategy (and, we might add, include this in your creative brief). Acquisition? Retention? Sales? Lead Generation? Announcement? Promotion? Branding? The best strategy is a one-two punch with both a primary and secondary call to action.

When it comes to selecting your list, remember “recency is king.” Most importantly, Mike advises, ask to see how people opted in.

Another important reminder is to put an expiration date in your message to spur the reader to action.

Q: How can an email marketing campaign be measured for results?

Paul Soltoff, CEO of SendTec and ClickZ columnist answered this one in an easy-to-understand way that should be useful to anyone new to email marketing. Here’s a quick synopsis:

  • E-mail delivered If that number is not 80 percent or better, it indicates a delivery problem.

  • Open rate The percentage of people who opened the email. If the open rate is low, it could mean problems with the “from” line, subject line, or copy that appears in the preview window.

  • Clickthrough rate The percentage of people who clicked on one or more links in the email. If it’s low, there’s either a problem with the creative, offer or call-to-action.

  • Conversion rate The percentage of people who complete a transaction. If it’s low, there’s a problem with the offer and/or creative on the landing page.

  • eCPM Determines the profitability of your email, list or database. Divide the total revenue the campaign produced by the total delivered emails. Using the eCPM, you can compare lists, offers and creative.

Q: Do general open rates vary by industry?

Kathleen Goodwin, CEO, IMN and another ClickZ columnist, shared her experience with the average open rates for newsletters in the following industries:

  • Marketing communication companies: 63.2 percent open rate.

  • Retailers: 55 percent open rate.

  • Financial services: 47.6 percent open rate.

  • Manufacturing: 43.4 percent open rate.

  • Nonprofit organizations: 41.1 percent open rate.

  • Software development firms: 40.9 percent open rate.

She reports the average unique open rate for IMN mailings is 40 percent.

Q: At one time everyone did well-designed, fancy HTML formats. Now, a few lines of basic text with a simple message seems de rigueur. What’s your opinion?

This was one of the two questions we were asked (and one asked all the time by our clients). Basically, we feel the format of your message depends more on the needs of your audience than what email format is currently in style. In the case of conferences, where $2,000 tickets are sold by email, recipients must cost-justify their decision (usually to a boss) in terms of money, time out of the office, and return on investment. In that case, email templates that can accommodate two “pages” of copy are usually very effective. The copy must be broken up with sidebars, etc., for maximum readability. In another case, when promoting an instant win toy giveaway for a major manufacturer, a short, colorful HTML email was clearly the way to go.

You can find our thoughts on writing subject lines that survive spam filters in the transcript. Other expert contributions we think you’ll find of interest are:

  • Al DiGuido, CEO, Bigfoot Interactive, and still another ClickZ columnist, on standard opt-out language for all email campaigns.

  • J. Trevor Hughes, executive director, NAI on the effects of pending national legislation on the email industry.

  • Brian Burlant, SVP general counsel and business development, NetCreations, on whether the medium can survive the spam epidemic.

One of Brian Burlant’s last comments sums up the future of e-marketing. He said, “I see this medium surviving the spam epidemic and being stronger in the long term. So many unscrupulous or just lazy advertisers have sought to take advantage of the low cost of using email, without giving thought to its real benefits as a communicating tool that can generate not just immediate response…but a real-time lead that can develop into a long-term customer. The confluence of legal changes, technical development and evolving best practices will pave the way for this medium to achieve the potential we all have seen and believed in.”

Call for Case Studies: Send your B2B success stories to Karen. We’re interested in holiday promotions, or stories about how your email campaign worked despite holiday schedules and distractions.

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