First Impressions: E-mail’s Drive in 2009

What would you rather do today? Drag four large tires up a hill in San Francisco or sit by the beach in Aruba?

Regardless of your choice (although I’d love to know who picked the tires over the beach), the way you decided was to create an impression in your mind of what each experience would be like. That first impression drove you to act.

In e-mail marketing, first impressions have the same power to drive a recipient to act.

In 2009 we will all be faced with marketing and advertising budgetary challenges. In e-mail marketing, one could invest money to make improvements in over 80 different areas, such as delivery technology, creative design, and segmentation strategy. Deciding how to invest so you get the most value from your spend will be the most critical decision you make. So how do you do it?

The most effective e-mail campaigns in 2009 will be decided by one thing: the first impression they make. It may sound crazy, but it’s true. With reliance on e-mail marketing growing on an almost hourly basis, the volume of e-mails we consumers receive will continue to rise. And in an overloaded inbox, your e-mail must make a powerful first impression.

For 2009, there are three elements you should consider investing in to ensure your e-mail marketing campaigns drive the strongest first impression:

  • Deliverability. If your e-mail doesn’t make it to the inbox, it can’t make a good first impression. When you look at the return any e-mail marketing investment will drive, making sure your e-mail makes it to the inbox drives the highest ROI (define).

  • The subject line. It may sound like a tactic, but the subject line is the first impression your customer sees. When your message is read on a smartphone, the subject line may be the only chance you have to ascertain a high level of value in the recipient’s mind. The recipient will decide whether she should flag the message for future action based on the value and relevance the subject line suggests is inside.
  • The welcome process. The welcome e-mail/process is probably the very first e-mail-based interaction your subscriber has with your company. If your company isn’t sending a specific welcome e-mail (not a welcome landing page once she signs up), you’re missing the opportunity to lock in a 137 percent increase in spend from your new subscriber in 2009. For more insights on who’s creating the most effective welcome and subscription campaigns and who’s not making the grade, visit the Email Experience Council‘s whitepaper room and look for its new report, “E-mail Subscription Benchmark Study.”

In 2009, e-mail’s effectiveness will depend greatly on your ability to break through the clutter and create a strong bond with your reader. If you could only spend your budget in three areas to do this, spend them on deliverability, subject lines, and the welcome process.

P.S. For those of you who want to go beyond the first impression for 2009 and are looking for 90 days’ worth of e-mail marketing insight, check out my new book, “Email Marketing: An Hour A Day.”

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