Harnessing E-mail’s Strengths

E-mail. One small word that can drive so many negative opinions from the marketing side of the house: “It’s spam.” “It’s too cheap.” “It’s not strategic.” “It’s insignificant.” “Customers get annoyed by it.” “No one reads it.”

We often forget, though, this same word drives a very different opinion in consumers.

In a recent focus group, people were asked which marketing communication they liked best. The majority said e-mail is their favored format. Here are some snippets of the responses:

  • “Where else can you find a flexible tool that allows you to organize and save messages in personalized folders that offer immediate access?”

  • “I love e-mail, because it makes me lazy — I can forward a message to multiple friends at the same time. I can’t do that with phone calls or regular mail.”
  • “Yeah, I know at times it might get a bit annoying, but no more annoying than a telemarketing call at dinner. In the end, I usually get things that I am interested in.”

These comments offer us a revitalized way to look at our industry. Not as frustrating, ignored spam, but as a convenient, controllable, customer-driven message channel and dialogue stream.

Knowing this means it’s our responsibility to harness this communication channel and leverage its power to better service our clients and move into the digital dialogue world. This brings to light a critical question to ask when designing your company’s next e-mail strategy: is your campaign taking advantage of all the perceived benefits consumers have?

Here are three elements to include in your next campaign:

  • Make sure the subject line is informative and provides an easy reference point if the message is saved for future access.

  • Ensure your hosting solution keeps images online for at least 120 days after the e-mail is sent, in case someone needs to refer to it down the road.
  • Consider not only adding a send-to-a-friend line in your e-mail but also creating copy in the footer that allows people who have received the forwarded e-mail to register or opt in to future messages.

These three elements may seem pretty basic, but they help to ensure we’re capitalizing on the areas many e-mail recipients (who aren’t marketers) say are both powerful and valuable.

Meet Jeanniey at the ClickZ Specifics: E-mail Marketing seminar on May 14 in San Francisco.

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

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