If you’re planning an email marketing campaign with a list broker, there are a variety of activities that will streamline the campaign development and deployment process and maximize campaign results.
Be ready to provide your list broker with a clear definition of your target audience. Your list broker will use this information as the basis for media plan development. This is one of the most important activities in your campaign because it drives the logic for selecting lists and developing the media plan.
Allocate time to review your creative/offer with your broker. Although they may not specifically be copywriters, most list brokers are experienced with email campaigns and may suggest minor copy enhancements to maximize performance and increase profitability of the overall campaign. Such enhancements can include tweaks in the subject line, formatting changes in the body copy, use of specific keywords in the message text, and suggestions on deploying click-through tracking technologies. Higher-level discussion points may include the pros and cons of a hard sales offer versus a soft lead generator as well as the nuances in using text, HTML, or a hybrid of both.
Media Plan Collaboration
A media plan represents a collaborative effort between the mailer and the broker. The plan will represent your broker’s initial thoughts on where it has harnessed its knowledge base of list media, combining data from the various list research tools in addition to its own experience with specific lists. In most cases, this initial plan will be collaboratively refined. Schedule time and prepare your questions as soon as you receive your initial plan. Determine when the list was last updated, find out who the prior users were, and verify the opt-in language.
Your list broker may be in a position to negotiate special pricing that will reduce costs, improve performance, or both. Aspects of the negotiation process may include scheduling and turnaround time for the overall campaign, copy positioning (if the media plan includes email sponsorships), reciprocal rentals, list exchanges, base-price reductions (if you can commit to specific volumes), and the arrangement of credit for the actual list-rental transaction.
Deployment and Trafficking
Once the approval has been given on the media plan, the list broker’s operation group will execute it, integrating job control and scheduling activities with the appropriate list managers. The task of organizing and coordinating messages, processing list-rental agreements, keying URLs, bundling text/HTML copy, finding server locations for hosting graphical elements, complying with restrictions localized to the individual lists, and so forth is sometimes overlooked as a simple task. It requires an extremely high level of detail, an understanding of email deployment and tracking, and numerous QC checkpoints.
Checkpoints for smooth deployment are as follows:
- Is the submitted creative the final copy? If it’s not, it is better to do revisions before sending the final copy to your broker.
- Do you have the subject line?
- What is the from line alias for those lists that will allow it to be customized?
- Do you want to make use of third-party click-through tracking? Your URLs in the text copy will be changed, but you’ll benefit with the tracking results.
- If you’re using HTML, do you have a simple text message to back it up? This is typically required by all vendors.
- Is your subject line more than 40 characters? If it is, create a shorter version.
- Does your text message include hard carriage returns after a maximum of 65 characters per line? If it doesn’t, edit your text message in Notepad (SimpleText for Macintosh users). That is the lowest denominator for editing text. Put in the carriage returns exactly where you want the breaks at no more than 65 characters per line.
- Does your HTML use Cascading Style Sheets or background images? Style sheets have caused anomalies in the past, and many vendors will reject HTML creative that uses them. Replace style sheets with verbose, explicit formatting commands. Background images should be replaced with simple GIF or JPEG images.
- Does your HTML use tables? There are a few list vendors that will not send out HTML creative using tables. Check on this before sending out your creative.
- Are your GIF images hosted on your server? Most list vendors DO NOT want the onus of serving your GIF images because they don’t want to “hang” an HTML email if their servers go down. Have your tech group create a special directory with folders to host all of your images. If it’s done ahead of time, you will avoid emergency time crunches when deploying your campaign.
- What are the seeds to be used for the test message and the live campaign? Put together two seed lists as a Notepad text file. Think about who in your organization should see the test messages and who should receive the live campaign. It may be two very different groups of individuals!
Within three days of deployment, your broker should be able to provide you with click-through results to review the performance of each list. This information, at the individual list level, will facilitate development of future media plans for your particular offer.
The good news for those using a list broker is that the services it provides are performed at no additional cost because the broker is paid an industry-standard commission from the owners of the lists. Understanding the points above will allow you to enjoy an efficient relationship with your list broker while keeping your email campaigns moving forward in a timely and profitable manner.