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What is the most effective use of e-mail to drive revenue and loyalty?

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Without a doubt, the most effective use of e-mail as a marketing tool is the often-overlooked category of response e-mails. These are e-mails sent to people in response to requests for information, to orders being placed, to visits to a company’s Web site based on specific pages being visited, to actions taken in other e-mails and even to calls made to the call center. And these are the highest-responding e-mails a company will ever send out.

Response-based e-mails will frequently generate more than 50% open rates and will be read carefully by the recipient—because the e-mail is recognized as containing relevant content he or she is looking for. Therefore, these e-mails create wonderful opportunities to cross-sell, upsell, initiate initial purchases and generate feedback from recipients.

So what is the best way to take advantage of these opportunities? The key is to keep the request short and be sure you are asking recipients to do only one thing. Examples include: “In appreciation of your business, you can buy any one additional item, right now, at 50% off. Click here and use code abcd,” or “We see you started to fill out the mortgage application on our Web site. If you need help, click here, and if you would like to finish it now, click here” or “Be aware that our offer of free shipping ends Friday; to order now, click here.”

Obviously the offer and call to action come below the information that is the main reason for the e-mail. Don’t try to be cute and mix the offer in with the information. Be clear, provide the expected then provide the reward. Done properly, these e-mails may end up being the most valuable you ever send.

Neil M. Rosen is president-CEO of e-marketing company eWayDirect Inc. (www.ewaydirect.com).

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