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Myth & reality: Keeping current with e-mail strategies

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Myth & Reality: Keeping current with e-mail strategies

By Karen J. Bannan

E-mail marketing strategy evolves on a day-to-day basis, which means what worked six months or even six weeks ago might not work today. Randy Ilas, the director of product and marketing for direct marketing firm Harte-Hanks, based in San Antonio provided his take on these five newly minted e-mail marketing myths.

Myth: Never e-mail on the weekend or before a major holiday.

Reality: You may actually do better sending out a message over the weekend since people have less e-mail waiting for them on Monday morning, Ilas said. “From our stats, it seems to make little difference the day of the week in the b-to-b space,” he said. “Professionals do not pounce on e-mails anymore, even with the BlackBerry, which appeasr to be used for updates on key, pressing issues rather than responding to offers. Who you are and what you have to say is all that is beginning to matter.”

Myth: You’ll get the same results from all your lists as long as your offer is a good one.

Reality: If you send out an offer to your house list, you can expect it to perform much better than an offer that goes out to a rented list, Ilas said. “House list performance is a totally different manner than prospecting lists, yet many in marketing compare stats from both types of e-mail efforts to each other,” he said. “When comparing stats, be careful to make apples-to-apples comparisons, otherwise you'll draw wrong conclusions and make potentially wrong decisions.”

Myth: You need to tell the whole story in your e-mail or you’ll miss out.

Reality: Customers and prospects are speaking with their open rates: Tthey don’t have time to read all the e-mails they get on a daily basis. Add in the fact that an increasing number of businesspeople are reading their messages on a BlackBerry or PDA and you realize quickly, said Ilas, that you need to keep things brief. “Send people links so they can download or print things to read,” he said.

Myth: Always put your offer first in your subject line.

Reality: Unless your recipient knows where a message is coming from, chances are they may simply delete it. A better option: Try to combine your brand with the offer. “You might write something like, ‘10% discount from company name,’ which will let people know who you are and what you’re offering,” Ilas said.

Myth: Discounts matter more than branding.

Reality: E-mail marketing shines when it’s used to warm people up and nurture relationships, Ilas said. “We’re seeing that b-to-b clients are having much better luck with campaigns that use a 1, 2, 3 strategy,” Ilas said. “Your campaign is a three-step campaign used to warm prospects up. So your first message is here’s who we are, the next one is here’s what we offer and the third message is, ‘OK, here’s a special offer created just for you.’

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