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Small changes that make a big impact

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 Your e-mail marketing messages or newsletter might not need the complete overhaul you think. A little change can be good, said David Baker, VP of e-mail and analytics at Agency.com, an online marketing agency.

It’s a concept with which technology company AMD and Silverpop, its e-mail service provider, are familiar. AMD’s Opteron processors marketing team is in the process of redesigning its e-mail newsletter as part of a larger overhaul of the AMD corporate brand.

Baker and Grazia Ruskin, product marketing manager, brand marketing for AMD’s Opteron processors, offer their thoughts on small changes that can provide true value.

1) Make space for partners’ ads, content and sponsorships. Although AMD’s redesign was in response to a corporate change, the company was also looking to add newsletter real estate for its partners and customers, Ruskin said. “Our newsletter is a viable co-marketing opportunity,” she said. “A redesign that added space for our business partners tells them that we are interested in helping their brands.”

2) Create a cohesive look and feel. If your Web site is getting a total makeover or your company branding is changing, you should absolutely make sure those changes are reflected in your e-mail newsletter design. In fact, Baker said, these two examples are probably the only time you’d get away with completely scrapping your original e-mail newsletter. Another tip: Ask your agency to handle or help facilitate your e-mail newsletter design, too. "Even if you don't work with an outside agency, at the very minimum you should have one handle your newsletter's template design," Baker said.

3) Move content that’s important to you close to content that’s important to your readers. This falls under the rising tides theory. If you place a link to something that you want readers to know about right next to a popular link, you create synergy and a possible click-through boost, Baker said.

4) Get it all upfront. You know you only get a finite amount of time to catch a prospect’s eye. Put the headlines of all your newsletter content above the fold to give yourself a better chance of doing just that, Baker said. He suggested using anchor tags to facilitate the process. “This gives you a snapshot view within the first 300 pixels,” he said. “The first impression they see is like the front page of a newspaper.” But make sure you’re coding the page correctly, he said. If it’s not done right, you won’t get an accurate click-through report.

5) Add a call to action. Whether it’s a Forward to a Friend button, a subscription button, or a link that brings readers to a white paper signup sheet, your prospect comes one step closer to being a customer if they’re in motion. “We’re updating every single instance where we communicate with customers,” Ruskin said. “Every point of contact tied to our brand and specific campaigns is being revamped.

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