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New Year’s resolutions for b-to-b e-mail marketers

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Now that you’ve had more than a week to get your personal resolutions for 2008 under way, it’s a good time to check in on the e-mail marketing goals that can make your programs work harder and run smarter this year. Stefan Pollard, director of e-mail marketing best practices at Lyris Inc., a Menlo Park, Calif., e-mail marketing consulting company, shares five realistic resolutions that e-mail marketers can keep in 2008.

Stefan Pollard, director of e-mail marketing best practices at Lyris Inc., a Menlo Park, Calif., e-mail marketing consulting company, shares five realistic resolutions that e-mail marketers can keep in 2008.

1. Keep it relevant. Sending the right offer to the right person at the right time is still the key to success in e-mail, Pollard said. More than ever, marketers should be focusing on the data and what they know about the customer. They should create tight segments where they know with a high degree of certainty that the recipient is looking for your company’s product, service or trade show, he said.

2. Break through the clutter. Multiple studies have shown that the two most important parts of an e-mail are the “from” address and the subject line, yet many marketers still write the subject line last, Pollard said. Focus more heavily on the subject line and be sure to include your brand name whenever possible, he said. “A successful ‘from’ line/subject line combo helps me recognize who the sender is and why I should read the e-mail by explaining clearly ‘what’s in it for me’ up front,” he said.

3. Use strong value statements. While you only have about 50 or so characters to get your value statement across, the “snippet text” is often overlooked as a great subject line helper. It’s the first sentence found at the top of the e-mail, often displayed in preview panes, or sometimes as pop-up text when moused over, Pollard said.

“Clever marketers can take advantage of this tool by placing a strong value statement that builds on the subject line and increases brand recognition,” he said. “This in turn leads to higher response rates and increased brand recognition.”

4. Make it easy to scan. Inbox overload has driven recipients to spend less and less time making decisions on what to do with an e-mail. The average person spends two to five seconds determining whether to read more, delete the message, save it for later, unsubscribe or mark it as spam, Pollard said. That means headlines, bullet points and proper use of bold copy all help a reader scan your e-mail quickly. “If done well, the reader may stop and give you a few more seconds to read it,” he said.

5. Consider mobile readers. Mobile e-mail readers, which include many in the b-to-b sector, are the biggest scanners of all, Pollard said. They rarely click through on an e-mail, and their main goal is to delete as much messaging as possible and respond to only the most important messages. Marketers need to be aware that as handheld usage increases, it’s more important than ever to have very concise messaging with clear calls to action that can be acted on in mobile environments. “Give the mobile reader a reason to save your e-mail and act on it later rather than simply deleting your message,” he said.

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