5 Simple rules for effective e-mail marketing

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1. Keep it simple. "A lot of companies are overcomplicating design and e-mail strategy," Lamberson said. "Keep it simple, from your design to your call to action."

2. Use an expert partner, whether it is an agency, an e-mail service provider or an interactive strategy firm. "There are a lot of complexities when you do e-mail in-house," she said. "Your job as a marketer is to understand the brand, and your partner should be an expert in e-mail."

3. Develop an editorial calendar. "This not only keeps you on track with deadlines, but it also lets the audience know how frequently you'll be communicating with them," Lamberson said. The editorial calendar can be an internal document, although some marketers may consider publishing it to set audience expectations.

4. Encourage feedback with end users, including online surveys or focus groups. "This allows you to have an ongoing evolution of your e-mail strategy," Lamberson said.

5. Make the signup process easy. "A lengthy registration process might deter your user from signing up," she said. Signups can be as simple as requiring first name, last name, company name and e-mail address.

Source: Tara Lamberson, VP-marketing at interactive agency MindComet, BtoB, December 2006

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