Tips for better e-mail marketing performance

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E-mail service provider (ESP) solutions are easy to use, convenient and provide the capability to deliver all types of targeted e-mail marketing campaigns. But, while most are inexpensive to use and offer tools to get started quickly, they may not be as effective as you think. Here are some tips to help your e-mail marketing campaigns deliver the best results.
  • Be distinctive. Most ESPs offer dozens of templates for you to choose from. Using templates as an e-mail marketer can make your life easier, but is that the best way to get results? The fact is that people tend to choose a small portion of a template library for their e-mail messages, and your prospect can easily receive e-mails from several vendors—even your competitors—with the same template you are using.

    Branding is very important in marketing your company's product or service. Generic does not work for most companies, and finding a template that matches your company's look and feel could be challenging. Find a design that helps make your messages distinctive.

  • Hire good writing. Your ESP offers the capability to deliver your e-mail, but what about the actual message? What you say is more important than how the message is delivered. Overlooked by most ESPs is the requirement that in order for messages to be read, there has to be something compelling to read.

    Studies show that people scan the content in e-mails looking for items they like. Professional writers are trained and experienced in creating interesting communications that catch the reader's attention within a concise and readable format. Companies should consider hiring a professional writer to create marketing copy that resonates with their clients and prospects.

  • Volume speaks. Most e-mail marketing campaigns are implemented in a one-off approach, rather than as a coordinated series. But the goal of marketing is to create top-of-mind awareness through persistence and consistency. Sending single, one-off messages rarely works; further, it can lead to the complacency of the sender, thinking he's doing something positive while in fact he is just wasting time and money.
  • Watch stats carefully. Many ESPs want to bolster their results by fiddling with their statistics to make results seem better than they really are. The most common practice is how they measure opens, clicks and opt-outs. ESPs typically present “open” statistics as a percentage of the total e-mail sent, which is the way it should be. However, click-through rates are often presented as a percentage of opens, not a percentage of all e-mails broadcast. For opt-out rates, it's often back to the larger total of e-mails sent.

    Make sure to obtain metrics that are meaningful and useful. Otherwise, you'll get a false impression of the effectiveness of an e-mail campaign.

  • Find the right ESP. Competition in the ESP space is intense, and there are a lot of choices. Before selecting an ESP, make a list of your e-mail marketing requirements. If your e-mail marketing initiatives consist of multistep nurture campaigns, it is important to find the most appropriate ESP for that approach.

    Also, look for an ESP that offers a hybrid approach, combining a server-based platform that integrates with your e-mail client, such as Microsoft Outlook. With hybrid solutions, each campaign is centrally managed, but the actual delivery uses a company's e-mail client application to send outbound personalized e-mail messages.

With this approach, e-mail campaigns are unobtrusive to the sender and fully transparent to the recipient, significantly increasing deliverability and effectiveness.

Eric Rabinowitz is president of e-mail marketing consultancy Nurture Institute ( He can be reached at [email protected]

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