Try training to help hone your e-mail marketing

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E-mail marketing isn’t always intuitive. That’s why training, whether at a seminar or informally with other marketers, is so important. John Harrison, VP-product strategy and client services at e-mail service provider Yesmail, and Paul Horstmeier, director of Hewlett-Packard Co.’s Internet and marketing services, suggest the following to help keep your training on the right track.

  1. Learn from the competition. You can be exposed to what’s new in e-mail marketing on a daily basis if you want to be. All you have to do is sign up for other newsletters—especially those your competition puts out. You’ll see what other people are doing stylistically and from a technical standpoint, Harrison said. “It starts with being able to see how people are collecting e-mail addresses,” he said. “Then you’ll get the newsletters so you can do an analysis to see what’s common and what’s not [in design and execution]. It’s up to you to take that knowledge and make the right decisions for your marketing messages.”
  2. Centralize your repository. Everyone on your team should know what other members do. In addition, people who handle mission-critical tasks related to your database or actual e-mail messaging should have a back-up. HP streamlined its e-mail marketing efforts by creating a group focused specifically on these types of tasks. As a result, instead of having a lot of people with a little knowledge about e-mail marketing, they have a smaller group of employees that are considered experts in the field.
  3. Get out of the office. You can learn the most from people who are doing exactly what you’re doing every day. You’ll meet them at conferences, round table discussions and seminars. And don’t discount the large e-mail marketing conferences that happen once or twice each year.
  4. Schedule regular checkups. Every 30 days, HP’s e-mail team sits down and does a reality check, Horstmeier said. They pay close attention to the top and lowest campaigns in particular, and disseminate information about what they learn in an online best practices sheet. Doing so helps them calculate ROI, and decide what’s working and what’s not. “We gather up all the data and share it with each other,” he said. “It’s very important from a learning perspective.”
  5. Consider continuing education. Unless you graduated recently, you probably didn’t take any online marketing courses. Most of the top marketing programs in the country have added such subject matter. Try auditing a class, which is usually free of charge, or look for an online program where you can learn from the comfort of your office. And don’t forget to go over the basics. “At the end of the day, you have to know your business and program, and what your objectives are,” Harrison said. “No amount of training can make things better if those things aren’t in place.”
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