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How to Make Your E-Mail Marketing More Effective

August 2007 Communication

If e-mail marketing is becoming an increasingly more important part of your promotional blend, Jeanne Jennings has produced what amounts to a “Primer” for effective e-mail marketing.  Her article series appeared on the ClickZ e-zine in six separate installments (www.clicks.com), and you can access the entire series by entering “Ten Steps for Developing an Effective E-Mail Strategy” on the SEARCH tab.

Here is a thumbnail summary of Jennings’ 10 steps:

  1. Identify qualitative goals – “This is just a fancy way of asking what you want an e-mail program to do for your organization.” She writes.  She limits these goals to non-number outcomes such as: sell my products; deliver qualified leads; entice people to register for events; drive repeat traffic to a Web site; generate revenues; build one’s reputation as an expert, and maintain top-of-mind awareness.
  2. Analyze the current situation – Here she suggests specific things like: what kind of e-mail lists do you have; what are you best sources of new names; what does it cost to acquire an e-mail address; how frequently do you mail; what’s you budget; what other on-line marketing are you doing; how do you develop an e-mail campaign from scratch.
  3. Complete a competitive analysis – She suggests: “The easiest way to begin is to sign up for any e-mail newsletters your competitors offer.”  She further recommends: using a non-identified address or just get a free e-mail account, and seeing how your competitors segment their markets and you, in turn, can segment your “spying” activities using different e-mail addresses for the different market segments.
  4. Define the target audience – “The more you know about your readers, the better you can match content offerings to their interests,” she writes.  “Focus on things that matter in the context of the relationship you want to have with them.  For consumer lists, standard demographics such as gender, age, marital status, educational background and hobbies might make sense.  In the business world…title, seniority and job function might be more appropriate.”
  5. Determine what types of e-mail meet your needsJennings points out that “a common e-mail misconception is that e-mail is one thing.  In reality, e-mail is a channel, a pipe.  There are many different ways to use it, many different messages you can send.” Among the most common: driving traffic back to your Web site; generating qualified leads; maintaining top-of-mind awareness for a company or brand.
  6. Develop a content strategy and a frequency and send schedule Jennings writes that a content strategy should include:
    • A detailed but general description of the content to be incuded in each e-mail title.
    • Frequency for each e-mail title.
    • Production schedule, detailing the process and timing for each e-mail title.
    • A consolidated send calendar, adjusted for holidays and other events that challenge you ability to publish.
    • An on-going editorial schedule with topics, writing resources and deadlines.
  7. Design the e-mail templateShe points out “Templates are an all-important part of any e-mail program.  They save money, as they allow you to use the same basic structure each time you send.”  Other benefits are the ability to develop an organized, coherent  and logical content strategy.  “The best templates are flexible.  They present some constants and some wildcards,” she writes.
  8. Create Quantitative Goals Here she is talking about specific numbers-directed objectives  as opposed to the qualitative goals in Step 1 such as: number of sales or amount of revenues per month; number of leads per month; number of registrants (for an event) per week, month or per event; specific repeat visit goals for a Website; in building one’s reputation as an expert, quantitative goals might include the number of press inquiries per month or the number of speaking engagements requests per month.
  9. Compile budget and return on investment projections Jennings points out that e-mail costs are hardly “FREE.”  She adds that “to develop a professional e-mail program you need to spend some money.”  She develops are a variety of creative costs.
  10. Evaluate the results and tweak the strategy accordingly She points out e-mail marketing strategies are both an end and a beginning.  She suggests learning from each e-mail execution – the good ones and the bad ones. She suggests conscientious record-keeping and storing documents in an three-ring binder with appropriate tabs.


About the author

James T. Berger, Managing Editor of The Wiglaf Journal, through his Northbrook-based firm, James T. Berger/Market Strategies, offers a broad range of marketing communications, research and strategic planning consulting services. In addition, he provides expert services to intellectual property attorneys in the area of trademark infringement litigation. An adjunct professor of marketing at Roosevelt University, he previously has taught at Northwestern University, DePaul University, University of Illinois at Chicago and The Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan (BA), Northwestern University (MS) and the University of Chicago (MBA). Berger is an often-published free lance business writer who has developed more than 100 published articles in the last eight years. For more information, visit www.jamesberger.net or telephone him at (847) 328-9633.

James T. Berger
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