10 Things You Should Know About E-Mail Marketing

““If people don’t want to come out to the ball park, nobody’s going to stop them.””Yogi Berra

Of all the opportunities the Internet offers individual wealth seekers, e-mail marketing is my personal favorite. (By e-mail marketing, I mean sending e-mail sales messages to customers or potential customers.)

My preference reflects my prejudice – that direct marketing is the best marketing for entrepreneurs – but it also derives from the experience I’ve had testing out just about every popular Internet marketing vehicle, from banner ads to inserts.

If you have something special to sell and you can locate a group of people who have bought that kind of thing before, you have a sales opportunity made in Marketing Heaven.

So if you are not doing any -mail marketing now, start thinking about it. The following checklist* covers what I (and the nouveau experts) think of as the basics. (Understand these and you won’t waste enormous time and unnecessary money.)

1. The Subject Line is your headline. To comply with most Internet formats, it should be no more than 40 characters long. If you exceed that limit, the default window settings for most e-mail programs will chop up your message.

This should not be a problem for you. Creating a compelling 40-character Subject Lead is something any good copywriter is able to do.

2. Again, to comply with most formats, the Line Length of your message should be no more than 60 characters.

3. If you are creating your message with a word-processing program like Microsoft Word, remember that much of the available formatting (including italics, boldfacing, tabs, and centering) is usually lost in e-mail. It’s best to compose your message using a mono-space font. Because every space is the same, your indents and bullets will be lined up properly.

4. The From Line (the line that indicates who the e-mail is from) is just as important as the Subject Line when it comes to getting your message read. Prospective readers often scan From Lines to detect and delete “junk” mail.

If you don’t intervene, your From Line will probably be from the list owner/broker (the person/company from whom you have rented your list of e-mail addresses). The From Line used by the list owner usually uses a reference familiar to the prospect – which increases the likelihood that your message will be opened. If you wish to alter the From Line, ask the list owner. He may grant you permission to do so. One common modification is to change the text to the left of the @ symbol (to read, for example, yourcompany-offer@xyztransmission.com”).

5. Although “free” is considered the strongest benefit word in direct-response marketing, it works against you when used in your Subject Line because many prospects have trained themselves to delete any messages that employ it. There are automated e-mail programs available now that allow e-mail users to automatically delete by key words. “Free” is apparently one of the most popular.

6. When renting e-mail addresses, make sure the people on the list have knowingly permitted the rental of their names. Look for “opt-in/opt-out” language that is clear and clearly displayed by the list owner on his website.

7. Make sure the addresses you are renting are recent. As with mail-order lists, e-mail lists get stale after a period of time. Some lists tire faster than others. A good list broker will be able to give you advice about that. But, as a general rule, you want to mail to “hotline” names – names that have been put on the market in the last 30 to 90 days.

8. Consider the timing of your e-mail messages. Since they are transmitted almost instantaneously, you have much more control over when they are received than you do with snail mail. One recommendation often made is to avoid the crush of Mondays (too many other messages backed up from the weekend) and Fridays (too many non-business distractions). It may be possible to actually refine the timing to certain specific hours within the day.

9. Test like crazy. Since e-mail marketing is newer than snail mail, there are fewer rules. But one principle that applies to both e-marketing and traditional direct-mail marketing equally is that testing will be your ultimate salvation, allowing you to understand the market and keep up with its changes.

10. Don’t be seduced by “rich media.” Rich-media e-mail (which often includes sound, video clips, and animation) can have a big impact. But it carries with it certain problems, mostly in terms of the length of time it takes for such files to be transferred.

Rich-media files are much larger than other e-mail attachments and often require additional resources to send them. Also, certain rich-media formats, such as Macromedia Flash, require users to have a plug-in installed on their computers. Plus, e-mail with the attachments required for rich media is susceptible to transmitted viruses.