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Best practices for email marketing campaigns

Learn what should be included in email marketing campaigns and how they can build customer relationships with best practice advice and tips from a marketing expert,

I'm confused about the correct contents of a marketing email. Can you explain what should -- and should not -- be included?
Using email for marketing purposes can be a legitimate and effective way of developing customer relationships, but beware of assuming that it works just like direct mail. Because customers are so sensitive to the problems popularized and supported by the media concerning privacy and security, resist the temptation to overuse the email medium for marketing, and do not engage in saturation emailing or spamming. Instead, use the new medium to cement relationships during new-customer registration or when your enterprise has been emailed first.

Here are some best practices for email marketing campaigns:

Always give something of value. First and foremost, always give if you are expecting to get. Customers have come to expect ever-increasing levels of value in the form of information, service, discounts and promotions, for them to be willing to part with personal information.

Personalize and target the message. Similar to direct mail, email marketing has higher response rates with higher levels of "personalization" and targeting. Capture and leverage as much information as possible from other marketing programs. Profiles can help you understand the characteristics of customers and help deliver the appropriate marketing message to the right customers at the right time.

Always offer a way to be removed from the list. Customers should only have to ask once to be removed from a list; it is their right. The best email program is one that creates increased leads or sales without causing undue customer stress.

Never email someone who has not emailed you first. The most effective way to gain an inroad to customers when using email for marketing purposes is to have them either willfully divulge their email address or, better yet, email you first. Solicit and gather email lists from profiling and registration data for new customers and from customer files for existing customers, and resist sending unsolicited email.
This was first published in May 2003

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