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Email Marketing: Facing the Challenges, Embracing the Power

E-mail marketing is an effective way to market your products and services to targeted audiences with personalized messages at a low cost. Similar to marketing trends of the past (direct mail, blast fax, etc), e-mail marketers are faced with new challenges to overcome as the popularity of this convenient communication and marketing vehicle increases.

During a one-year period from 2001 – 2002, DoubleClick reported that the volume of e-mail consumers received increased 60 percent. That number is expected to triple by the end of 2005. In addition to the sheer volume of e-mail messages, marketers also encounter two other main problems: (1) Spam blockers that can prevent legitimate e-mails from getting through to the consumer and an overall drop in the readership of messages (even for services the consumer has voluntarily opted-in to receive).

Marketers have a limited opportunity to catch the recipient’s attention as they peruse through an already saturated inbox. Remembering the following basic tips when crafting your message will help you more effectively market your product or service.

1. Provide value. Spam technology often includes a “trusted sources” option that allows consumers to create a list of sources whose messages can pass through the blocker. Therefore, marketers are tasked with distributing messages that provide valuable information about their product/service.

- Focus your message on what the end user will receive and how they benefit from the service. Do not write copy that highlights what the organization has done (i.e. “you” vs. “we”) but on how it helps the consumer.

- Build a profile page that allows the consumer to more directly target their preferences. Saving the consumer even one unwanted message builds trust.

- Educate consumers on the best way to use your product/service. Offer specific information on how to solve a problem for the consumer with your message.

2. Do not include hyperlinks, do include URLs. If hyperlinks do not work consumers are left without options for responding to the action item included in the message. Consider creating an online version of your message or typing out the URL in full so consumers can cut and paste it into their browser.

3. Design for the preview pane. The preview pane is approximately 374 pixels (about five inches) in an Outlook window. Employing a “postcard” design helps organize the message so action items are easily identifiable and strategically located within the text. Eliminating the extra step of opening the e-mail to read its contents may gain another reader.

4. Don’t use rich media. E-mail, though widely used, is still a generally low-tech medium. More than 65 percent of personal e-mail accounts do not display rich media (including Java script, Flash, streaming video, etc) correctly. Consider creating an online version of your message or using HTML only to increase readership.

5. Carefully craft your sender and subject line. Subject lines should be short and direct and should not exceed five words or 45 characters. Your subject line should provide specific, detailed information that avoids use of Spam tip-off words such as, “free,” “new” or “special offer.”

During the span of a day, consumers are bombarded with marketing messages not only through e-mail but also through radio, television, magazines and newspapers. Like the modern broadcasters, marketers should plan messages in terms of a sound byte—a short period to catch the attention of the audience and give them the information they need to contact you and learn more.

Danielle Ashery is VP, Client Services at Gold Lasso, Inc. She can be reached by telephone at 301-990-9857 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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