5 Ways to Improve Your E-mail Campaigns

Ian Lurie

E-mail marketing is still your best direct online marketing channel, and that’s not going to change any time soon. But it can also make people hate you in a hurry. Here’s how to maximize results and get some customer love at the same time:

  1. Be polite. Use an opt-in list. ‘Opt in’ may not mean they said ‘please e-mail me’. It may mean they said ‘please contact me’. But regardless, only e-mail folks who indicated they would like to hear from you. The one exception: We’ve had good results e-mailing past customers, regardless of opt-in, but only if the message is short, sweet, and has a great incentive.
  2. Obey the law. To comply with anti-spam regulations, you must have: Your mailing address in the e-mail; a clear unsubscribe method; a subject line identifying the e-mail as an ad; a working ‘reply to’ e-mail address.
  3. Keep it short. Make sure the call to action is clear, and that it will show up in the preview pane of most e-mail software:
    Email Inbox
  4. Measure and test. Try different subject lines and headlines. Send your e-mail out to small parts of your list, first, to test the different ‘recipes’. Track how many folks open your e-mail, click through to your site, and make a purchase. Then use the best combination of subject, headline, etc. for the rest of the list. If your e-mail tool doesn’t let you track opens and clicks, get a new one. We use WhatCounts, and I’ve been very happy with them. Another great one is Campaign Monitor.
  5. Finally, do resend to those who don’t open the first e-mail! 3-5 days after your first e-mail, retrieve all of the e-mail addresses of folks who didn’t open it. Resend the campaign to them. We’ve seen a 25% increase in clickthru and conversion rates.

These rules let you play it safe and earn money, too: I’ve used these pointers for years, and we’ve never had a spam complaint filed against any of our clients.

Happy e-mailing!

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (that's more than 25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team, training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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