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NMOA Direct Marketing Article
Technological Advancements in Email Marketing Campaigns
By John Brogan, Founder, Global IntelliSystems

Many internet users know that online search engines log activity by tracking cookies. Additionally, a user's search history results in the display of certain types of advertisements. Now this same technology is used with email messages. For example, clicking on an advertisement in an email message triggers similar ads to be displayed during internet browsing sessions. Plus, emails can display images or even entire sections of content differently based on the user's click activity in prior emails.

More than ever before, email marketing is becoming increasingly dynamic and time-sensitive. Emails are personalized and targeted to the recipients' needs and interests, while sales are measured in hours and not days. Accordingly, it is imperative for companies that use email marketing to learn more about tailoring emails to precisely fit their customers' reading, shopping and click habits.

Advancements in Email Marketing Campaigns

One innovative development in email marketing campaigns is that now multiple vendors can be queried at the time a message is placed in the delivery queue. Those vendors will know what the recipient recently purchased (online or in a store) and can sell this knowledge to marketers enabling email messages to be as close to an exact fit as possible. For example, an automobile accessories company may know the type of vehicle the user drives, how often and where they purchase gasoline and if there are any auto parts stores nearby. This information allows emails to be tailored to recipient's recent shopping habits, making the emails more relevant and more likely to be read. However, emails that are purely ads or sales pitches are more likely to be "trashed" rather than read and acted upon. Marketers can use the recipient's information to create emails that are a blend of news, information and advertising.

Some may question if receiving such a personalized email may upset the recipients. The key is to ensure recipients received the privacy terms when they sign up for the mailings. At the very least, these terms need to explain that the subscribers' information is not shared with others but instead are used to help tailor email messages for the subscribers. For example, grocery stores already are communicating via email to their customers about limited time offers. By using the information available from membership or bonus cards, grocery stores know the items shoppers purchase most often. Using this data they can send customized emails to entice shoppers into the store for those special deals.

Technology and Email Marketing Campaigns

There are several ways to incorporate technology into email marketing campaigns. One is through the use of time-sensitive metering systems. This is where time is measured between the moment the email is opened and the time the recipient clicks on the enclosed ad. This technology enables marketers to offer extra incentives to those who react quickly to a message. Another method is with the use of a "click club" where the number of times a user reacts to a message is recorded. The greater the sale or discount is then based on how often a recipient visits the marketer's website. In these campaigns everything is tied to reaction/response times and loyalty to the marketer. Knowing who the most active customers are versus the non-responders allows marketers to custom tailor messages to different segments of their lists. Non-responders may be given an extra incentive to visit the company's website while the active customers may receive targeted messages matching their shopping habits. The idea is to make it easy for any recipient to shop.

Best Practices of Email Marketing Campaigns

Reputable companies do not knowingly send spam. Here are a few practices marketers can engage in to reduce their companies' chances of sending spam accidently.

• Be wary of purchasing emails lists as some contain spam traps. Spam traps, commonly used by ISPs to locate spammers, are email accounts that are no longer used or not accessed by anyone and therefore should not be receiving email. ISPs can make the decision to block companies sending emails to those nonfunctioning addresses from sending out future email.

• Only use truly confirmed opt-in addresses. In other words, just because someone signs up to be on a mailing list does not make them a valid subscriber. Instead, send every potential subscriber an email saying, "Thank you for your subscription. Please click [here] to confirm your membership." This allows the recipient to opt-in to the mailing list while aiding the company in avoiding people subscribing friends or using fake addresses.

• Keep the list free of bounces and remove "un-subscribers" immediately to stay in good graces with the public and the ISP community.

• Do not obtain sensitive or very personal shopping history data from third parties. Knowing that an email subscriber is an avid reader of sports magazines is fine. Knowing exactly which magazines the subscriber reads may quickly chase away the recipient due to privacy concerns.

Additionally, include an easy way to unsubscribe in every email. Recipients who want to unsubscribe but can't figure out how to do so quickly may become an upset consumer who reports the company as a spammer versus an indifferent consumer who merely deletes the email. In every email, provide both a link that takes recipients to an internet page where they can unsubscribe in a few clicks or explain how to unsubscribe by email.

Common Mistakes of Email Marketers

Many marketers send a series of email messages to recipients with similar message content, believing that exposure to the same message over and over will remind recipients to act on the message. Recipients may take action, but unfortunately it usually comes in the form of unsubscribing. Sending the same email message repeatedly turns off most recipients unless there is some dynamic component to the messages keeping the readers engaged. Another mistake made by marketers is bundling too many offers in one email message. Selling multiple products is fine, but offering twenty in an email message is overkill. A more effective strategy is to focus on the top ten (or less) items in an email campaign. Finally, as recipients increasingly read their email on other formats than the desktop computer (e.g. BlackBerrys, iPads), marketers need to ensure that their messages are readable and applicable on all formats.

Decreasing Unwanted Email

Usually, these mistakes generate complaints from the email recipients. Or, they become worn down to the point they don't bother unsubscribing. Instead they hit the "this is spam" button. Today, spam is more than just junk email. It is any email the recipient's don't want to receive. The impact of being reported as a spammer ranges from having all future email land in the junk or spam folder to being blacklisted completely where future email is rejected 100 percent. Or, the email is simply routed into a DOA (delete on arrival) system, meaning the company never knows if the message was delivered. The effects of unwanted emails are decreased click through rates and revenue per sent email. By carefully designing and delivering an appropriate number of emails in a marketing campaign, companies can reduce the number of un-subscribers, undeliverable emails and spam reports while increasing company profit.

About the Author:
John Brogan is the Founder of Global IntelliSystems. Headquartered in Frederick, Maryland, Global IntelliSystems provides email marketing and list management solutions, surveying, delivery testing and mailing list resources along with solid customer service to help professional email marketers get the most for their money. For further information, call 800 707-7074 or visit


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