Making Email Work

Now that email marketing is no longer a novelty and devising a campaign that yields significant results takes more effort than ever, we asked several email-marketing gurus to share their techniques to increase effectiveness. You may find that adapting one or more of the following will improve your own campaigns.

1. Create Emails Every Browser and Computer Can Read.

A $15,000 campaign executed by H2F Media for Las Vegas’ The Venetian yielded some $500,000 in hotel bookings. What made it successful? The company’s Smart Delivery Package, a 4k-to-8k email coded with seven layers of content. Depending on the recipient’s computing environment, the appropriate layer automatically displayed. Regardless of email client, browser, operating system, and/or bandwidth, the message was intelligible.

To create the campaign, H2F repurposed in-house video from The Venetian, edited it down to a 30-second spot, encoded it for online delivery using its proprietary Digital Wildfire product, and emailed it to previous visitors and others who had expressed interest in the property. Out of 50,000 emails sent, H2F recorded 15,000 unique opens that led to 2,500 bookings for 8,000 hotel nights.

"One of the inhibitors to the growth of rich media, which dramatically increases response and conversion rates, is that a certain percentage of the audience has traditionally received lousy experiences," says Neil Marshall, H2F’s VP of business development. With Digital Wildfire, customers "can reach 80% of their audience or better with rich media, and the remaining 20% still receive a marketing message."

2. Build a Qualified Database Through Online Advertising — and Save Money.

Office Printing Business (OPB), a division of Xerox, created an online lead-generation campaign using banner ads to attract inquiries from potential customers. According to spokesperson Jill Fairbanks, "Xerox found that the database the campaign produced was 10 times more cost-effective than purchasing a list from a third party."

Among those who responded to the online campaign, the cost per lead was $10; using a third-party list, the cost jumped to $100 per lead. As a result, OPB no longer purchases third-party lists for email campaigns.

3. Foster Relationships with ISPs So Email Doesn’t Get Bounced As Spam.

"Offer your audience value-added content, white papers, or a free consultation in exchange for information about themselves," counsels Gartner G2’s Denise Garcia, who recently surveyed the email industry.

"When it comes to B2B email marketing, we recommend sending useful information rather than giveaways or contest offers," says Mark Devaney, public relations director for Grafica Group [], an ad agency that applies CRM technology to marketing campaigns.

In a six-month period, Grafica tested four email campaigns with different offers to incentivize recipients. Giveaways included a free hour of consulting, a free book on CRM, and a chance to win a free email pager. Info offers included an interactive Q&A on email marketing, a white paper, and a CRM newsletter. With all variables being fairly equal, B2B recipients chose to receive information over gifts by a margin of five to one.

4. Add Value to B2B Relationships.

Spokane’s Klundt Hosmer [], a visual-communications firm that specializes in marketing for high-tech clients, proved to client Itronix that an HTML email campaign was both more effective and more cost-efficient than a traditional direct-mail piece.

The agency spent $30,000 to create and mail a printed brochure to 40,000 names. For the corollary email campaign, sent to 25,000 names, another $12,000 was budgeted for list acquisition, strategy, ad development, and distribution. Both efforts reflected the look and message of the GoBook MAX portable computer’s website and other marketing materials.

While the direct-mail piece garnered a respectable 4.34% response, the email pulled an even more impressive 5.39%.

"In addition," says principal/creative director Rick Hosmer, "the email campaign yielded four times the response to our lead-qualification form. This example gave us the impetus to recommend email as a viable alternative to direct mail. After the client saw the response and how cost-effective the email campaign was, they increased their 2002 budget for email communications and planned an email newsletter. Email is a medium I certainly would recommend to any high-tech client marketing a high-tech product."

5. Use a Sweepstakes to Grow Your Database., recently acquired by e-marketing giant Naviant, captures consumer data and builds opt-in lists by offering high-ticket sweepstakes and other incentives to its members.

Its client list consists of some 500 companies, including Columbia House records, which thrives on attracting an ever-expanding universe of prospects.

For client LeadClick Media, supplemented emails with incentives to encourage clicks by consumers; they were offered a chance to win a large-screen HDTV or a Jeep Wrangler. Kathy Pooya, LeadClick’s director of marketing, says, "’s email campaigns outperformed others we have used by almost 100%."

6. Prove to Your Client that Email Works Better than Direct Mail.

"Anti-spam battles are being waged at the ISP level because ISPs are being forced by customers to comply with strict regulations," says Kevin Sheridan, marketing manager at MindShare Design []. The worst that can result from recipient complaints is that an ISP will block a mailer’s IP address — and preclude subsequent emails from being distributed.

MindShare Design, which has developed proprietary technology for high-volume email delivery, maintains a full-time standards and practices staff to monitor abuse and complaints and keep lines of communication open with the ISP community.

List owners must provide source documentation, and lists are authenticated prior to mailings. Automated mechanisms are in place to suspend a mailing if there are excessive complaints.

7. Geo-Target Your Prospects.

When CitySearch set out to increase its customer base, it used DoubleClick’s DARTmail product to deploy customized weekly newsletters to subscribers in 33 cities. Personalized content directed recipients to contests and promotions at their local site.

As a result, several newsletters received a click-through rate in excess of 20% — and CitySearch doubled its subscriber base within six months.

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