• Creative Round-Up: The Alcohol Market Sector
    From time to time in this column we pick a market sector and examine the e-mail creative. Here's a look at the beer/wine/liquor sector for this month. What's hot in this sector? Sports (particularly auto racing and golf), recipes, games, sweepstakes, and music dominate the creative in this sector.
  • What I've Learned About Links
    The goal of most e-mails is to get readers to click on a link. That's why I'm surprised to see so little written on developing and testing links in terms of number, placement, format, and copy. To fill this void, I submit this list of what I've learned about links thus far.
  • The Care and Upkeep of E-Mail Marketers
    What's the most important asset in your organization? How many of you answered, "our people?" I'm continually baffled, when I speak to companies about e-mail marketing, as to why they initially speak to their program deficiencies and great ideas but don't have plans to improve their teams. Improving your program and "moving the needle" is not solely about the next big idea, it's about building an organization that knows how to generate these great ideas through actual experience and learning. So, here are some ideas for improving your program through your people. I spent the better part of five …
  • Home on the Range
    One of the top e-mail sectors from a pure volume standpoint is e-mail offers that promise big rewards working from home in a start-up business. These offers are a copywriters dream: each e-mail goes on for miles. The interesting thing about many of these offers is that it is often nearly impossible to tell what you'd actually be doing and selling in these home-based businesses. What's being sold is not the product, but the SYSTEM used.
  • Segmentation Strategy
    If Rainman were a typical e-mail marketer, he would be heard muttering, "Segmentation. Gotta do segmentation. Definitely. Definitely gotta do segmentation." I don't suggest avoiding segmentation -- that would be blasphemy! -- but devising a meaningful segmentation strategy requires clear goals, adequate data, and a long-term view, not an unquestioning devotion to the latest marketing buzzword. Defining the goals is easy, right? Typically, we want to tailor content to consumer needs and preferences to improve response and build customer relationships.
  • Did I Get You at "Hello"?
    There is much conjecture about what makes a good subject line and a plethora of articles, including one I wrote last week, on how to avoid the 'Death by Delete Key' before your message is even opened. This week, I thought I'd share advice from the field on the topic. Because I manage the e-mail practice across an interactive agency, I am lucky enough to be able to tap into industry strategists, both inside my company and outside. These strategists help keep me real and in tune with what is happening in the trenches, while challenging the direction of our …
  • Things I Don't Know
    Well, I'm supposed to be the E-mail Insider, but there are some things that I see in the e-mail space that even I don't understand. Here is a list: 1. Wacky E-mail Links (part one). On a daily basis, my company reviews approximately 2,000 unique e-mail marketing messages. We see every kind of weird thing there is. For instance, we often see an e-mail come in that uses a particular delivery system that automatically sends a new e-mail if you click on a link. While looking at the e-mail, if you decide to click on the privacy policy it …
  • The New Unsubscribe Rate
    If you're like most e-mail marketers, you think of your unsubscribe rate as an essentially useless statistic. It's a minuscule and consistent percentage of your delivered e-mails. Popular wisdom holds that people find it easier or safer to delete than to unsubscribe. Calculated a slightly different way, your unsubscribe rate can give you new insight into your audience behavior. The new rate, which I call the Disaffection Index, simply uses a different denominator. Rather than unsubscribe/delivered, the Disaffection Index (DI) is calculated by dividing unsubscribes by the response rate: unsubcribes/unique clicks. Calculated this way, the DI tells you how many …
  • Now Read This
    In any formal communication, the opening statement sets the direction and context of the conversation. In speeches and articles, the opening line needs to grab the audience members' attention and entice them into the piece. In ads, the headline does that job. In e-mail, the subject line bears 90 percent of the responsibility of motivating the recipient to open the message. Just like pick-up lines at the local bar, there are original ideas that will get you past "hello," and then there are those stale, corny approaches that cause the other person to move on with eyes rolled back.
    This biggest category of e-mails that we review falls into the area we call "Coupons and Promotions." In a nutshell, the sole purpose of these e-mail offers is to get you to sign up on a list so that additional offers can be sent to you. These e-mails have one basic pitch: Sign up and get something for free. Sometimes the free thing is generic, such as a $500 coupon for grocery shopping. Sites such as FreeDVDs.com, FreeCDs.com, even FreeCondoms.com exist for this purpose. Other offers are more specific: Win a free Dell Computer, get a $25 Wal-Mart or …
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