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Email Broadcast Tips and Techniques

February 02, 2006

Email is not dead. Email is not dead as a marketing tool. In fact, email used as a marketing tool can be the cornerstone of any online marketing campaign. People may think that with the advent of spam blockers, whitelists, server blacklists, etc. that email is no longer a viable marketing option. I believe the opposite is true, email's value as a marketing tool is increasing.

While it's true that more people are aware of email spam, phishing, and email viruses, and many people may block unwanted mass emails automatically, this just ensures that when someone does sign up for your mass emails, they are very truly intersted. If you have your own opt-in list, or have a list of emails that are verified as being opt-in or even better, confirmed double opt-ins, you have a solid foundation of a successful online marketing campaign.

Once you have your list, here are some tips to maximize the effectiveness of your email campaigns:

- I think the number one rule of email marketing is list segmentation. This covers two areas, literally splitting your list into smaller parts, and also splitting up your list categorically. If you have a list of 10,000 email addresses, instead of sending out 10,000 all at once, send out in groups of 2,500. You WILL see an increase in key metrics including open rate and click-thru-rate. In addition, try to split your list up according to specific criteria. For example, split your list up by age, gender, or another key metric that may have importance on the content of your mailing.

- Email List Grooming. Sending out to bad email addresses is a waste of your time. Not only are you using up precious bandwidth and processing power, but if you are analyzing statistics (which you should be), your numbers will certainly be skewed. List grooming can be a daunting task, especially when dealing with email lists in the tens of thousands, but it must be done. Ensuring that your email list is free of invalid email addresses, addresses that block your messages out due to spam filters, etc. will ensure you're as efficient as possible, and ensure that the analytic numbers you use to track open rates, click-thru-rates, and campaign success, are accurate.

- Timing is critical. I have found that Thursdays produce the most traffic for the mass emails I conduct. The main list I use (almost 50,000 email addresses) isn't categorized at all, but is instead sent out over a period of three days. Thursdays yeild the best results. Within each day, the most emails are read at around 11am. So, it may become necessary to split your email list into segments by geography. If you want people on the west coast to recieve your email at 11am and you are on the east coast, you will need to segment the list to isolate email addresses in that time zone, and send out the emails out at 1-2pm EST.

- The more focused the email the better. This all plays into the list segmentation theory. If you split your list into different segments and categorize them somehow, then you can come up with content to appeal to that segment. If you have a 10,000 address email list and 7,000 are male, you would be more apt to split your list into a male (7,000) group and female (3,000) group with different promotions/content in each email. Instead of trying to send to all 10,000 with a "gender-universal" message/product, send out one specifically geared towards males, one specifically geared towards females.

- Use a graphic. I recently attended a webinar which included stats from Habeas. They presented readers with two emails with identical content. One of the emails had a graphic, the other did not. Using eye tracking "heat maps", they found that readership of the email with the graphic showed a dramatic increase in every measurable statistic including length of time spent reading the email and how much of the email was actually read.

- Use action items. This may seem obvious but I receive so many e-newsletters and mass emails that simply present information without an action item that it seems like a waste. You need to direct your readers. You need to tell them to "Click here to buy one now", or "Register for this webinar now". By simply putting in a call to action you can increase your click-thru-rate and drive up traffic to your website.

I think the most important piece to take away from this is the fact that list segmentation can do wonders for you email broadcast campaign. By segmenting your list by some sort of criteria you can then develop your email to target that niche. After that you can work on experimenting with emails highlighting different topics of interest or different action items. Doing so will definitely turn regular email campaign into a positive and productive email campaign.

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