Email Marketing | Email Marketers | Using Email
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Harness the power of email marketing with these
simple tips that will keep your emails out of the
junk folder... and get your recipients to open them!

Email marketing has experienced a lot of growing pains over the past few years. In the beginning, it was seen as the perfect marketing tool cheap, fast, and measurable. Click-through rates were the only numbers that mattered, and people were still excited to receive and open just about every email in their inbox.

Then, it seemed like the explosion of spam, and the sheer volume of email people receive ruined the effectiveness of email as a marketing tool. Even perfectly legitimate emails were being trapped by spam filters or deleted, unopened, by wary recipients who were concerned about viruses.

Yet there are still companies that, despite these challenges, manage to generate millions of dollars of profit every year using email marketing software .

In fact, here at IMC, direct email marketing generated $3.5 million in revenue last year alone! And the opportunities keep growing.

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, email remains the number one online activity of Americans ahead of Web surfing and using search engines and now that more and more people are able to receive e-mail on their cell phones and PDAs, the opportunities for creative email marketing are only continuing to expand.

At the recent MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Summit in Chicago, Barry Stamos of even stated that people now spend more time reading email than watching TV!

All of these developments, combined with the fact that email can be tested and measured for specific results unlike other promotional methods means email marketing remains one of the most valuable tools in any marketer's arsenal.

Despite the obstacles presented by spam and volume, email marketing can still deliver an exceptional return on investment (ROI) because of the massive amount of time people spend online, and the proportion of that time they spend checking their email.

In fact, eMarketer reports that email generates a much higher return on spending than methods such as direct mail and newspaper and radio advertising.

So if anyone tries to tell you that email marketing is dead, don't believe them!

The truth is that spam and volume didn't kill email marketing the way many so-called experts predicted. But they did manage to create a few hoops you now have to jump through to get your emails delivered and opened.

These days, you need to educate yourself on the best ways to collect, manage, and store email addresses, and only send out relevant emails that people will open without hesitation. Do these things right and you'll be able to profit from all of the new opportunities available to email marketers... and continue to enjoy the impressive ROI email marketing provides.

Carefully manage your opt-in list to fully capitalize
on the income-boosting potential of email marketing

Okay, so you've written an opt-in offer for your web site and started to collect the names and email addresses of visitors who want to hear from you on a regular basis. These are people who have decided they like what they see on your web site enough to give you their email addresses. They are basically inviting you to sell to them!

Now you need to decide how you will store, manage, and use this information. Many people simply store their opt-in lists in a spreadsheet or text file, but there is also great email marketing software out there to help you manage this information more easily.

The method you choose to look after this information will depend on your own unique situation, but if you are going to get serious about email marketing, then you'll need to get serious about managing your opt-in list not just building it, but also cleaning and maintaining it to ensure that you always generate the best results and never look like a spammer.

Here are a few things you need to know to effectively manage your opt-ins... and guarantee the highest possible response to any mailout you send:

a. Manage your "subscribe" and "unsubscribe" requests

One of the most important things you can do to minimize your headaches and maximize your profits is to stay on top of your "subscribe" and "unsubscribe" requests. If you don't have an automated system for managing subscriptions to your opt-in list, this is especially important.

Always treat requests to unsubscribe from your list seriously. People who aren't promptly removed from your list after making an unsubscribe request can accuse you of spamming them, and you can quickly find yourself in trouble with your ISP.

Of course, it's just as important that people who ask to be added to your list are subscribed right away, since you never know which one of those subscription requests is going to end up being your best customer.

If your subscribe and unsubscribe requests aren't handled automatically, you should take care of them right before you send out a mailing. This ensures that your list is as current as possible, and it also means that you don't have to deal with this chore on a daily basis.

b. Remove duplicate addresses

Before you send any mailings, you'll want to make sure that you don't have any duplicate email addresses in your list. There will always be some people more than you might think who will opt in to your list, leave your site, and come back a couple of days later to sign up again, forgetting that they've already joined.

Now, people are happy to get one copy of your email, but start sending them multiple copies and just watch how fast they unsubscribe from your list or worse yet, report you as a spammer!

This kind of spam complaint is relatively easy to clear up, but it is still a hassle, and instead of having a potential customer who was so excited about what you had to offer that they signed up twice, you now have nothing.

c. Clean your list

Keeping your list clean means more than just removing unsubscribes and duplicate addresses. Cleaning your list means sifting through the messages that "bounce back" to you after a mailing, and deciding which ones should be removed from your list completely, and which ones you might want to try mailing again.

"Bounced" messages are those messages that, for whatever reason, were not successfully delivered to the intended recipient. Most bounced messages can be categorized as either "soft" bounces or "hard" bounces.

  • Soft bounces: These are messages that could not be delivered at the time they were sent, but may be deliverable at some time in the future. These types of bounces are usually caused by the recipient's inbox being full.

  • Hard bounces: These are messages that can never be delivered. Hard bounces are usually caused by the user typing in an incorrect email address when opting in to your list, or the subscriber no longer using the email address they originally opted in with.

Hard bounces should be deleted immediately. If you leave these addresses in your list, you'll just have to wade through unnecessary bounce messages every time you send a mailing, and that's a waste of your valuable time.

Plus, if you continue to send email to an address that is invalid, you can get into real trouble. This is one of the methods used to identify spammers, and if you are found to be repeatedly sending messages to a "dead" email address, you could have a problem with the ISP receiving the messages.

Emails that are returned as soft bounces, on the other hand, should be dealt with in an entirely different way. Since soft bounces are the result of a temporary problem a full mailbox, for instance you'll want to re-send your promotions to all the soft bounce addresses a couple of days after you sent out the initial mailing.

You'll be surprised how many messages get delivered on the second try. And since you've already written the email, there's almost no extra work on your part.

d. Divide your list to conquer more subscribers

Given the mountains of email people receive these days, most only want to see what's relevant. And, unfair as it may seem, anything irrelevant could be considered spam... and reported as such.

If the people on your list know that the message you're sending is something they want, they'll open it!

Using email to target different segments of your audience is one of the single most effective ways to market products or services on the Internet. In fact, email marketers practicing segmentation are currently seeing much better results than those sending undifferentiated mailings.

A 2006 report by MarketingSherpa found that email marketers using segmentation saw click-through rates that are 72% higher than email marketers who are not segmenting their opt-in lists.

The simplest way you can market to different segments of your opt-in list is by targeting them based on whether they are (a) existing customers, or (b) visitors to your site who have simply opted in to receive your free newsletter, eBook, etc.

The message you send to your existing customers, for instance, might focus on selling them an upgrade to a product they already own. Because you've already earned their trust through a previous sale, this promotion should do quite well.

Of course, you'll need to approach your subscribers those people who haven't made a purchase from you yet with a slightly different angle. You might try offering them a 25% discount off their first purchase, for example.

There's no end of ways to segment your audience depending on the information you've collected and email automation makes it not only possible, but simple!

By targeting different segments of your audience with a promotion specific to their current situation, you can just about guarantee that the results of your email marketing efforts will be dramatically improved.

e. Snag your recipients' attention by using their names

If there's a "secret" to getting email recipients' attention, it's this: Personalize the subject line. There is no other single technique that will boost the response rate of your emails as much as personalization.

Have you ever noticed that a great salesperson will find out your name and then use it every so often while they talk to you? It's a way of establishing trust and building rapport. Using someone's name makes them feel as though they have a relationship with you. And the truth of the matter is that nothing gets a person's attention faster than hearing or seeing their own name!

By personalizing your subject lines, you also make your email appear more authentic and safer to open, because recipients will be more likely to view your email as coming from a trusted source.

Unfortunately, typing each individual recipient's name into the subject line of every email you send is just not practical! Once you grow your list to more than 50 or 100 people, it becomes unmanageable! It's way too time consuming...

The good news is that there is great email marketing software available these days that will help you completely personalize your campaigns automatically, and save you tons of time and effort.

Choosing the right email marketing software
will make your life easier!

Luckily, there are some pretty powerful products out there designed to help email marketers develop, manage, segment, and personalize their lists easily, from one user-friendly interface. Choosing the right email marketing software can save you literally hundreds of hours of frustration, and help you to avoid being accused of spamming.

If the software you choose doesn't have the following features, you could be missing out on the full potential of email marketing, and leaving "money on the table." To be effective, your email marketing software must allow you to...

  • Manage your subscribes and unsubscribes. Top notch email marketing software will automatically add people who fill out your opt-in form to your list, and automatically remove the names of people who have submitted "unsubscribe" requests.

  • Segment your opt-in list for custom mailouts by collecting information on your opt-ins' preferences, buying habits, location, etc.

  • Personalize your subject lines automatically to grab your recipients' attention, and make your emails seem more authentic and safer to open.

  • Protect yourself from bogus "spam" complaints. Every time someone subscribes to your list, the date and time should be recorded so if they accuse you of "spamming," you can prove to your ISP that they have opted in!

  • Filter undeliverable email automatically. The right email marketing software should automatically determine whether your undeliverable message is a "hard" or a "soft" bounce. If it's a "hard" bounce, the email address should be flagged as "bad" automatically.

  • Protect yourself from "domain bombing" by automatically removing duplicate addresses from your list so you never risk mailing the same subscriber twice and being accused of spamming.

  • Avoid having your messages blocked by ISPs and service providers by accidentally hitting their servers too hard, too fast, with too many messages.

... And that just scratches the surface. If the email marketing software you choose doesn't have these capabilities, you will not be able to fully capitalize on the on the awesome, profit-boosting potential of email marketing. And, your email promotions will be more likely to be considered spam, which can cause big headaches.

Final thoughts

Email marketing remains a highly effective tool for any business. And the success of your campaigns rests largely on the percentage of your messages that get delivered and opened.

At IMC, we've been using email marketing for 10 years now. We've got it down to a science and we've even created our own email marketing software that incorporates all the key features we've learned are necessary to run a successful email campaign.

If you'd like more information, please visit

It's a little more of a challenge to make sure your emails get delivered and opened these days, but by keeping your list squeaky clean and sending highly relevant and personalized messages you will not only improve the likelihood of people opening your emails, you'll avoid being labeled a spammer.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Derek Gehl specializes in teaching real people how to start profitable Internet businesses that make $100,000 to $2.5 Million (or more) per year. To get instant access to all his most profitable marketing campaigns, strategies, tools, and resources that he's used to grow $25 into over $40 Million in online sales, visit: