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Weekly Internet Promotion Articles

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Vol. 1 issue #60  Apr 29, 2003

 

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ABCs of Promotional E-Mail
 2003  by David Townsend





Of all the weapons in the e-mail marketing arsenal, promotional campaigns are among the most popular and effective. Here are the basic components of a promotional e-mail campaign and a few useful tips.

Promotional campaigns feature e-mail messages with a single, focused call to action. They use incentives including pricing discounts, sweepstakes and giveaways.

The primary objective is to encourage the recipient to respond immediately.


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The Pot of Gold

To that end, the e-mail message provides a link to a Web page where an offer can be fulfilled, a product ordered or a trial version downloaded. The message can also provide a toll-free number.

You can send a single e-mail or conduct an ongoing campaign.

Promotional campaigns can be used to:

  • Encourage a product purchase, especially product upgrades.
  • Gather e-mail addresses and other profiling information from potential customers.
  • Get rid of stock that hasn't sold fast enough.

One of the biggest benefits of e-mail marketing is that it allows you to test your customer base rapidly and extensively. Try testing different incentives and layouts to determine which combinations generate the greatest response rates.

Do headlines, graphics and offers within e-mail messages have an impact? Is the promotion more successful when sent as a separate e-mail message or when included in your regular customer newsletter?

Remember, every customer base is different

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Connect the Dots

Here are useful observations and guidelines for promotional e-mail messages:

Layout. As a general rule, marketers warn against placing important information "below the fold," that is, where the viewer must scroll down to see it. In our experience, however, the location of an incentive within a newsletter doesn't affect response rates.

Format. HTML messages get substantially higher response rates than their plain-text counterparts especially in business-to-consumer applications. In addition, remember that messages to AOL users must be specially formatted to allow for hot-linked URLs.

Links. More than 70 percent of recipients click only one link within an e-mail message. Promotional messages are therefore most effective when they direct the recipient to a single URL.

Copy. Unlike print-based promotions where long copy can be effective, promotional e-mail messages should be short and sweet. Clearly and quickly define the incentives and actions you want recipients to take; otherwise, they'll head straight for the delete button.

Incentives. When sending a promotion, be sure there's a compelling incentive for readers to take the desired action. The incentive whether giveaway, price discount or access to valuable information must be of real value.

Volume. Do not overwhelm your readers with dozens of messages. Start with one to two messages per month; increase the frequency only if you need to convey time-sensitive information or if your users tell you they want more.

However you choose to use e-mail marketing, remember to apply the same discipline you would to any other marketing medium. In particular, be ready for success. If a call center will be used for fulfillment, make sure you're prepared for a large volume of calls immediately after the mailing.

Mailing to a small sample group first allows you to determine the probable response rate.

If you have doubts about any aspect of your campaign, start small and test extensively, using your existing customer base as an informal focus group. If you still have questions, seek professional assistance.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
David Townsend is CEO and founder of Innovyx Inc., a leader in e-mail-based direct marketing solutions.

 
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