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E-mail marketing can reduce costs, build loyalty
By Jim Kendall | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 11/20/2008 12:02 AM

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Businesses looking to spend fewer marketing dollars but still keep a presence in the marketplace should look seriously at e-newsletters and e-blasts.

"Definitely," says Jackie Camacho-Ruiz, co-owner and make - it - happen director at JJR Marketing Consultants LLC, Aurora. "E-mail marketing helps save money and is a cost-effective way to build customer loyalty."

She's right, but so is Jeff Klingberg, who emphasizes that planning and implementation are as important for e-marketing more traditional activities.

"What's the objective? What is the message? What is the strategy?" asks Klingberg, who is president of Hampshire-based Mountain Stream Group, Inc., something of a mini-conglomerate with a marketing advisory focus.

There are guidelines to be followed:

• The federal CAN-SPAM Act requires that you give e-mail recipients an opt-out option; prohibits misleading routing information (the "from" and "to" e-mail information); and prohibits deceptive subject lines. Check the details at www.ftc.gov. Type CAN-SPAM in the site's search box.

• It is the subject line of your e-mail that determines whether your e-message gets opened and read or goes straight to the SPAM folder. "Spend some time on the subject line," says Camacho-Ruiz. Words such as "Free," "Sale," "Offer" and "Last Chance" are sure tickets to the SPAM box, she says.

• More than half of e-mail recipients view e-mails with images turned off. "That's the 'cc' box with a little red X," says Klingberg. "Unless you have an underlying text message (that describes the missing image), what you have is a nice graphic that no one sees."

• E-newsletters, which Camacho-Ruiz says should be at least 85 percent educational, can build "an emotional connection" with customers. An e-blast, on the other hand, is nearly all promotional - think an ad on e-steroids - and is intended to create a sense of act-now urgency.

• If eight percent of recipients open your e-mail, that's good.

• Do-it-yourself providers such as Constant Contact or iContact offer templates and list management support that make it relatively easy for novices to build e-campaigns. Usage reports from Constant Contact, for example, will tell you how many people opened your e-mail; the click-through rate; and which, if any, links that were included in your message they hit.

The self-service platforms don't guarantee success, however. "Sometimes the header is too big and won't fit the client's e-mail frame," Klingberg warns. Sometimes your cool graphics are at the top of a template message, requiring recipients "to scroll halfway down to get to your message."

Two other things you should know: One is that JJR and my marketing firm sometimes share clients, but Camacho-Ruiz is here because she inherently understands e-stuff. The other is that Klingberg has a helpful booklet of "37 E-Mail Marketing Tips" that you can find at his pre-Mountain Stream Web site, www.konstanzkom.com. Click voice/coaching and scroll down.

Questions, comments to Jim Kendall, JKendall@121MarketingResources.com.

© 2008 121 Marketing Resources, Inc.