13 Platinum E-mail Marketing Concepts
Of all the collections in this series this is the one most likely to
Why? Because e-mail Marketing is so new. There is little history. Or
experience in learning what works, and what does not.
It is almost humorous there are books on e-mail Marketing. Books of lists
telling you what "to do" and "not to do". Certainly
there are common sense guide lines. Yet, nothing is in concrete. Not yet.
What I'm sharing with you today will change. At another time I'll update
what's here. When we really know what's a fact, and what's not.
Still, we all must start somewhere. In the time between now and later,
while we "wait" until we know what works best and learn what
does not work at all, here is my beginning; 13 Platinum e-mail Marketing
E-mail Marketing Idea #1 - Marketing by Objectives applies
Sometimes when the idea is new basics get trampled. Or worse - ignored.
To enjoy maximum results from your e-mail Marketing campaign you must
have a measurable set of objectives.
Marketing by Objectives is a spin from the "ancient"
concept of several decades ago of Management by Objectives. Thing
is, even thou the idea comes from the past, it is still a valid system
for setting direction. Having a purpose. Establishing a focus.
And then doing what direct marketing does best - measures your program
And, your very specific objectives for your e-mail Marketing program
must compliment objectives for all media. Marketing isn't a competition.
It's not to learn that one way of reaching your customers and prospects
is better than another. It is to get measurable results.
So , have objectives. In that way you will know what to look for. What
to expect. What to plan for. With objectives you begin relationships.
Without objectives you may find your program "wondering about in
the desert", much like Moses. And you, undoubtedly, don't have that
much time to be successful.
E-mail Marketing Idea #2 - It's "faaast" Direct Mail,
Yes, e-mail marketing is direct mail in another format. And it is "faaast".
Cubed. Meaning 3 times the speed. Or more.
Okay, what do I mean? Simply an e-mail message is similar to a
piece of direct mail. The basics that work for good direct mail will work
for e-mail, too. Yet, with e-mail the fundamentals work at near the speed
of sound ... faaast.
This does not mean there is less need for thinking and planning.
No, that will never change. Each and every marketing program, no matter
it's method of delivery, takes time. Takes time to think, to plan, to
Anyone can toss together a few words and get a message out. In early
2001, when this is being written, there are 1.5 billion e-mails sent daily.
Very few of these are E-Marketing. They are e-mail ... they are
not marketing. Many of them are poorly written. Full of mistakes
and grammar errors. Pasted together on the fly - and they read like it.
What "faaast" means is you can be in your marketplace quickly.
And response will be quick, too. Thus, you need to be prepared. Prepared
to respond to the quick response you will receive.
When you create an e-mail Marketing message today, think of it as the
"holiday shopping season"; things happen in a rush ... faaast.
So be prepared accordingly.
E-mail Marketing Idea #3 - Make Your Message Personal
As with every marketing, direct marketing and sales program, being personal
improves response. Ditto e-mail Marketing.
This means your database is still important. In fact, more so. Because
the E-marketplace expects you to treat them as an individual. Personally.
The more you know the more you can say. Within your database is your
collection of knowledge, allowing you to be personal with your message.
Just as you are with direct mail. This fact does not change when you use
electronic media. The entire 1:1 concept of personal communications rises
to a higher level with e-mail Marketing.
Also, as with most communication, friendly, informal, conversational
and everyday language work best to make your message even more personal.
E-mail Marketing Idea #4 - Make an Offer
Yes, we're in a new year.
A new decade. New century. And a new millennium.
Still, the need for an offer does not go away. No, those who can buy
what you sell expect an offer. That's how it has been. That's how it is
today. And that's how it's going to be. In your grandchildrens grandchildrens
lifetime an offer will still be mandatory. Period. It is not debatable.
An offer is an "extra". A motivation. An incentive. A reason
for consideration. Rarely does an offer "make the sale". Frequently
the offer gives reason for the prospect to decide to look at you. With
no offer you allow prospects to walk away. With no offer you leave money
on the table.
Today some feel the World Wide Web is solely price
driven. Not a statement I agree with. And, even if it is so, e-mail is
not the WWW. So, what type offers should you make?
E-mail works like direct mail - only faster. It follows the principles
of Direct Marketing. Meaning an offer that works in mail, in a fax marketing
campaign, over the telephone, in print or broadcast is very likely to
work with e-mail, too.
Oh, and whatever your offer is in other media, it should be the same
for e-mail. Keep it simple - do not confuse your marketplace with a different
offer every time you go out the door. Different in one media from another.
You'll only know what offer to make by trial and error. Test a Limited
Time Offer. Free trial. Premium. Special price. Something
bundled. And whatever you know from experience works in other media. Good
chance it'll work for e-mail Marketing, too.
Give your audience a reason to respond, to buy, to ask for more, to visit
your trade show stand, to surf your web site, to phone you - i.e., to
do something. An offer is a bonus for acting. Include an offer in every
e-mail Marketing message.
E-mail Marketing Idea #5 - Copy is "King"
Direct mail is a "read" medium. e-mail is, too. Meaning, Copy
The difference is the K.I.S.S. principle is more applicable to e-mail
than direct mail; Keep It Short & Simple.
Yet, we marketers must be careful in our writing. And not got hung up
on short or long. Instead think interesting.
At the same time it is imperative to have a quick start with your e-mail
message. You do not have the luxury of a looong introduction. Your stories
must be short. When you talk features and benefits, bullets work. A max
of around 300 words is usually it.
You may feel 300 words are not enough to tell your complete story. So,
do you have options on how and what to write?
Yes. One is the Paul Harvey method; a short intro with a hot link "for
the rest of the story". Your e-mail "talks". With enough
detail for your audience to make a positive decision. And a "hot"
link that takes the reader, if they wish, to a fuller and more complete
message. Behind can be as much back-up, background, support and additional
information as you need. No limit. Just like direct mail.
No matter, know Copy is "King". And that is not going to change
anytime soon. Probably not in your lifetime.
E-mail Marketing Idea #6 - Graphics are for support
First, see Idea #5.
And then know when I write "Graphics are for support" it's
not about E-communication. Nor the "fact" that today many of
your customers are unable to receive an overload of graphics. Either their
computers won't accept them. Or they have decided not to.
It IS your message is with the words. Art, illustrations, graphs and
charts, photography, design, layout and format, graphics of any sort are
to make your message more interesting. To get attention. To be entertaining.
Easier to understand. Anything more than that and you are in danger of
losing your reader.
No matter your "feeling" about leading the pack, offering a
leading edge product and state of the art service, unless your marketplace
is equally capable, your graphics could be "talking" to the
More ... type is graphics, too. So select a type face that is readable.
Although there is no proof yet, in my opinion the same "rules"
that apply to print and mail apply to e-mail and the web. Translation;
a serif type face is best. At a minimum 9 point size ... better at 12.
Why? Because when your prospect prints out your page and holds it to
read it will be readable. In a style that was designed for reading and
a size that works for the 70% of the population that wear glasses or contacts.
This reading concept, and "why" isn't going to change anytime
soon, either. Why so? Because the "fact" is about our eyes -
not marketing. The "fact" is about physiology. About our bodies.
Lastly, the B-2-B marketplace frequently moves quicker than B-2-C. Big
cities sooner than smaller towns. As new technologies come online at faster
and faster speeds, and downloading is as "faaast" as sound when
you turn on a radio, the graphic concept will change. That timing is not
Today graphics are for support. And this is how it will be. For a while.
E-mail Marketing Idea #7 - Your Beginning is an "Envelope"
And just as important!
Yes, the envelope of a direct mail package is the first thing the reader
sees. Thus, what is seen on the envelope determines what your prospect
will do with your mail;
... open, look and read it now,
... stack it for reading at a later time,
... pass it along to another,
... file 13 - trash it immediately.
The reader makes one of these four decisions in just 2 or 3 seconds per
piece of mail! Well . . . ditto the beginning of your e-mail Marketing.
The top of every e-mail message has To / From / CC. The "address"
portion. And the Subject line. These two areas are what your prospect
You have few options with addressing. Except most e-mail programs allow
you to spell out in full your name. If you can, do so. Because time after
time I hear people push "delete" if the mail in their e-mail
in-box is from an unknown. Not just spam . . . any e-mail that is not
recognizable goes bye-bye.
The Subject line could be the most important element in pulling
a reader into your full message. The Subject is the teaser copy
of direct mail. The headline of a print ad. Those few words that grab
your prospect ... or do not.
With both direct mail and print ads we've learned long copy works for
direct response. For headlines and teaser copy. Up to 17 words. There
is another theory that says a 5 word headline ... and a 17 word sub-head.
Either way, long works.
Not so with e-mail Marketing. A very short teaser line or headline ...
3 to 5 words ... seems to work best. "Tease" yes ... tricky,
no. Straight and on target - absolutely. Miss here and you lose. Hit and
you score. It's that black and white.
Take the time it takes to create the very best Subject line.
E-mail Marketing Idea #8 - Copy is both Dialogue and Response
A base characteristic of direct mail is the letter. Time after time,
over and over, tests have proven direct mail with a letter pulls better
than that without. In e-mail Marketing the body copy is the letter.
There are a few differences between mail and e-mail when it comes to
copy. Primary is paragraph length. For mail up to 7 lines of copy works
well. And is readable. For e-mail shorter works better ... 3 or 4 lines
per paragraph max.
Compelling, action oriented copy is still needed. Because of the second
prime direct mail characteristic that applies to e-mail Marketing; there
is always one or more response mechanisms.
Yes, another foundation of direct mail is response. The way your audience
tells you they want more. In mail you include a business response card.
A faxback form. A contact phone number. An order form or application.
And today an e-mail address and web site are frequently included as response
Well, when e-mail becomes a marketing tool for you, you must also include
options. A telephone contact. Fax number. Obvious is an immediate e-mail
And equally obvious is a "hot" link to your WWW site. So when
any prospect is interested in learning more - or becoming a customer!
- they can immediately take some action.
Remember ... it is solid copy that carries your e-mail Marketing message.
E-mail Marketing Idea #9 - Your Signature is
How you sign e-mail is important. As your "signature" says
lots of things.
Here's what should be in every e-mail Marketing signature;
... a real name, and title
... a company name, if possible with your logo
... your web site, with a direct "hot" link to the key pages
... phone & fax numbers for this specific project/product/service/campaign
... a complete "snail-mail" address
... any other contact details for the offer you are making.
Why all this? Because you want to make it easy for your prospects to
find you. To learn more about you. To do business with you. To buy from
Offer a complete signature block on each e-mail Marketing message and
enjoy the results.
E-mail Marketing Idea #10 - A.F.T.O. is still very much "in"
You measure success in direct with results. And you get results when
you A.F.T.O. When you Ask For The Order.
Let's define A.F.T.O. It's not always money in exchange for goods
or service. It can be generating a lead for an inside or outside sales
force. Or traffic through a retail site ... a restaurant, a furniture
store, a business office supply house.
Of course it can be money. A donation for a cause. Or a catalogue mail-order
E-mail is a soft sell discipline. Still, understand that getting a response
requires an effort, as with every other media. And as with all media -
asking more than once is usually necessary to gain a response.
So far the P.S., so important in direct mail, has not become important
in e-mail. Yet, it can play a role. As the P.S. is an excellent place
to repeat your offer, and repeat your call to action. Where you A.F.T.O.
Include a clear A.F.T.O. in every e-mail Marketing message. More
E-mail Marketing Idea #11 - EDIT ... Edit ... edit
For reasons unknown, e-mail is far too frequently put together in a crank-it-out-let-er-fly-the-devil-with-it
Which is not a good way to do very much of anything. And certainly not
for any communication with your customers or prospects. e-mail, or anyway.
Yes, e-mail works best when it's "friendly". With language
that is conversational. Still, basic "English" will keep you
looking good to your customers. You never want to do anything that draws
your audience to the "mistake", vs. your offer and message.
Spelling seems to be a regular problem. The right tense is another frequent
grammar error. An extra word or wrong word also pops up far to often.
Each of these "mistakes" slow reading. And certainly reduce
Take the time to do it right. Edit, edit, edit.
E-mail Marketing Idea #12 - Understand Opt-in & out, Privacy
- Need to know.
- Nice to know.
- None of your business!
Ken Magill, editor of iMarketing News, is a wonderful writer.
And right-on with this 3-part thinking.
Sure, need and nice to know are sales axioms from way back. The difference
between what it takes to get an order, vs. other information, is a base
in every sales training class. The same principles apply to marketing
None of your business is what Privacy is all about. Although
it is difficult to describe the "P" word in a single sentence
"Privacy is using knowledge about customers and prospects in a respectful
And know that some knowledge is truly "none
of your business." Respecting that truth is mandatory.
Security is how you protect the knowledge you have of your customers.
The records are "private". Keeping it all that way is security.
And it applies to more than financial and medical. It applies to whatever
the customer says it applies to.
Opt-in / Opt-out is the philosophy that makes e-mail Marketing
"different" from other direct marketing techniques. It refers
to the E-phrase "permission". Meaning, before you send an E-Marketing
message you should obtain permission to do so.
We don't ask permission before sending direct mail. Or making a telemarketing
call. Or a fax marketing message. Yes, we respect peoples wishes. If our
prospect asks NOT to receive direct mail, or phone calls or a fax - we
accept that request. It's an easy request to fulfill. We just do it.
E-mail Marketing is different. It is different because it requires permission
BEFORE sending a message. Before you A.F.T.O. And until further
notice, that isn't going to change. Getting permission through an Opt-in
process is mandatory. Know it. And do it. Period.
E-mail Marketing Idea #13 - TEST, Test, test!
In the beginning of this article I said none of us know much about e-mail
Really what it is and how to make it work to the max. Which means
testing - another fundamental of direct marketing - applies. In spades.
As with everything in direct, you can test just about everything. Certainly
the "envelope" ... the subject line. The "letter"
and "response" device. The copy. And the offer, for sure the
offer. As you never know, until you test, how to get better results.
In the "faaast" world of marketing and sales many times I hear
"there is no time to test". Which may mean there is no time
to do it right. Which means we're back to planning. And Idea #1 in this
Bakers Dozen Collection; Marketing by Objectives.
Which further means timing and budget are as important for e-mail Marketing
as for every marketing program. There is no difference. So TEST, Test,
That's it. The 2001 version of 13 Platinum e-mail Marketing
Concepts. As e-mail Marketing develops, changes, grows this list will,
too. And I'll be back.