Brian Hawkins of Extreme Ezine offers 10 tips — and one bonus tip — for builiding a successful e-mail marketing campaign.

1. Stay on target — Know your target market and don’t allow yourself to stray off course. Sending e-mail to anyone and everyone will deliver a very low response rate, and can increase your spam complaints. Ask every customer and site visitor if they are interested in receiving e-mail advertisements and promotions from you.

Always include a way for subscribers to opt-in. If they choose not to subscribe, don’t add them to your e-mail marketing database. You are required by law to include an opt-out link in the event the consumer no longer wishes to receive such e-mails from you.

2. Know when to send — Do your own research when trying to find the best time to send e-mail. It’s very easy if you’re using a quality third-party list management service. The best services keep very detailed stats that will let you know everything from how many e-mails were opened to which links were clicked. They can tell you how long it took your subscribers to confirm their e-mails and what country or zip codes they are from. Some even make split-testing a piece of cake. With a quality list management service you can quickly decide when it’s best to e-mail your surbscribers. Play around with the days and times until you achieve the best possible results and then watch closely to stay ahead of the trend, or at the very least to keep up with it.

3. Quality content is king — It’s better to send nothing than to generate a ton of unsubscribes, so only send content your subscribers are interested in. Give them a reason to look forward to opening your e-mails. Special offers or an occasional freebie are good examples. No one cares that your sales are down and you want them to buy something; you need to make them want to read your message and want to act on it. Split testing can do wonders when it comes to knowing what your subscribers want and expect.

4. Leave out the fluff — Keep your e-mails short and to the point. If it’s too lengthy it will more than likely get deleted or saved to be read later. Your goal should be for the reader to open and read the entire message at one time and to act on the content. Keep in mind your subscriber may have hundreds of other e-mails and your message should be clear within seconds of opening.

Newsletters and e-zines are a little different. Quality content should be a newsletter’s goal and going a little long is OK if the topic demands and earns it.

5. Select your JV partners carefully — Joint ventures are a great way for marketers to share their lists while still protecting their subscriber’s privacy and information. Marketer ‘A’ launches a new campaign and offers Marketer ‘B’ a percentage to send the offer to their list. This as a very effective form of marketing and should be encouraged.

6. The subject line is the first impression — Think about all those unopened e-mails you delete everyday. You delete many because you’re not interested in the sender, but what about those subject lines?

Always be truthful. Stay on subject and leave the trickery to the spammers. If you are offering a 50 percent discount then don’t be afraid to state it in the subject line, but be sure it’s accurate.

7. Plan for holidays and special occasions — Many marketers cash in big on holidays. There is a great deal of competition in the world of e-commerce and planning an effective holiday e-mail marketing campaign will help you compete. Start early and build the campaign up a little. Watch the pros and learn from them.

8. Subscribe to yourself — It is important to test your marketing e-mail in various programs including Gmail, Yahoo, MSN, Hotmail and AOL. They all work differently, especially if you’re sending in HTML format. It’s simple to sign up for these various free e-mail accounts and send your e-mail to yourself to see what your subscribers will see.

9. Show you’re trustworthy — Privacy and confidentiality are very important to most consumers. Make sure your e-mail sign up pages clearly state you will not sell subscriber information and that it will be safe with you. Many people won’t give their e-mail to those who don’t offer this bit of information. Never trade lists with other marketers or sell your list for quick cash. Those low-brow tactics are very damaging to the entire industry.

10. Ask them what they want — Don’t make the mistake of assuming you know what your consumers want. Take the time to ask and then consider the answers. Offer an easy way for your subscribers to send their comments, questions and suggestions. Letting them know you are available for such customer service is a great way to earn their loyalty.

10+. Know the laws and rules — Many marketers have had the misfortune of watching their online business fall to it’s knees when they can’t even send a simple support e-mail because they’re on every black list imaginable and spam filters wipe their mail off the Web before it hits most of their subscriber’s inboxes. Make sure you are familiar with the various rules and laws that regulate e-mail marketing.

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