Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Get Abstract Summary of "The Edge"

The EdgeAllen P. Adamson
Allen P. Adamson and Foreword by Steve Forbes, The Edge, published 2013 Copyright © Allen P. Adamson, 2013. Reproduced with permission of Palgrave Macmillan
getAbstract © 2013

Rating (10 is best)

Overall: 8
Applicability: 8
Innovation: 6
Style: 7


  • Branding is more than marketing or ads. It is the sum of everything that communicates a message about a brand.
  • A brand is the meaning consumers attribute to the name of a product or service.
  • Consumers should consider your brand different, relevant and valuable.
  • Customers should know what to expect from your brand and should always get what they expect.
  • Make sure that all of your customers’ “points of touch” with your brand are positive.
  • “Brand drivers” are short, memorable marketing messages that provide buyers with information about a brand.
  • For consumers, one negative experience with a brand is more memorable than 100 positive encounters.
  • What your company does defines your brand.
  • Heed what consumers say and improve your brand accordingly.
  • Select and use the communication channels that best support your brand.


What You Will Learn

In this summary, you will learn: 1) What a brand is, 2) What branding is, 3) What factors make brands long-lived and successful, and 4) How you can define your brand.


How do Apple, GE, IBM and Procter & Gamble remain successful brands? Branding expert Allen P. Adamson explains strategies these companies use that you can adopt to sharpen your branding edge. He details how to deal with branding challenges in today’s hypercompetitive marketplace and outlines 50 tips your company can utilize daily to stay ahead in the never-ending branding race. In a rare slip, Adamson says Super Bowl ads are sold in 30- and 60-minute chunks; think of 30 and 60 seconds instead, and don’t hold the typo against him – that would be bad for his brand. getAbstractrecommends his sound, worldly advice to marketing professionals, entrepreneurs, start-ups, home businesses and anyone trying to stand out in an overheated, overcrowded marketplace.



Some people mistakenly believe that a brand’s success depends on a clever, compelling advertising campaign. Such promotion is vital, but another consideration matters more to marketing professionals: What do consumers think about their brand, and what makes it special to them? Successful products and services benefit from powerful advertising and other branding activities, as well.
A brand is the meaning consumers attribute to the name of a product or service. Branding is embedding that specific idea in the minds of consumers. It includes the brand’s marketing messages, logo, packaging, where and how it is sold, its tweet references and Facebook “likes,” its placement in movies and everything else that communicates a message to consumers. Marketers who understand what type of branding works best for their specific goods have a competitive advantage. Brands must always fulfill their promises, which in the consumer’s mind are stated or implied in stories they’ve heard about the brand. Marketers must create “brand drivers” – that is, “a simple, sticky set of words or a phrase” – that best communicate a brand’s message.
Branding encompasses your company’s messages and consumer experiences, product functionality and customer service, and your social media presence and corporate social responsibility quotient.

“Relative Differentiation”

To gain a competitive edge, brands must be different. They must establish a “relative differentiation” that sets them apart from their rivals. Brands need consumers to discuss them in positive terms. Only products with energy and momentum can earn that crucial buzz. Like any successful person, a powerful brand must have a personality that explains, “who it is and why it’s motivated to do what it does.”
You must inspire consumers to tell positive stories about your brand. Authentic word of mouth generates powerful brand loyalty. Companies with great stories to tell can exploit social media in today’s “transparent, talkative marketplace.” Study and discern which branding channels you should leverage to promote your brand in this dynamic medium. Only utilize channels or networks “where [you] can play and win.”
Contemporary consumers – particularly young people – want to do business with companies that manifest a noble purpose. Consumers no longer care about purely commercial transactions. They want what they buy to matter. Brands that promise to make a positive contribution to solving some of the world’s problems will sell more – if they keep their word.

Special, Relevant and Energetic

The ad agency Young & Rubicam created a useful “proprietary, diagnostic tool,” the BrandAsset Valuator, to measure how a brand performs compared to “all other brands in the market,” not only those in its category, based on five criteria:
  1. “Differentiation” – Your brand must be “unique.” Interact with your consumers to find out how they regard your brand differently from others in your market.
  2. “Relevance” – How much does your brand differentiation matter to consumers? Your product or service must make the lives of your customers better over the long term.
  3. “Esteem” – How much do consumers value your brand? Procter & Gamble (P&G) is a brand champion that consumers respect. Tide Dry Cleaners, which are retail operations, have succeeded, in part, because they can trade on the famous P&G product name, which evokes decades of proven experience in fabric care.
  4. “Knowledge” – How familiar are consumers with your brand. Do they know and appreciate it? Engage them with stories that are simple, direct and easy to remember.
  5. “Energy” – Is your brand “dynamic”? Can it “adapt and evolve”? Does it generate buzz on the web? Does it excite people? Those are your goals. As authors Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum state in their book That Used to Be Us, “Average is over.”

Who? Why? What? and How?

“Who stands for ‘truth, justice and the American way’?” It’s the comic book hero, Superman, who is “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.” The memorable, universally popular image of Superman, like any super brand, is a simple, focused, “sticky” idea. Superman’s persona and abilities fully define his brand.
Superman is a character and a brand people identify with immediately. Consumers – those who buy comic books and watch movies, and even those who don’t – understand exactly who and what the Superman brand represents. They support the elevated values the brand and the character exemplify. Superman is authentic. Define your brand and a “well-rounded set of character traits” that best describe it. Ensure that your staff understands, hones and never deviates from your brand traits. Those attributes make your brand promise a reality.
Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Barbra Streisand and Madonna are brands many people know, like and understand. Dylan, Jagger and Streisand exemplify the traditional approach to branding: Develop a carefully defined idea of what your brand represents, and consistently deliver on that concept. Consumers should know what to expect from your brand and they should always get it. During the course of her career, Madonna routinely reinvented her brand, her “musical self.” This regular transformation is part of her “brand’s DNA.” Madonna provides quality entertainment with an edge. Her own ultimate brand, she is always true to the values, aspects and identifiers she defined as intrinsic to that persona.

What a Brand Does

Every brand makes a promise to consumers; its actions define whether it keeps that promise. Brands that do not deliver on their promises fail. Companies must communicate their brand’s primary “intent through action.” Consumers care about that intent.
For example, Procter & Gamble demonstrates its good intentions. Through its popular Pampers-UNICEF program, P&G donates the cost of a child’s tetanus vaccine for every package of diapers it sells. “People are definitely embracing brands that are purpose-inspired and benefit-driven,” says Marc Pritchard, P&G’s global brand-building officer. “As such, over the years, we’ve taken the mantle of corporate social responsibility and put it into brand action.” The program works because P&G matches Pampers’ brand purpose – healthy babies – with protecting children from disease. Consumers understand and appreciate the link between Pampers and its “social purpose.”

Communicate Your Story

To ensure that your brand’s activities communicate its story, heed these tips:
  • Make sure that consumers understand your brand’s purpose.
  • Consumers’ experiences with your brand must align with that purpose.
  • Hard research data can help you “guide your branding initiatives.” Trust your gut feelings about what works for your brand and what doesn’t.
  • Your brand’s meaning matters a lot. Therefore, teach your workforce “what it means to ‘be the brand’.”
  • When it comes to branding, execution is far more important than strategy.
  • One negative experience with a brand lingers longer in consumers’ memories than 100 positive experiences.

Satisfied Customers

Word of mouth is a powerful promotional medium. Social media amplify word of mouth. Brand messages that go viral on the Internet become popular with millions of consumers. However, don’t think that you can just dial up a viral video on YouTube. That’s not how social media work. Attention spans are short, so getting people to pay attention to any single message is a challenge. Getting millions of people to do so online, eagerly, is infinitely more complex. Therefore, catching lightning in a bottle should not be your goal. Instead, “Do the right thing all the time.” Make sure that “every point of touch with your brand” is uniformly wonderful for consumers. Issue newsworthy branding messages that people will want to pass along.

“Branding Channels”

You want to tell consumers that your brand is different and special, but where should you communicate that message? Consider where your brand comes into contact with consumers. Which touchpoints have the most potential to make consumers feel good about your brand? Where can your brand create the maximum amount of brand awareness? With so many branding channels now available, these questions are hard to answer. To determine the best channels for your brand, do the following:
  • You need a clear branding objective.
  • Choose the right channels that reinforce your branding message. You must also develop your own branding channels, like packaging for your products or truck signs for your fleet vehicles.
  • Quality branding requires careful planning. Make sure that “the medium, the moment and the message” work well together.
  • Communicate your branding message to mass audiences through classic media options, such as television.
  • Using coupons and placing your brand on the shelves (“end-caps”) at the end of a store’s aisle can contribute to your branding strategy.

Social Media

Consumers control the communication of your story. Get them on your side by delivering authentic information that interests them and that they’ll want to share. To communicate your brand message via social media, remember:
  • You don’t control word of mouth. Benefit from it by heeding what others say about you and improving your brand accordingly.
  • Make your branding story short and sweet so people can quickly and easily pass it on.
  • People won’t share commonplace “branding experiences,” so be extraordinary.
  • When you receive or intercept positive messages about your brand, thank the senders.

The Long Haul

Plan and prepare your branding campaign for the long haul, not just a short sprint. Never become complacent. Your competitors are right behind you, running as fast as they can to pass you. Maintain your focus on that race. Successful brands “never lose sight of their core meaning to people, but they need to keep identifying ways to stay competitive as the market moves forward,” says Stewart Owen, chief strategic officer at the mcgarrybowen advertising agency. To keep your eye on both the immediate bounce of the ball and the long-range game, remember:
  • Don’t expect consumers to communicate precisely what they think brands in your sector should deliver. Do your field research.
  • Even brands with a decades-long marketplace position must fight to remain continually relevant.
  • Adopt a beta-mode mind-set for your brand – routinely improve and reinvent your brand to stay current and competitive.
  • Maintain your balance during this constant evolution. Do not stray from your brand’s core meaning.
  • You are not racing for a finish line. The branding race never ends.

About the Author

Allen P. Adamson, managing director of the New York office of global branding strategists Landor Associates, writes a bimonthly column for


  • “The most powerful companies...are smart and acute enough to see what’s coming up next, what consumers want and need, and nimble enough to cover the turf...keeping in mind who they are and what they represent as brands.”
  • “The marketplace is being rapidly and overwhelmingly commoditized, pushing innovators and manufacturers to turn things upside down and inside out in their search for the next new thing.”
  • “A company’s purpose is to help people understand not just what sells, but what its brand stands for.”
  • “To survive, let alone gain a leading edge, identifying something that consumers have never seen before and that they can really use is essential.”
  • “Brand success takes a long-term view and is built on what consumers really want and can genuinely use to make their lives better in some substantial way.”
  • “Mass marketing, when you do it right, is still an incredible opportunity, and remains a crucial part of brand building.”
  • “Companies want their brands to be seen as having a purpose beyond the products or services they provide.”
  • “Purpose is not simply a marketing program and should not be perceived or communicated as such.”
  • “Consumers can see behind the curtain and want to align themselves with brands that align themselves with initiatives that make the world a better place.”
  • “Who a company is and what it stands for can play a significant strategic role in helping consumers make purchase decisions.”
  • “If a brand stays relevant but starts to lose what made it different, it will become a commodity.”
  • “A brand’s persona must be genuinely relevant to the brand.”
  • “Authenticity is one of the benchmarks of brand success.”
  • “In branding there is no final destination. It’s a journey.”

Start-Up Success with Venture for America

Departures Magazine

© Courtesy Venture for America

Top graduates are rejecting corporate life for a new program that puts young talent on the fast track.

For former attorney Andrew Yang, the problem was obvious: Why should consulting and investment-banking jobs attract so many of America’s brightest grads when their talent could be put to better use? The trouble, as Yang saw it, was the lack of recruitment, so in 2011 he created Venture for America, replicating elements of the thriving Teach for America model, in which recent grads sign on for two-year positions at public schools in low-income communities. Instead of teaching, however, VFA fellows work two-year positions at start-ups in economically distressed cities.
“I hoped that if we could channel more of our young people to grow enterprises,” Yang says, “everyone could benefit.” Yang assembled a board of directors and signed on big-name partners, including Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and UBS. Two years later, the 2013 class of 68 fellows (drawn from more than 500 candidates) has worked at start-ups in cities including Detroit and New Orleans in fields such as genomic data sequencing and cybersecurity. Though starting salaries range from $35,000 to $38,000 a year (a fraction of the six-figure sums established companies offer), VFA fellows are confident that initial sacrifice will pay off long-term.
Competition also helps—part of UBS’s contribution is an annual $100,000 prize for the best pitches. And despite the touchy-feely halo surrounding Venture for America, these kids are type A alphas who play to win. Cornell graduate Edie Feinstein typifies the attitude of a VFA fellow: “We haven’t come up with our million-dollar idea yet,” she says. “But we will.”
To learn more about Venture for America, go to

Intuit: Thinking like a startup

Article from the November 2013 issue of Talent Management Magazine.
By Chris Galy and Rick Jensen

AudioTech Summary of "Successful E-Mail Marketing Strategies: From Hunting to Farming"

by Arthur Middleton Hughes and Arthur Sweetser
A summary of the original text.

Successful E-Mail Marketing Strategies, summarized by arrangement with Racom Communications, Inc., from Successful E-Mail Marketing Strategies:  From Hunting to Farming by Arthur Middleton Hughes and Arthur Sweetser.  Copyright © 2009 by Arthur Middleton Hughes and Arthur Sweetser.    
In this summary...

·                  Discover how to use e-mail as an effective tool for finding new customers and mining existing customers more profitably.
·                  Build relationships with your customers by taking a farming approach, instead of hunting for sales by sending millions of e-mails.
·                  Develop state-of-the-art e-mail marketing strategies to turn more prospects into loyal customers, segment your customers, and make more money for your company.
·                  Learn why the subject line is the single, most-important element in a promotional e-mail, and the eight rules for writing powerful subject lines.
·                  Win with transactional and triggered e-mails, which have open rates of up to 90 percent, vs. promotional e-mail’s open rates of 13 percent.
Successful E-Mail Marketing Strategies
Something new, sophisticated, and wonderful has happened to the marketing industry:  e-mail marketing.  New because it's only about 15 years old, having started in a big way only in 1998.  Sophisticated because it permits marketers to do very targeted and interactive marketing.  And wonderful because, when used correctly, it produces more bottom-line results per dollar than any other marketing method ever developed. 
There are two basic ways to approach e-mail marketing today.  The first is the traditional way — hunting for sales — which involves blasting identical e-mails to millions of unknown subscribers.
The second way — farming — involves sending personalized, relevant e-mail communications to individual subscribers based on a database of demographic and behavioral information. 
Most e-mail marketers today are engaged in hunting.  They know little about their subscribers except their e-mail addresses.  They are unaware of their subscriber's ages, incomes, lifestyles, off-line purchases, children in the home, or any of about a hundred relevant facts that are usually known to database marketing professionals. 
Like hunters, they set out their traps, in the form of e-mails, in a wilderness of unknown subscribers, hoping that some of them will be caught.  It is getting harder to succeed because there are more traps set by a growing number of hunters.
Farming, on the other hand, is quite different.  Each permission-based e-mail subscriber is listed in a marketing database with a wealth of demographic, behavioral, and preference data.  It is possible today to send a different promotional e-mail to every single customer — an e-mail tailored to what you can learn of the customer's preferences, behavior, and lifestyle.
These marketing e-mails can produce amazing results in increased retention and sales that beat anything that could come from any other form of marketing.
This type of e-mail marketing allows marketers to build one-on-one relationships by learning each customer's personal preferences, and then delivering to her exactly what she wants.  It's what the old corner grocers used to do.
Before there were supermarkets, groceries were sold in small grocery stores.  In many cases, the proprietor stood at the entrance, greeting the customers by name.  He got to know each customer personally, and what she liked to buy.
Most of these grocers no longer exist.  As businesses have gotten bigger, it's gotten harder to get to know customers.  But now, with e-mail marketing, a large corporation can build relationships with its customers that re-create the recognition and loyalty that the corner grocer built.
To get from here to there, you will need to do a number of things:

1.              Build a database to hold all the information you'll need to create effective e-mails.  The database should store everything you've learned and serve up information to draft the e-mail so they seem like a conversation to subscribers.
2.              Get your customers' e-mail addresses and names, and use them to personalize your conversation.  Personalized e-mail are opened more, clicked more, and sell more.
3.              Create segments.  Depending on your business, you can create marketing segments:  college students, families with young children, affluent seniors, or small businesses.
4.              Keep track of your customer's lifecycle.  There is a big difference between buyers and people who have never bought anything from you.  When they buy something, welcome them and thank them.  If they buy a lot, tell them how much you appreciate their business. 
5.              Make every e-mail interactive.  Every e-mail should be filled with interactive links:  preference centers, polls, surveys, drill-downs, and paths to more information. 
There are two broad categories of marketing e-mails:  promotional e-mails and transactional e-mails. 

·                  Promotional e-mails say, "Here is what we have.  Review it, and click on anything that interests you.  You can buy it online by clicking here right now, or go to one of our stores to get it." 
·                  Transactional e-mails occur after a purchase is made.  They thank the customer for the order, let her know that the order has shipped, and give her the tracking number for the shipment.

The Case for Farming
Database marketing is analogous to farming because when doing it, you study the customers and prospects (your domestic livestock) instead of the campaigns (the traps for wild animals).  You create a database of business or consumer prospects and customers. 
By asking for a street address, you can append more than 100 fields of relevant data to more than 90 percent of all consumers and businesses from compiled sources like AmeriLINK.  With consumers, you can learn their exact age, their estimated income, wealth, housing type, whether they rent or own, length of residence, marital status, children, ethnicity, direct mail responsiveness, credit worthiness, and dozens of other facts.  For business customers, you can learn annual revenue and number of employees.  These data cost just $0.04 to $0.05 per subscriber.
In these databases, you also record your prospects' online and off-line behavior: 

·                  Did they open, click, download, complete a profile, or fill out a preference form? 
·                  Did they buy something online, from a catalog, or from a retail store? 
·                  What was it, when was it, how much did they pay? 
·                  What promotions have they received? 
·                  Where do they live?
Armed with this data, you can create subscriber segments, such as affluent retired, college students, families with young children, condo dwellers, home office owners, major league sports attendees, frequent travelers, and golfers.  You can then create marketing messages specifically for each profitable segment. 
Companies that have done this find that a personalized customized message to a profitable segment has much higher open, click, and conversion rates than a one-size-fits-all blasted e-mail promotion.
If your prospect list contains only a name and an e-mail address, however, it's impossible to get appended demographics.  You have no idea who these people are, making it very difficult to send relevant e-mail.
Some advanced e-mail marketers are turning to database marketing because blasted e-mails have begun to lose their effectiveness now that everyone is doing it.  Open, click, and conversion rates are falling.  Unsubscribes, undeliverables, and spam designation rates are going up.  The return from the hunt is falling because too many hunters are chasing the same subscribers.
E-mail marketing based on database marketing, on the other hand, is becoming more productive.  E-mail recipients open e-mails from trusted sources that consistently send them personalized, customized content of interest to them. 
This is the future of e-mail marketing:  putting your prospects and customers into marketing databases, using the databases to create marketing segments, and designing custom marketing strategies for each segment. 

Farming Subscribers
The way to measure performance is to focus on the subscriber, rather than the campaign.  Again, this is the difference between hunting and farming. 
Campaigns are easier to measure.  Tracking systems have been set up so that e-mail marketers can count opens, clicks, conversions, and unsubscribes.
Studying subscribers is more complicated.  It requires learning about each subscriber and putting that knowledge into a marketing database.  The database is used to create subscriber segments that, in turn, are used to craft personalized messages designed to appeal to each subscriber. 
Subscriber performance measurement is more profitable in the long run.  You learn each subscriber's physical mailing address.  You track everything a subscriber does on your Web site, while reading your e-mails, while shopping at your retail stores, and when calling your catalog desk.  You add all this to your subscriber database.  You then use the database to manage these customers.  The goal is to understand these subscribers, maintain contact with them, build their loyalty to your company, and boost sales through personalized communications.
The first key technique in the farming process centers on the customer-marketing database because it contains all your subscribers, customers, and former customers.  It may contain not just the subscriber's e-mail address but also many other fields as well, including:

·                  Name and street address
·                  Date of birth, income, wealth, education, marital status, children
·                  Type of housing, house value, own vs. rent
·                  Purchases made online, from catalogs, and in retail stores
·                  Promotions and transactional e-mails sent
·                  Record of clicks, downloads and Web visits
·                  Loyalty program points, subscriber preferences, and special interests
·                  Segment and status level into which the subscriber has been put
·                  Source of the subscriber and the source date
The idea is to put all you know about the various individuals who have registered their e-mail address with you or bought something from you into a relational database.  When you send promotional e-mails, you select names from this database. 
To farm your subscribers, you must know a lot of information about them.  How can you get it?  There are at least four methods that work. 

·                  First, capture events.  Keep track of everything they do, including which e-mails they open, what they click, and what they buy in any channel. 
·                  Second, you can gather preferences.  Ask customers what they prefer. 
·                  Third, you can infer their preferences.  By studying what your customer does on your Web site, in your e-mails, with your catalog, or in your retail stores, you can infer what she is interested in.
·                  Finally, you can append data, which you can get from one of the four major consumer data compilers in the U.S.  For about $0.04 for each subscriber, you can get demographic data appended to a consumer's entry that contains an accurate street address. 
Now that you have the data on your subscribers stored in a database, your job is to make the subscribers happy with your company and its services.  You want them to read your communications, be loyal, and purchase lots of products.  You divide them into useful segments, such as college students, seniors, married with children, and home-office workers, and develop a marketing strategy for each segment.  Their database records will be the focal point for all future contacts and communications.
Once you have relevant information in your subscriber file, you can stop sending e-mails about lawn mowers to people who live in high-rise apartments or condos.  You can stop sending e-mails about baby food to houses whose occupants are all over 60.  You can start sending e-mails about life insurance that are relevant to subscribers' incomes. 
What's wrong with sending an e-mail offering a $2,000 life insurance policy to a consumer whose income is $150,000?  It's not relevant.  The consumer opens the e-mail and sees that his bank does not understand him at all.  He may not open another e-mail from that bank in the future as a result.  It has lost the chance to sell him a $100,000 home equity loan with an irrelevant life insurance e-mail.
Before you had a customer database, you had no way of knowing your offer wasn't relevant to some of your depositors.  You sent e-mails to everyone on your list and hoped for the best.
With your database, you can begin farming subscribers and give up hunting for them.  Determine what type of person would buy each of your products or services.  One way to do this is to consult your database of existing customers.  Figure out the characteristics of those who bought the product compared to those who didn't buy it.
Create a profile of the typical buyer, and use it to select subscribers from your database that fit the profile.  Create e-mails just for them.  To make sure you are doing this correctly, also create a control group:  subscribers selected at random from your database without regard to demographics or behavior.
For example, from a database of 2 million subscribers, 273,334 people were selected who matched the buyer profile of a particular product and sent a promotional e-mail.  Of these people, 842 people purchased the product. 
At the same time, 20,000 randomly selected subscribers were sent the same e-mail.  Three of them bought the product. 
What would have happened if the company had randomly selected the original 273,334?  Assuming the same purchase rate, 41 people would have bought the product, and 3,553 people would have unsubscribed because the e-mail was irrelevant to them.
You have a limited number of chances to be relevant to your subscriber base.  Every time you send them something they aren't interested in, you turn some of them off, and your unsubscribe rate goes up. 
So what will you offer to the remaining subscribers?  This is where farming your subscribers becomes very useful.  Three techniques can help you discover what your subscribers want:  link categorization, collaborative filtering, and the NPB (next best product).
Every time a link in one of your e-mails is clicked, an invisible beacon in the e-mail sends a packet back to your server that in effect says, "Show this subscriber the link's landing page."  Your e-mail tracking software will keep track of who clicked the link and what the link was.  It will store this information in the subscriber's database record.  Your job is to categorize the links so you can use the information later.
From the links, you can learn what each subscriber is interested in.  In designing the next e-mail to this subscriber, you should first research all the links she clicked.  If you have a good categorization system, you will know that she is interested in books on, say, interior design and European furniture.  In addition to anything else you plan to communicate with her about, these two subjects should be included in some way.
This is powerful information.  Such an advanced farming technique makes the subscriber feel that you are really paying attention to her and her interests, just as a corner grocer would.
A second key technique is collaborative filtering.  The idea is to make automatic predictions about a user's interests by collecting information from many similar users.  Both Amazon and Netflix use this technique. 
The underlying assumption of collaborative filtering is that those who agreed in the past tend to agree again in the future.  For example, a collaborative filtering for music tastes could predict which music a user will like, given a partial list of that user's likes or dislikes.  These predictions are specific to the particular person but uses information gleaned from many subscribers.
Netflix asks each member to report on movies they liked and those they didn't like.  From the reports of millions of people, it is able to create "soul mates" — people who have likes and dislikes in common. 
For example, if Netflix knows you like Jane Austen, Alfred Hitchcock, and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and dislike "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives," it can pair you with "soul mates" who have the same likes and dislikes.  Knowing that, it can predict that you are likely to want to see a new movie based on what your soul mates thought of that particular movie.
Collaborative filtering is very powerful.  It can produce outstandingly successful results.  GUS, the largest cataloger in the UK, used this software to increase its cross-sale rate from 20 percent to 40 percent by correctly identifying the next product customers would like to hear about, based on their soul mates' preferences.
The third technique is NBP analysis.  Suppose you have promoted a particular product to a group of subscribers in the past.  Of subscribers getting the promotion, only 3 percent buy it.  You select 6,000 buyers of the product who bought it as a result of an e-mail, and 30,000 of those who got the same e-mail but did not buy.
Using segmentation and analytics, you can calculate the likelihood of a particular customer being interested in buying each of your products, based on the segment she is in and the percentage interest in each product demonstrated by members of that particular segment. 
It is possible to use demographics and behavior to create a NBP for every subscriber on your database.  As a result of promoting customers by their individual NBPs instead of blasting everyone with your product of the month, you can greatly increase the open, click, and conversion rates and reduce the unsubscribe rate. 
No matter how clever your one-size-fits-all e-mails are, personalized, segmented, targeted e-mails based on farming a subscriber database will be more relevant and profitable.  You can prove that by testing on a small scale.  Once you know that farming works better, get busy and do it.

Relevant E-mails
Forrester Research reports that about 72 percent of North American online consumers "delete most e-mail advertising without reading it."  Why?  A primary reason is that the e-mail doesn't contain content that is relevant to the recipient's current interests. 
Nearly three-quarters of respondents to a Merkle study ranked irrelevancy as their top reason for unsubscribing from a company's e-mail program.
Relevant e-mail has content that relates to the recipient's location, interests, attributes, behavior, and other factors that grab her attention. Relevance increases e-mail productivity by improving opens, clicks, conversions, revenue, and profit.
The relevance of an e-mail can be measured by six factors, each of which contributes to making a particular e-mail message relevant to the reader.

1.              Segmentation.  Divide subscribers into segments based on their particular demographics, lifestyle, preferences, locations, or behavior.  Use different marketing strategies for each segment.
2.              Lifecycle management.  Customer lifecycles could be defined as prospects, first-time buyers, multibuyers, advocates, or lapsed customers.  Send different e-mails to each group.
3.              Triggers.  Send trigger e-mails based on a subscriber's life events, such as making a first purchase, having a birthday, or achieving gold status.
4.              Personalization.  Use the subscriber's name in the e-mail salutation.  Then vary the e-mail's content based on what you have learned about her preferences, previous purchases, clicks, downloads, and so on.
5.              Interactivity.  Every e-mail should be an adventure:  full of links to products, polls, surveys, drill-downs, and downloads.
6.              Testing and Measurement.  Test the audience, subject line, offer, content, and frequency.  Study the tests, draw conclusions, and make changes to make e-mails better and better.
Relevance sounds like a nice idea, but how do you know that relevant e-mail marketing programs, as defined by these six factors, are more successful than other e-mail marketing programs?
JupiterResearch has answered this question.  It used actual e-mail performance data to establish that relevant e-mails produced more conversions, revenue, and profit than one-size-fits-all broadcast e-mails did. 
In its research, JupiterResearch established that targeting tactics such as segmentation with dynamic content produced 5 times more revenue and 16 times more profit than did broadcast campaigns.
The relevance of e-mail marketing programs is measured on a scale of 0 to 3.  The success of each of the six relevance factors is graded by the following criteria:
A score of 3 means the e-mail uses this factor on more than half of e-mail programs in a sophisticated way; 2 means the e-mail uses this factor on between one-quarter and one-half of e-mails in a sophisticated way; 1 means the e-mail uses this factor on less than one quarter of e-mails in an unsophisticated way; and 0 means it does not use this factor at all.
To convert your e-mails into communications that your subscribers will be delighted to receive, calculate your own e-mail program relevance.  Take an honest look at the product you are delivering and score your e-mail campaigns on the 0-to-3 scale for each of the six relevance factors.
Then create a plan to improve each relevance factor.  Let's take personalization as an example. 
Make a list of the things that should be done.  For example:

·                  Welcome visitors to your Web site by name by using cookies.
·                  Provide a similar salutation, using the subscriber's name, in each e‑mail.
·                  Organize e-mail content around what you know about the customer:  her previous purchases, what she clicked on in previous visits to your Web site or in your e-mails, and her expressed preferences.
·                  Provide plenty of opportunities for her to share her opinion and preferences.
What kind of results can you expect from personalization?  Williams-Sonoma tested personalized images and saw conversions increase 50 percent.  Golfsmith saw revenue jump 167 percent when it used personalization. 

E-mail Marketing to Subscriber Segments
To create relevant e-mails, you first have to divide your subscribers into segments.
Most e-mail marketers today are at the primitive level of segmentation; all they know about most of their subscribers is their e-mail address.
There are some things that you can do to send more relevant e-mails, however, even if you are in this situation.
Primitive subscriber segmentation can be broken down into six areas:

·                  Purchase behavior, such as buyer vs. non-buyer
·                  E-mail activity, such as active clicker vs. non-clicker
·                  Web activity, such as added items to cart vs. never visited site
·                  Tenure on database, such as within 30 days vs. more than 90 days
·                  Channel shopped, such as on Web vs. at store
·                  Click categorization, based on number of clicks on opened e-mails
At a minimum, separate subscribers into buyers and non-buyers.  Many e‑mail marketers have a million or more subscribers, but less than 10 percent of them have ever bought anything online.  You have little excuse for treating them alike; buyers should be treated better.
Another thing a primitive segment marketer must do is to have a preference profile button in every e-mail.  The more information you have on each subscriber, the faster you can move to advanced segmentation. 
The preference center should ask for the information you need to make that leap, such as street address, the category of products the subscriber is most interested in, and demographics such as income, presence of children, type of home, own vs. rent, and length of residence. 
Offer your subscribers a discount on their first order if they complete the preference profile.  Soon you will have enough data to use advanced segmentation tactics.
Say you have the opt-in e-mail addresses with profile and preference data on 1 million customers.  How will you create e-mail content that each customer would consider relevant?
Create less than a dozen customer segments, and design particular e-mail content for each segment.  You can break segmentation marketing into four main tasks:

1.              Getting data about your customers that can be used to put them into segments and to design content for the e-mails sent to them.
2.              Creating workable segments based on your customer base and the information you can collect.
3.              Designing marketing programs for each segment, managing the segments, and sending relevant e-mails to each segment.
4.              Creating reports on each segment, reviewing your success, then revising your marketing program based on the reports.
Every time a customer opens an e-mail, clicks, or buys a product or service, the data should be stored in your database.
A major online retailer of bags and accessories, eBags, wanted to identify the day and time it should send promotional e-mails to generate the highest response rates and online sales.  The company decided the best time to reach each customer would be the same day and time the customer had originally opted in.  It reasoned that if the customer's schedule afforded her time to opt in, it might also be the best time for her to consider an offer and make an online purchase.
To test this segmentation strategy, eBags sent promotions to recipients on the same day of the week and time of day as they had originally opted in.  The results were amazing.  Compared with a control group's results, the test group's click-throughs were 20 percent higher, and conversion rates increased by 65 percent.  The average order size was 45 percent higher, while the average revenue per recipient was 187 percent more than the control group.
This is really a great segmentation idea.  Most marketers keep track of the date and time that subscribers subscribed already.  See if you can match these outstanding results.
Many operational systems record purchases by item number.  But how will you use this information to create a segment?
To make sense out of the data, get a spreadsheet file of a couple thousand transactions.  As you look at the records, think about how to categorize them, then sort them in different ways until something clicks in your head. 
Some people buy only sale items.  Some buy top-of-the-line merchandise.  Some buy women's apparel.  You are on your way to creating segments that you can use for e-mail marketing.
Once you have spent a week or two doing this kind of analysis, you can come up with a method of categorizing purchases that enables you to put your customers into different segments for some campaigns based on purchase data.  Armed with this method, you can develop some business rules that enable your database managers to categorize purchases by your scheme.
As noted earlier, with a consumer's name and street address, you can get demographic data appended to your customer file.  The data include about 100 fields of information that can be really useful in creating segments.  After all, you wouldn't send the same e-mails to a couple over 65 that you would to college students or to families with young children.
Start by getting the demographic data for a file of 100,000 customers.  Categorize these customers' purchases by the when and the what, and see if by blending all three together you can create a meaningful segmentation scheme.  While you do this, keep thinking, "How can I use this information to help create relevant e-mails for this customer?"

Creating Powerful Subject Lines
A relevant e-mail starts with a great subject line.  In fact, the subject line is the single, most-important element in a promotional e-mail.  If the subject line isn't relevant, interesting, and stimulating, the e-mail will never be opened, and everything else you have put into the e-mail will be wasted because no one will ever see it.
You should spend most of your creative energy on the subject line.  The copy and offer are important, of course, but the subject line is always more important.  Pick the subject first, then write copy that delivers on the subject line's promise. 
As you draft your subject lines, follow these rules.

1.              Tell rather than sell.  The best subject lines tell the subscriber what's inside, while the worst ones try to sell what's inside.  The stronger the commercial pitch in the subject line, the less likely it's going to be opened.
2.              Think like a customer, not like a marketer.  Your e-mail readers are interested in one thing:  What's in it for them?  Write with that in mind; write about the benefits that matter to them, not features that matter to you. 
3.              Don't use first and last names in the subject line.  Personalization is very important for e-mail content, but that rule doesn't apply to subject lines.  Spammers steal names from the Internet and use them in the subject line.  But the recipient is smart enough to know the message is spam.
Don't use names in your subject lines, or you will be considered a spammer.  A MailerMailer study showed that e-mails with personalized subject lines did worse than those with no personalization at all.
4.              Use your company name in the subject line.  Many studies have shown that putting your company name in the sender line and the subject line increases the open rate.  JupiterResearch found that including the company name in the subject line increased open rates from 32 percent to 60 percent.
5.              Test several lines before a rollout.  Which subject line will perform best?  Your subscribers can tell you by their response.  Send each of your proposed subject lines to a few thousand subscribers who are a cross-section of your intended audience.  See which subject line works best.
6.              Send the e-mail to yourself.  Once you have decided on a subject line, before you roll it out, send it to yourself.  Does it grab your attention?  Does it stand out from the other messages in your inbox?  Does it look interesting and worth opening?  Does it look like spam?  Many times an e-mail in the inbox looks quite different from an e-mail on the drawing board.
7.              Avoid using the same subject repeatedly.  Just because a subject line worked well yesterday doesn't mean it will work well today.  You can rarely repeat the same subject line with the same audience and get the same good results week after week.  Since e-mails often stay in subscribers' inboxes for several days, using the same subject line in two different e-mails will get them both deleted faster than if they had had different subject lines.          
If your competitors notice you're using the same subject line repeatedly, they'll conclude it is successful and copy it.  At that point, you'll be competing against your own winning technique. 
8.              8.   Avoid certain words.  Never put the subject lines in all capital letters, and never use exclamation marks.  Free is OK in a subject line, as long as it isn't the first word or capitalized.  Most consumers will respond well to free, as long as you are truthful and avoid looking like spam.  Spam words like duty-free and sex are out, of course.  But there are words that aren't on the spam list that may also kill your subject line response, such as help, percent off, and reminder.
In addition to these guidelines, keep in mind that the space available for subject lines varies greatly among ISPs and e-mail clients, from 45 to 80 spaces.  But that doesn't mean you should use all the space available.
How long should your subject lines be?  A MailerMailer study showed that open rates and clicks varied by subject-line length.  The study of 300 million e-mails sent in 3,200 permission-based campaigns showed that subject lines of 35 spaces or fewer were opened 20.1 percent of the time, while those with subjects of more than 35 spaces had open rates of only 15.28 percent.  This means that you can increase your open rate by 31.6 percent by chopping your subject lines to 35 spaces or less.

How to Write Compelling E-mails
To write compelling e-mails, you must start with a plan for what you are trying to accomplish with the message.  What do you want readers to do? 
Do you want them to download something?  Buy something?  Sign up for something?  Whatever it is, it should be only one thing. 
One study showed that e-mails with multiple action items had much lower click-through rates than those with single actions.  One action item yielded a 56 percent click-through rate.  Two items yielded a 37 percent click-through rate, three yielded less than 5 percent, and four yielded a mere 1.4 percent.  If you have two things you want readers to do, send two different e-mails — and space them a couple of days apart.
Before you begin, imagine who your readers will be.  Picture them reading your e-mail.  Try to imagine what is going on in their minds.
One question readers ask is, "Who is this person writing to me?"  You can use yourself for the e-mail author or create a persona.  The writer should be a person, such as the director of marketing, a product manager, or the CEO.
Give your reader a sense of who you are as a person.  Don't talk like a know-it-all; talk like a user or a developer.  Tell readers that you have tried the product or service yourself and found that it works for you.  Or tell them what you did to develop the product so people would find it useful.
Most e-mails should be conversational.  Even for a business audience, don't be too formal.  The most successful e-mails are written like a conversation between two people, one on one.  Here's a quick summary:

·                  Use short sentences; the shorter the better.
·                  Use a familiar word rather than rare words, concrete terms rather than abstract ones, short words rather than long ones, and single words rather than several ones.
·                  Use verbs; they give life to a sentence.  Use the active voice rather than the passive or subjunctive.
·                  Be careful with adjectives.  For example, instead of saying "a large, impressive house," simply say "a mansion."
Once you have written your copy, read it out loud to yourself.  Many times you will find that what seemed good on paper doesn't read well out loud.  It should, so change it.
One way to create interest is to invite the reader to send in articles, questions, or comments to be included in future e-mails.  Lots of people like to see their name published.  You can make it possible and generate interest in your e-mails at the same time.  To do this, give readers a subject to write about.  For instance, if there was recently a conference or industry event, ask readers to write a session summary and send it to you.
Another way to stir up interest is to include a poll or survey in every newsletter, using multiple-choice questions.  The topic could be anything of interest to your readers.  Give the results in the next e-mail.  Subscribers will want to read the next e-mail to see how their responses compared to everyone else's.
The best e-mails are filled with dynamic, database-driven customer preferences.  They have customized subject lines, greetings, offers, or special images inside the e-mail.  They strike a responsive chord in readers that helps them realize that you are speaking directly to them as individuals, not to the world in general.
To create dynamic content, you need demographic information about your subscribers, such as zip code, occupation, hobbies, age, household income, or spending habits, and you need to use that information to provide content that speaks to the reader's particular interests. 
It is a big mistake to have too many images in your e-mails.  Use a combination of images and text; not more than 60 percent of the e-mail should be images. 
One important rule for e-mails:  Never send attachments, including PDFs.  It creates two problems.  First, attachments usually appear suspicious to a spam filter.  And second, there is no way to track the action on an attached file.  You can't find out if readers opened your attachment or not. 
The best way to provide information is with a link in your e-mail to the file you want people to see.  With a link, you won't trigger any filters.  And because you'll house the file on your site, you will know how many opened your file and who they were.
Writing text for a mobile version of your e-mail is very different from writing text for the regular version of your e-mail.  A mobile device's screen is tiny — between two and four inches. 
When writing the mobile version of your message, visualize your readers.  What will they be doing while they read your text?  Riding in a cab, waiting for a plane, eating on a train, or being stuck at the wheel of their car in traffic?  They are probably operating with one hand, and their attention is somewhere else.  They will scan their inbox rapidly and skip most of it.
If you use tracking URLs, you will have to compress them to fit them on the small screen.  The messages must be short.  Long sentences force readers to scroll a lot, which can be frustrating.

E-mail marketing is so inexpensive that many retailers are seduced into using it too often.  It seems simple enough:  if you send e-mails weekly, then shift to daily, your sales are likely to increase.  Doesn't this prove that more is better?  Yes and no.  Here's why.
Relevance and frequency are related.  A relevant e-mail sent too often can lose its effectiveness over time.  In a study by Merkle, 66 percent of e-mail users listed excessive frequency as a reason to unsubscribe.  If you have a subscriber who might give you $2,000 a year for 10 years and you lose her within a few weeks through excessive e-mails, you have lost a lot of revenue — usually without even realizing it.
But the reverse doesn't necessarily hold true.  If you send e-mails very infrequently, your customers may forget about you and consider your e-mails as spam when they do arrive.
The take-away is this:  Make it easy for subscribers to tell you what they think, and listen to what they say and do.
To be sure you are doing things the right way and not losing your most valuable customers, consider some of the following tests.
In addition to an unsubscribe link, test inserting an "Are we sending you too many messages?" link.  When subscribers click this link, tell them how often you have been e-mailing them.  Then offer them the opportunity to reduce or increase mailing frequency or limit mailings to specific topics.
Another test to try is with unsubscribers; they hold valuable information for you.  Place a survey in the "you have unsubscribed" message to find out why they are leaving and what you could do to make your e-mails better.  Take what you learn very seriously.  Think about it, and act on it.

Transactional E-mails
Transactional e-mails are the most powerful e-mails you will ever send to your customers.  They have open rates of 70 to 90 percent, whereas promotional e‑mail's open rates hover around 13 percent.
There are an unlimited number of types of transactional e-mails.  Some include:

·                  Thank-you messages
·                  Order shipment
·                  Satisfaction surveys
·                  Important reminders
·                  Ticket confirmations
·                  Opt-in e-mail confirmations
·                  Welcome e-mails
·                  Service confirmation
Each message gives you a chance to build a strong relationship with your customers and to open the pathway to gaining more information, more loyalty, and further sales. 
Because this is a transactional e-mail, the message should start with the information about the transaction.  There should be no promotional material above the fold or above the transaction text.  The subject line should tell subscriber what the message contains, such as "Your order has shipped" or "Print your boarding pass."
Further down in the message, you can include some promotional material.  But never bury the transactional message beneath a lot of other copy.  It has to be at the top.
CAN-SPAM is one important reason for beginning your message with the transaction.  This law restricts what you can do in transactional e-mails.  But you can still get a lot of customer-relationship building into your e-mails.  There are really only two basic requirements, which are easy to meet:

·                  First, the subject line should clearly identify the message as transactional.  "Your forthcoming trip to San Jose" is clearly about a transaction.  "Great deals on sheets and pillows" is clearly not.
·                  Second, the beginning of the text should be about the transaction.  No problem.  Put the promotional material below the fold, and you are OK.
If your transaction is an introductory welcome, the message should include:

·                  A personalized greeting
·                  A warm welcome, explaining some of your products and services
·                  A link to a sample of the e-mails she will receive
·                  A link to your privacy policy
·                  An idea of your mailing frequency
·                  A link to a page on your site that is relevant to what she signed up for
·                  An opportunity to buy something else immediately
·                  A link to a preference page
·                  A link to a survey
The main body of the e-mail should always begin with the subscriber's name.  Never say "Dear Valued Customer" in a transactional e-mail.  In promotional messages you may only know the e-mail, so you can't personalize.  But all transactional e-mails can be personalized.  If you test, you will find that personalized messages produce more clicks and conversions than nonpersonalized ones.
Transaction messages should be sent within 10 seconds of the event that triggered the message.  Your customer has just made a purchase, and she is sitting at her computer waiting for you to send her something.  She is in a buying mood right now.  She may not be in a similar mood tomorrow
When you assemble the creative that illustrates your cross-sell products, use a template.  For example, put links to the administrative information across the top.  Then include a personal greeting and a message about the transaction.  Follow this with images of the next best product and a related product.  At the bottom, offer a limited-time coupon.
Products can be assembled by intuition — such as a belt, shoes, and coat to go with a dress — or by something more sophisticated based on analysis of similar customers' purchasing experiences.
However you do it, you need a lookup table that lists the image location for each item that you sell, along with the image location of its complementary products.  The images are automatically inserted into the lower half of any transaction message that mentions its complementary product.  The template has space for the other images with suitable wording, such as "Here's what other customers bought who ordered a Yellow Balau Wood Patio Bar Cart.  Click on any item to learn more."

Triggered E-mails
A triggered e-mail is sent because of something unique that is happening in the receiver's life that he may know about, such as his birthday, or may not know about, such as the cancellation of his flight.
To trigger an e-mail, you need information:

·                  Direct information comes from the customer in a preference form.
·                  Indirect information comes from examining the various purchases, Web visits, and transactions that reveal what the customer is thinking about.
It isn't as difficult as it might seem.  Using modern e-mail and database marketing techniques, you can develop information to create relevant triggers for e-mails the same way the grocer did:  by listening to the customer.  Marketers set their systems up to listen for Web visits, registration and preference forms, downloads, and transactions.  These events are stored in the subscriber's database record.
Capture a lot of customer events and study them.  You then develop business rules configured within the software that takes any event and turns it into a conversation, just as the airlines have done with flight departures.
Triggered e-mails get open rates of up to 90 percent, compared to promotional e-mails, whose open rates hover around 13 percent.
A welcome e-mail should be sent to a subscriber within seconds of the subscriber's clicking the "submit" button.  You can also send an e-mail before an event, such as an upcoming flight, a Webinar, live seminar, or other scheduled events. 
A birthday is usually an excellent trigger with a very high opening rate.  Many companies offer something free on the subscriber's birthday:  a dessert, 25 percent off, or another suitable gift that gets the recipient to come in to claim her gift. 
Other useful triggered e-mails are abandoned carts, store receipts, status-level changes, satisfaction surveys, catalog arrival, airline check-in, and gift reminders.
As a first step, have a brainstorming session to list events that would rate an e‑mail in subscribers' minds.  Next, figure out how you can easily capture the information needed and store it in your database to support the triggers.  Finally, develop business rules to scan the database nightly to yield the occasions for an automatic trigger.
Triggers are so personalized to individuals' lives that you can't possibly have time to create them one by one.  Set up the business rules, and they will go out automatically, day after day. 

Whether you are sending a triggered e-mail, a transactional e-mail, or a promotional e-mail, it should be interactive.  The more links you have, the more relevant your e-mails will be to your subscribers.
Interactivity refers to the degree to which a person can make choices within an e-mail.  These choices are based on the rules built into the e-mail. 
Interactivity involves two-way communications.  The communication may take the form of data, video, or audio.  Instead of remaining passive, the reader becomes an active participant.
Interactive e-mails get the reader doing something.  The process helps maintain reader interest and get reader input.  Using cookies, e-mails should be personalized and filled with content that, based on past behavior, readers find interesting.
A good interactive e-mail is short.  To be convincing to a reader, you do need a lot of content, but most of it should be on your Web site or a landing page.
Using links within an e-mail, you can let the reader:

·                  Download a report, whitepaper, or manual
·                  Forward the e-mail to a friend
·                  Reply to the e-mail
·                  Find a definition or background information on any subject in the e‑mail
·                  See and complete a form to order a product or to register for e-mails
·                  See a video, a photo, or an article on the subject
·                  Go to a Web site
·                  Take a quiz or a preference survey or vote on an issue
When a reader first opens the e-mail, she thinks, "Oh, this is short and easy to read.  I'll see what it says."  While reading the short e-mail, if she has questions or wants to know more, she clicks on a link, which takes her to a Web page with additional content.  In a good interactive e-mail, 90 percent of the total content is accessed by a link rather than actually in the e-mail. 
Links are the secret to interactivity.  They are a wonderful way to get the user actively involved in your e-mail.  Instead of just reading it, the reader is clicking on links.
The other reason for putting a lot of links in an e-mail is the direct relationship between clicks and sales.  The more recipients click on your e-mails, the more they end up converting and buying.  No one knows why, but it is a fact of life.  So fill your e-mails with interesting links and valuable, relevant content to encourage clicking.
When planning an interactive e-mail, ask yourself what you want the reader to do when he looks at your e-mail.  Then design the e-mail with this plan in mind.  When you have completed the e-mail design, read it as you expect your readers will do — to see if the finished product actually produces the results you want.

If you are going to run a successful e-mail marketing program, you must test.  Here are some rules that you can use to start off right.

1.              Use your best previous promotion as your control.  Use your best newsletter as your newsletter control.  Select your best welcome e-mail as a second control.  Find your winning transaction message as a third control.  In other words, for each type of campaign you send out, look for your best and try to beat it.
2.              Define what was best about the control e-mail.  Was it opens?  Clicks?  The lower rate of unsubscribes or the high conversions?  Be sure you have a concrete definition of best.
3.              Create test groups.  The people in your test groups should be representative of your entire customer base.  To define a test group, you need criteria, such as:
4.              Buyers vs. non-buyers
5.              Length of time as subscribers
6.              Source of the subscriber
7.              Demographics
1.              If you don't have any test groups, you can simply use an A/B split:  Send version A to half your e-mail file and version B to the other half — and keep track of which group got which version.  This is a good way to begin and should give you valid results.
2.              When you want to get more sophisticated, however, you will need test groups.  Why?  Suppose version B delivered a 4 percent conversion rate and version A delivered a 2 percent conversion rate.  Version B is so much better that you will want to use that version from now on. 
3.              But to test something else, you don't want to risk losing a lot of sales by restricting the number of people who get your best e-mail.  You will want to test your new ideas on only a small portion of your database.  Hence, use a small test group, and everyone else is your control.
8.              Only test one thing in each e-mail promotion.  The best test is the single-variable test. 
9.              Always test the subject line first.  This line is all that most people see before they delete your e-mail.  If it isn't good, most subscribers won't see anything else.  Create a random 10 percent of your file, dividing it into six equal segments.  Try one subject line on each segment.  Wait six hours.  Look at your open rates for each.  Then send to the remaining 90 percent of your file using the winning subject line.
10.          Test the other elements of the e-mail.  For example, test the offer.  One retailer found that an e-mail offering "$50 off" generated 170 percent more revenue than an e-mail offering the same amount of savings but with the wording "15% off."
11.          Don't expect amazing results every time.  If you are doing a lot of tests, many tests will fail to prove anything significant.  That's OK.  Be patient and try again.

Let's conclude with some final advice.  Here are 10 steps to improve the effectiveness of your e-mail marketing:

1.              Build the database.  If you lack a marketing database, the existing subscriber database has to be converted into a true marketing database, built on a relational platform.  Decide what information about each subscriber will be needed for the farming operation.  Demographics should be appended to all records that have postal addresses.
2.              Engage an ESP.  E-mail marketing is too important to the success of any enterprise to make it an in-house operation.  Most marketers outsource the entire e-mail creation and sending process to an e-mail service provider (ESP), giving the provider instructions as to who is the audience for the e-mails, what the content of each e-mail should be, what triggers will be used, and so on.  Other firms develop the content but outsource e-mail sending, using an ESP's software.  There are a dozen large, experienced ESPs out there reviewed and recommended by JupiterResearch and Forrester Research.  Consult these agencies, write a request for proposal, and started doing e-mail in a professional way.
3.              Automate as much as you can.  Your ESP should provide you with software that will automate most of your e-mail marketing program, leaving you free to do long-range planning and creative content.  All your triggers should be automated.  For example, as soon as a person subscribes, a series of e-mails should go out automatically:  confirmation e-mail, welcome e-mail, and the start of the promotional e-mails.  There should be automated messages for abandoned shopping carts, subscribers who haven't opened recently, birthday greetings, customers reaching status levels, anniversary of gift purchases, and more.
4.              Use interactivity.  Every e-mail should be an adventure.  Have a live agent available for text chat through every e-mail sent to subscribers.  Also include a search box that enables subscribers to look up everything they might want to know about from any e-mail they receive.
5.              Test constantly.  Every e-mail campaign should have at least one test built into it.  You can test subject lines, arrangement of offers above and below the fold, contests, incentives for product reviews, and so on.  The most important part of your testing should be a scheduled review every month of test results.  The review should answer these questions:  What changes in our e-mail program will we make based on what we have learned from tests in the last month?  And what new tests will we conduct in each campaign during the next month?
6.              Regularly review e-mail frequency.  Are subscribers happy with their current frequency?  Ask them what they want.  Unsubscribing buyers should be queried to determine what would have induced them to remain as subscribers.
7.              Review competitive e-mails monthly.  Staff members should subscribe to e-mails from all the competition.  Your goal is to be totally informed about what is going on in the e-mail world.
8.              Select the best e-mails as controls.  For each type of message, determine your best previous message, with best defined by such measures as opens, clicks, and conversions.  These are your controls.  Provide recognition for any staff member who can devise an e-mail that beats the control by a significant percentage.
9.              Set up subscriber controls.  Always have a group of subscribers that doesn't get your latest new idea, so you can determine whether the new idea really is working and how much better (or worse) it is.  Someone needs to be in charge of selecting the controls and making them available on a regular basis. 
10.          Run a monthly set of reports.  Have a monthly review to determine changes needed in your e-mail program as a result of the tests and the success of your previous programs.
Opens, clicks, and sales from e-mails based on hunting techniques are getting lower each year.  Farming, rather than hunting, is the solution.  These 10 steps will enable your business to make the transition to successful e-mail marketing.
About the Authors
Arthur Middletown Hughes is founder of The Database Marketing Institute, Ltd. and Senior Strategist for e-Dialog. He has been designing and maintaining marketing databases for Fortune 500 companies and others for more than twenty years. His database clients have included catalogers, retailers, restaurants, telephone companies, insurance, banks, pharmaceuticals, package goods, software and computer manufacturers, resorts, hotels, automobiles, and nonprofit fund-raisers.
He is the author of The Complete Database Marketer, 2nd Ed. (Mc-Graw Hill 1996); Strategic Database Marketing 3rd Ed. (McGraw Hill 2006); The Customer Loyalty Solution(McGraw Hill 2003); and Customer Churn Reduction and Retention for Telecoms (Racom, 2008). His articles appear regularly in leading industry publications. He is on the editorial board of The International Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications.

Arthur Sweetser is CMO of Evergage, a provider of real-time behavior-based web personalization.  Prior to this he was CMO of e-Dialog, where he guided the company from $7 to $90 million in revenues, grew the global client base by 300%, and achieved consistent rankings as the top e-mail service provider by Forrester Research. He has a long history of successful direct marketing. His credits include work with Converse Athletic Shoe (international markets); Ogilvy & Mather (Chicago), where he managed Sears, Wagner Spray, BOSCH, and American Express; Cabot Advertising (Boston), where he led the team for NYNEX; Hill, Holliday; and S&H greenpoints (SVP of Marketing).
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