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Perspectives July 19, 2011

Forbes / How to Write Emails Your Customers Will Actually Read

The do's and don'ts of Email marketing

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Most businesses are dazed and confused about email marketing. I’m not talking about old school offline businesses. I’m talking about new school online start-ups. They’re completely dialed into social media marketing through Facebook and Twitter, but are under-investing in or misfiring on their email programs.

Private sale and local deals companies have figured out how to make some customers actually look forward to their email messages. These companies have built breakout businesses on the back of email. You don’t have to be in the private sale or local deals space to build your business through email. There are lessons other companies can learn from the email mechanics these companies have adopted and refined.

It’s not easy to stand out among the noise and clutter of the in-box. It’s like standing on the side of the highway in your underwear holding up a small, handwritten sign, hoping the cars whizzing past will read your message.

A few general industry stats to make you feel worse before you feel better: Eighty percent of commercial emails don’t get opened. Ninety-five percent of commercial emails don’t get clicked on. Half of all mailing list churn comes from people unsubscribing to a specific email sender–the other half comes from people periodically swapping out their email addresses. So if you think you’re standing still in building your email audience, the bad news is you’re actually shrinking.

In spite of the challenges, email is still one of the most effective ways to attract and build customer relationships. Most marketers will tell you that their email subscribers are more engaged and more likely to convert to transactions than their Facebook fans or Twitter followers. Billions of dollars of transactions and value flow through email. Read more on Forbes.

“The key question to ask yourself before hitting “send” on that customer email: Is what I have to say useful and new?”