Starting an e-mail program is one of the easiest ways to increase sales, customer satisfaction and brand recognition. A program is a regularly scheduled, reoccurring e-mail campaign, such as an e-newsletter or a weekly sale announcement. Program marketing differs from campaign marketing because campaign marketing occurs sporadically, on any topic that happens to arise. E-mail programs are effective in building a brand and sales because they establish constant, expected communications with recipients.

There are many factors that contribute to the success or failure of an e-mail marketing program. Data, Content, Style, Frequency/Timing, and Testing should all play critical roles in the formulation of your program strategy.


Customer data is the most important factor in any e-mail program. You can't make a sale or convince someone to subscribe to your communications if they are not interested in your topic or product. The best way to ensure that your audience is interested is to use your house database. Collect e-mail addresses from your customers, website visitors and sales prospects. Ask for e-mail addresses at every point of contact because those who have previously expressed an interest in your company will probably be the most open to receiving your message.

Renting lists from outside vendors is another way to increase database size, but rented lists are never as successful as your house database. In a recent study, Jupiter Communications found that only 14% of consumers were willing to receive information from companies they did not have a relationship with. Keep in mind that you will have a much higher opt-out rate when sending e-mail to a rented list, because these recipients have not specifically agreed to receive your message. Data captured by a third party must be trustworthy. It is your company image at stake when you send e-mail using third party lists.


A company is not limited to one program; rather, there are many different types of communications that can be transmitted via e-mail. Examine the kinds of information your organization has to deliver. Do recipients want weekly specials, updated product information or informative industry newsletters? Recipients will opt-in only if you provide valuable content, so be relevant.

It is easy to get a recipient to read your message once, but what convinces them to subscribe to regular communications? Here are a few keys to success:

  • Relevancy
  • Clear purpose and topic
  • Prominent offer
  • Concise writing
  • Apparent call to action
  • Use personalization and/or customized content
  • Use small, skim-able paragraphs, insert links for longer copy
  • Insert subscribe/unsubscribe links

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Michael Pridemore is CEO of Atlanta-based Socketware, makers of Accucast ( e-mail marketing software and hosted services. He can be reached at, or at (404) 815-1998