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The phenomenon of eMarketing is, in essence, the age-old practice of direct marketing updated in modern dress. From the advent of the Sears catalog in 1893 to the blizzard of catalogs arriving in your mailbox today, direct marketing has proved to be a superior way to quickly and cost-effectively create a personal connection with customers, and garner immediate sales results. It also lends itself to greater measurability and testing in order to optimize results. Little wonder, then, that this tool has been universally regarded as one of the most effective forms of advertising.

Today, of course, digital delivery is redefining direct marketing. The advent of electronic forms of communication such as email and the Internet have given marketers new and even more cost-effective ways to become more focused and granular in their marketing efforts. And while some Internet marketing activities have failed to meet expectations--banner advertising, for example, while ubiquitous generally delivers disappointing response rates--more and more, marketers looking for the most effective way to reach customers online are turning to email. The Internet's most popular application, email has quickly become a communication standard, with both the number of email users and overall usage rates continuing to grow exponentially.

Email Marketing Best Practices

As with any other marketing campaign, careful planning and proven techniques are the best way to deploy the most effective campaigns and to realize the highest response rates. The key: putting the right offer in front of the right person at the right time.

Follow these common-sense and time-tested suggestions, and your campaign can produce tremendous results for new customer acquisition, customer loyalty and customer retention.

Segment Lists, Target Messages. Since prospects and customers are always more likely to respond to messages that match their interest sets, chop your database into smaller, segmented slices based on preferences and past behaviors, making your messages as relevant as possible to each group. Use historical data to apply what you know about the likes and dislikes of your target market segments, and develop your messages and offers to fit.

Personalize to the Max. Leverage the full power of your database to personalize email content to individual names, histories, likes and dislikes. In the world of direct emarketing, one size does not fit all, so use available tools to make your email as personal and as relevant to each person as possible.

Quality Over Quantity. Boost response rates by creating offers for unique products, useful information, compelling content, special pricing or gifts. Again, match the offer to the audience. Since every message in a customer's inbox requires time and attention, it's imperative to offer something of value, be it information, entertainment, or monetary. If you don't deliver, it's likely your customers will opt out of your mailing list.

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Mischelle Davis is Vice President, Marketing Communications, NewWorldIQ. Mischelle brings over 10 years of high-tech marketing experience to NewWorldIQ. She has held positions various product marketing and marketing communications positions at Qpass, Authentic8, Primus Knowledge Systems, Wall Data, Ivex Corp and Summit Software.