Newspaper reporters and potential clients often request marketing or media kits to learn more about a company and its products or services. These kits typically include a letter to the recipient, brochures, testimonials or reviews, and a business card.
For a service industry, showing off the invisible in colorful brochures is a challenge; and for any industry, the marketing and/or media kit options are many. So how do you determine what to include to ensure that the kit is effective and gets a return on your investment? Should different kits address different audiences (media versus prospects)? What is your experience with kits on what works and what doesn't in terms of content and target audience?
Luckily, you don't need a media kit to share your question with 200,000 "MarketingProfs Today" readers, who are willing to lend a hand. Pose a marketing challenge and receive a complimentary copy of our book, A Marketer's Guide to e-Newsletter Publishing.
This Week's Dilemma
We are a small service-based business and most of us do multiple roles. Based on requests from customers and seeing what others do, I suggested we look into developing a marketing/media kit. I have done research, but it isn't clear what makes an effective kit and whether they should go to anyone else besides prospects. What are readers' experiences with kits?
Newsletters that bounce back
We provide helpful newsletters to our customers on how to make the most of the products they have purchased from us. Increasingly, our quarterly emails are received as spam and do not reach the customer. The reason I know this is happening is because I send the newsletter to myself, and in my own inbox it's recognized as spam. The hard and soft bounce numbers are increasing. We have looked into what constitutes an email as spam and have found many ways to reduce the problem. Even though we've taken some steps to prevent this problem, some of our newsletters continue to bounce back. How can we stop our emails from being perceived as spam, or is this beyond our control?
—Westin, Direct Marketing Manager
Summary of Advice Received
Publishers have come to accept that spam is a fact of the email business and legitimate emails will get filtered out. However, Westin, it doesn't mean we can't do anything about it. We can take steps to minimize this occurrence:
- Use HTML and text within the newsletter.
- Employ a spam-checking application.
- Monitor bounces.
1. Use HTML and text within the newsletter
We won't readdress the "HTML versus text newsletter" argument. When possible, offer both options. Alexandru Costin, president of InterAKT, recommends making sure both HTML and text content are in the newsletter. This is a technical issue, so verify with your newsletter's provider or software to see what can be done.
Some newsletters send a simple email indicating a new issue is online and provide a link to the issue. A short email is less likely to end up in the junk folder. The more options offered to readers, the more likely they'll receive your newsletter.
2. Employ a spam-checking application
We use a spam-checking application before sending out newsletters to check the spam rating. The higher the number, the more likely the newsletter is going into the garbage pile. Such applications usually point out the weak spots, so you can correct them to lower the score.
Geert De Laet, research and developer with LUON, says, "Before every campaign, use a spam check tool like the one on www.emailgarage.com, which reports on typical spam characteristics of your e-mail. Also check to make sure your broadcasting infrastructure isn't listed with one of the many blacklists (do this at www.dnsstuff.com)."
Rachel Schoenewald, customer contact coordinator with AutoSport Catalog, suggests setting up SpamAssassin with your mailserver admin's help:
Find out EXACTLY what is causing your email to be tagged as spam. SpamAssassin is free, but needs someone with admin knowledge to set it up on the mailserver. All the content tweaking in the world can't tell you if your headers are incorrect, if you've got bad coding in your HTML, or if you or your third party provider is doing something wrong.
Alexandru Costin also runs SpamAssasin on his servers. He says, "Before sending out the newsletter, we always check its content scores. Sometimes you observe too many HTML markups, or that you've used an unfortunate pair of words that looks like spam—and you are able to tune the newsletter content until its spam score is low."
3. Monitor bounces
Speaking from our own experiences, when one of us worked behind the scenes for a company that had multiple newsletters going out to over 100,000 readers, we watched the bounces. Some of these bounces were for readers who used a challenge/response application for verifying that there are humans behind the newsletter. So we processed those to reduce the number of bounces.
However, one user required this response EVERY time an email went out. We gave up on him. It wasn't worth the time to answer his email on a regular basis. Though challenge/response helps cut out spam, it also helps users lose many quality email newsletters, since most aren't manually managed.
Alexandru Costin uses this process: "We monitor the bounces. Twenty to 100 are usually SpamArrest—and we manually process those to prove that we are real people behind the newsletter, and we don't do spam."
Costin, who administers a newsletter to almost 50,000 registered users, also provides us with the best philosophy of all:
While we've followed some MarketingProfs' guidelines to write newsletters (thanks! :) ), we've come to the conclusion that sometimes our mails don't reach our clients—and we've taken measures to make sure we minimize bouncers.
Do the best you can to minimize your newsletter's travels to the spam folder by using HTML and text, checking its spam score and monitoring bounces.
You have a population of a decent-sized city with the expertise to offer advice on marketing challenges from 200,000 MarketingProfs readers, so ask away.