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Email marketers must keep in mind that consumers who decide to opt in to the brand's email channel is likely a fan of that brand. Do not lose those consumers by making the following mistakes.

Information Overload

Is it really necessary to send four emails each week about the latest sale? Think long and hard about the number of touch points. Retailers are notorious for overdoing it.

I once asked the director of CRM at a national retailer why the brand is not more list-frequency conscious. His reply was that email is so cheap that for them no matter how much they burn their list it's still profitable to maintain such frequent contact with their entire database.

That might be so, but they programmed the majority of their consumers to shop with their weekly email coupon in hand, which has effectively devalued the brand and caused a high rate of consumers opt-outs.

Providing Irrelevant Content

I don't want to know about the latest widget out there unless I asked to know about it. The best way to avoid making the mistake of providing content irrelevant to the recipient is to design an option-heavy preference center that is simple to use. Adidas, Discover Card, Tide, and Nike do this correctly. They let their consumer dictate their experience.

Educating on the 101 Level

If you create content that is designed to educate consumers, speak to them on the 200 level or higher. Placing extremely basic knowledge branded with your logo provides a disservice to your audience and your brand.

Poor Creative

I have news for those who think all they have to do is create a graphics-heavy email... Email clients and ISPs can cause plenty of email-rendering headaches. Most recipients by default have images blocked until they add your email address to their address book or allow images from your DNS. If all you have in your email is an image with alt tags, then you are greatly limiting yourself.

The key is to design a template that uses the right cell colors with the right text-to-images ratio (60% image, 40% text) in the right places.

The preview pane is roughly about 350 pixels, depending on email client. Make sure to have text in the first 350 pixels of the creative, starting from the top. Consumers will then easily recognize the emails you send, whether images are blocked or not. Plus, they'll be able to read your content in all email clients at all times.

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Now that we covered some crucial components to the experience you provide, let's go over two other variables that no email marketing program should overlook.

Deliverability

Deliverability can be at times a full-time job for your email service provider or in-house provider.

The industry generally considers the following ISPs as together accounting for a very high percentage of the total number of consumer email boxes: Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, and AOL. Clearly, if you are being flagged by one of them, your delivery rates can suffer badly.

You have to keep in mind that the first priority of the ISPs is to protect consumers from spam, which outnumbers legitimate opt-in email 100 to 1. ISPs' anti-spam efforts are secret sauce for good reason: They don't want spammers to know how they work.

To prevent delivery problems, use domain name keys, avoid using spammy words that have double meanings and build a good reputation for you DNS by keeping your list clean.

Monitor Analytics

All good email platforms are going to provide strong performance reporting. Keep a watchful eye on them. Also, try to get a hold of benchmark reports provided by firms such as Forrester and email service providers, to gauge how you are doing compared with the competition.

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If you keep in mind the points raised in this article, you can feel confident that you will improve your ROI while providing an engaging experience for consumers that truly distinguishes your brand from its competitors.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Evan Blittner is online marketing manager at CENTURY 21 Real Estate LLC (www.century21.com) and works on interactive marketing on the national level.