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If you believe that you know everything there is to know about email marketing, then you also probably believe Al Gore invented the Internet.

Unfortunately, for most marketers, email marketing remains an educated guess predicated on seasonal and industry trends. What most marketers do not realize is that they have an opportunity to send out intelligent, high-performance email campaigns based on true consumer desires. All they have to do is take advantage of information that is readily available.

Online behavior is not limited to purchasing activity alone. To truly understand someone's buying potential, you need to see more than that. You need to know what they are looking at, what they are searching for, and what they have recommended to friends. These online activities are just a few of the behaviors that allow marketers to gain a better understanding of what consumers are truly interested in.

The bottom line is that if marketers are not sending the right offers to their customers, they are essentially leaving dollars on the table as well as alienating customers.

There are also hidden costs associated with poor email campaigns. It may cost just a few dollars to send an offer out to a few thousand recipients, but if marketers continue to send out irrelevant email campaigns, reliable customers will chose to opt out—and recouping those lost subscribers is costly.

That's why marketers must retain customers and not degrade their experience by sending them irrelevant emails. Marketers can take advantage of online-behavior intelligence and send out targeted email campaigns at a lower frequency with higher relevancy. When they do, everyone wins.

Here are six strategies that marketers can immediately adopt by using existing online customer information to create highly successful email campaigns.

1. You Know You Want It

When customers go online, they often place items in and out of virtual shopping carts as they pick and choose what they are going to buy. These abandoned items are still relevant to the consumer. Marketers should send monthly emails featuring these abandoned products in targeted email campaigns. These campaigns are especially successful if these items go on sale.

2. Thank You, Come Again!

Marketers can thank loyal customers who have sent merchandise information to their friends through a "your friend has received your email" note. In addition to personalizing the experience for customers, this is a great opportunity to introduce new offers or feature sales.

3. Two Peas in a Pod

If marketers know that 75 percent of customers who buy the cashmere sweater will also buy the denim jeans, it should be pretty obvious that everyone who purchases the sweater should also receive an offer for the jeans. A great way to do this without bombarding customers with emails is to include these cross-selling offers in "thank you for your order" notes.

4. No Wasted Space

The "under the fold" area of an email isn't a worthless space that customers don't bother to look at. Instead, it's the perfect opportunity for marketers to educate customers about a specific product or line of products—describe how to use them, and even how to accessorize them. Proper use of this space is a great way to personalize emails and reinforce brand awareness.

5. Big Spender

In some cases, a small percentage of customers are responsible for a large percentage of the profit margin. Marketers need to identify these groups and send each highly profitable customer segment targeted emails. If 10 percent of customers are responsible for 50 percent of sales, it would make sense that marketers treat them differently. Properly segmenting customers and sending them customized emails will increase sales and drive loyalty.

6. Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Marketers should never put customers in a position where they must choose between receiving emails at normal frequency or opting-out. Customers should always have the option of receiving emails at a lower frequency, or "opting down." This is especially important because once customers opt out, they are as good as gone... and recouping lost subscribers comes at a price. Allowing customers to receive a reduced number of emails will help retain reliable customers.

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By incorporating these tips into their campaigns, marketers can send out efficient and highly productive emails that their customers are actually interested in, increasing email ROI and revenue. All marketers need to do is take a closer look at a few online behaviors that are already available to them.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sheldon Gilbert is the founder and CEO of Proclivity Systems (www.proclivitysystems.com), a provider of solutions that give marketers and merchandisers insight and foresight into online consumer behavior.