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There's a heap of advice around on email marketing; numerous top-rate articles and books on planning, crafting, sending and evaluating permission-based email promotions and newsletters.

Assuming you follow that advice, then you're mailing persuasive, timely, relevant offers to responsive audiences. Your copy, content and design are perfect; all the technical elements and links work, and your delivery and subscriber management infrastructure is foolproof.

Hurrah! The satisfaction of a job well done.

Well, almost. There's a "but. (There's always a "but").

Email marketing isn't just about "email". Of course it's important to ensure the right email gets into the hands of the right recipient. That's the core of email marketing practice. But focusing entirely on the email ignores some of the other components that need to complement the typical email campaign.

In particular, you should consider whether your organization and website are hindering or helping your email marketing efforts?

1. Colleagues and confederates

A successful mailing impacts other parts of the business. Nearly all email marketing aims to generate an action, either in the short- or long-term: a click, a registration, a purchase, whatever. That action has consequences for others.

The question you need to ask is are these "others" ready for your success? Or will they snatch disaster from the jaws of email victory? Let's examine some examples...

A large promotional mailing might lead to surges in customer service inquiries: A jump in website visits or huge interest in particular products and services may cause a spike in the associated customer service needs.

And the mailout itself will produce feedback and subscription management issues. Don't rely on automatic subscription features to necessarily work, or even be used.

Is customer service prepared for this increased load? Are they ready to deal with list subscription issues? Is anyone monitoring the email addresses published in your mail? Can they answer the likely product or service-related questions that people ask before, during and after purchasing the items you've promoted?

The surge in traffic and subsequent website activity (such as downloading white papers, running search scripts and the like) also adds to the burden on your web hosting.

Can the server and connection cope with the additional bandwidth and processing requirements? Or will slow download times, for example, simply frustrate those you've persuaded to click and act, leading to aborted registrations or orders?

A spike in demand for particular products or services also affects those responsible for their supply. Are there enough products in stock, and in all the variations required? Can fulfillment cope? Do you have the staff and resources to process inquiries or orders in a timely manner? Are there enough complementary products stocked, too?

When you plan a campaign, talk to all those who might be affected, and make sure they become contributors, not constraints, to its success.

2. Landing pages

If the purpose of your email marketing is to persuade readers to visit your website and take further action, then the transition from email to website needs to be as seamless as possible. Think of it like a relay race, where the customer is the baton.

When they click through to your site, readers should experience a continuation of the process you started with the email. Design, layout, copy and content should reflect and complement this email.

In most cases, then, you should send them to custom-built "landing" pages which match the needs of the email campaign. Sending readers to pre-existing pages (like the homepage) is rarely appropriate, since these are designed with a variety of objectives in mind and not specifically as a complement to your email efforts.

If you're inviting people to buy a product, send them directly to a product page. If you want them to download a white paper, send them to a download page. Make sure this landing page continues the "sales" process, of which the email was the first part.

Is the copy tuned to fit the message relayed in the email? Do the language, colors, style, and feel gel with those of the email? Have you reminded people why they've clicked? Have you highlighted the offer and encouraged them to complete the desired action (and made it clear how to do so)?

If your landing page isn't designed properly, then your successful email campaign will be like persuading hundreds of people to visit your store, only to find the doors locked.

The English poet John Donne (he of "never send to know for whom the bell tolls" fame) wrote that "no man is an island." Nor is any email campaign. Forget that and you may find the bell tolls for you.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Brownlow, Ph.D., is a writer, traveler, and footbal (soccer) fan (www.lostopinions.com).