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Pvbit. You may not be able to pronounce it, but you had better remember it. PVBIT stands for the five things that email marketing must have for a successful B2B or fundraising application.

1. Permission
2. Value
3. Brevity
4. Interactivity
5. Trackability

Permission: If you don't have permission to email people, you're intruding. Chances are they'll slam the door in your face. Sure, messages can be blasted out to any email address you can get your hands on. That's a technique many of the most annoying sellers of everything from herbal Viagra substitutes to home-equity loans use. It's called spam. And yes, if you throw enough of it against the wall some will stick. But it's about 99.9% more likely to anger customers and prospects than to bring home the bacon.

Value: Even if you have permission to send email to people, that email is less than likely to get read and acted upon if it doesn't contain real value. Newsletters had better have real news, interesting articles, and tips that will help recipients do a better job. Offers had better have something to offer. They need a hook. Is what you're offering new? Is the price great? Is time running out on it? And in the end, does the recipient care?

Brevity: We all know the expression short and sweet. In email marketing, it might be better said, "short is sweet." People want to get through their email quickly. If you send a message many screens long, they're likely to react the same way they would if you were the driver in front of them doing 20 in a 50 MPH zone. Expect to be passed by at the first opportunity and to receive the virtual equivalent of the universal rude gesture.

Interactivity: Boring! That one word describes too many email messages. Engaging is the word you're looking for. Nothing engages the recipient like the opportunity to do something. They have itchy button fingers. They want to pull the trigger on something. Give them links that can be clicked, and take them to a web page. Tease your recipients with a little info and a link they can click to get more. Provide one-question polls they can answer. You get the idea. Get their attention. Engage them. Lead them into taking an action.

Trackability: Okay, I know it's not a word you'll find in the dictionary, but not so long ago neither was email. Don't send out email the same way you would postal mail. Don't simply push it out and wait for somebody to contact you. One of the great benefits of smart email is your ability to track it. You can tell who opens it, when they open it, what links they click, what polls they answer, and how they answer them. Then you can save that data in a profile of each individual. If you don't understand the value of information like that, then I don't know why you're reading this article.

Permission, value, brevity, interactivity, and trackability. If your email marketing doesn't have them, don't waste your money.

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David Patterson is CEO of Tango Connect (, a marketing and communication firm specializing in permission-based email media, marketing, and fundraising for colleges and universities, not-for-profit organizations, and business applications.