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Email averages a return on investment (ROI) of $40 for every $1 spent, far outstripping banner ads ($2) and keyword ads ($17). So it's no surprise that 67% of organizations plan to increase their email spend in 2012.

You can use those increased email marketing budgets to push your ROI higher by focusing on the following three areas.

1. Deliverability

Though it's long been discussed, email deliverability remains a critical issue. A recent Return Path report found that nearly one-in-five emails sent by commercial email senders never reaches the intended recipient's inbox (and may not even reach the spam folder!).

Therefore, the average campaign can enjoy a 25% increase in response. If you believe that emails that don't bounce are being delivered, you may not realize anything is wrong.

How to Do It

A lot goes into email deliverability. Deliverability experts can offer guidance for your specific program, but make sure you're covering the following basics:

  1. Reduce complaints. Subscribers report unwanted email as spam (or, worse, they send it to antispam institutions such as SpamCop), which damages the sender's reputation. So, make it clear at the time of subscription how often you'll email subscribers. Include a name that subscribers recognize in the sender field of your emails, and make it easy to unsubscribe. Do not require subscribers to provide you with a username and password, an email address, or a "mail us your request" note to unsubscribe. Allow them to unsubscribe via one click (because it's very easy for them to click the "spam" button as an alternative).
  2. Don't set off content filters. Though no longer the most important component of spam filtering, "spammy" words and coding errors still set off alarm bells. Many email service providers (ESPs) offer in-platform tools to check emails before hitting "send."
  3. Monitor your delivery with a seed list. Set up accounts on top domains and include those accounts in your lists for each campaign. Then, confirm your email messages reached the seed list inboxes so you know about problems as they arise.

2. Behavioral Targeting

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Eric Didier is CEO and co-founder of ividence, a standalone acquisition email ad exchange that uses behavioral targeting to deliver the right message to the right target.