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The 5 Golden Rules of E-mail and Branding

October 24, 2008 By Nicholas Einstein
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E-marketers have always counted on the superior value of the e-mail channel as a direct response vehicle and as an effective tool for managing customer relationships — and for good reason. Inbox advertising has long been one of the top performers in the direct marketing mix, boasting a $45.06 return for every dollar invested, according to the Direct Marketing Association. Few e-marketers, however, fully realize the tremendous role targeted e-mail advertising can play in positively stewarding a brand by driving brand awareness and brand favorability.

Earlier this year, Dynamic Logic launched a study that examined the relationship between eHarmony's e-mail marketing efforts and its brand equity. The e-mail campaigns measured by the study resulted in significant increases in both brand awareness and favorability. While the online dating service is one of the first companies to publicly share the results of independent research related to the subject, all marketers interested in using e-mail to increase their brand equity should consider the following five golden rules to ensure that they too realize the value of e-mail as a branding channel.

1. Adopt an integrated marketing approach. E-mail campaigns integrated with other online and offline efforts often drive huge lifts in direct response and branding performance. Ensure that all your e-mails follow the same brand standard as your other marketing channels and that offers and messaging featured in other programs are echoed throughout your inbox advertising efforts.

2. Send e-mail creative that renders appropriately. Well-designed e-mails that feature relevant content above the fold drive increased engagement with the communication. Keep in mind recipients who may be reading your message in the preview pane or on their mobile devices, and design messages accordingly.

3. Leverage data intelligence. One of the tenets of good e-mail is relevance, and it's a key component of driving brand equity through the channel. Use data intelligence to drive segmentation and targeting strategies that ensure relevant messaging. When your message truly resonates with a recipient, your brand benefits.

4. Ensure an optimum message cadence. Sending too often is never a good thing, but as long as you are diligently following rule 3, you may not be sending often enough to fully take advantage of e-mail as a branding vehicle.

Test message cadence to determine how many messages your audience wants to receive from you, and don't be afraid of sending the same offer to the same recipient twice. The study referenced above found that brand awareness and favorability both improved when recipients were exposed to a campaign more than once.

5. Diligently test subject and from lines. The single biggest drivers of open rates are the from and subject lines, and they are the simplest to optimize. Set up some A/B splits and test like crazy. Once you've found a winning formula, stick to it and stay consistent. But continue to periodically test and ensure ongoing validity.

E-mail definitely is a superior direct marketing channel. But if you follow the rules listed above, you may find that e-mail also can become an integral component of positively stewarding your brand online.

Nicholas Einstein is the director of strategic and analytics services at Datran Media, an online marketing services firm based in New York. Reach him at neinstein@datranmedia.com.


 

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