Utilizing a targeted online marketing campaign WILL be considerably cheaper (a cent or so per email contact) than other marketing alternatives, BUT will not be worth any expenditure if it does not generate sales leads. Below we have compiled several tips and tricks that can help you to get the most from your online marketing dollar.

Note: Fuze Digital Solutions does not offer campaign management software, but rather provides the systems infrastructure necessary to attract consumers to register online, allowing you to harvest their emails on a permission basis and to create relevant targeted lists of contacts. The targeted contact lists generated by Fuze are common tab delimited files that can be used with any campaign management solution that allows file imports.

  • Use the right online campaign management software

Using basic email with surrounding manual procedures for your online marketing just won't cut it. There are lots of different campaign management software packages available to choose from, but your selection should minimally contain the following components:

Opt-In: Somewhere you must allow your members or customers (consumers) to opt-in to receive your marketing-based emails. This can be done outside of your campaign management solution, but only consumers that have elected to "opt-in" should be included in email addresses imported into your campaign management software.

External File Import: Must be able to easily import a delimited file containing the email addresses and names of all consumers who have elected to "opt-in" to receive your emails. This is important since your consumer contact information will generally be captured in a system that is independent of your campaign management software.

Un-subscribes: Must enable your consumers to easily unsubscribe (within your marketing email) from receiving future emails and let you easily identify which consumers have un-subscribed.

Bounces: Must attempt to send the marketing email to the consumer at least 2-3 times before giving up and letting you know which consumer emails were not delivered.

Email Format: Minimally must allow your consumers to define if they prefer to receive emails in plain text or formatted HTML -- containing graphics and the like -- and automatically send the preferred format to the consumer. Preferably your campaign management software will send what is called multi-part mine email, which will try to send your consumers HTML formatted email and will automatically send a text-based format if the consumer's email will not accept the HTML format. Whenever possible you want to send HTML formatted emails since studies have consistently shown dramatically higher response rates to graphically interesting HTML emails over those response rates achieved using text-only emails. How many commercials have you seen in any media lately that only include text?! The caution here is to ensure that your email is not too graphically rich so that it will not load quickly using a modem connection.

Formatting Tools: Depending on your knowledge of HTML and creating emails that are formatted using HTML, you may want your campaign management solution to provide templates and a simple formatting tool that allows you to easily create graphically interesting emails.

Tracking if Email Opened: Must allow you to see if the email was opened by the consumer. Generally solutions that are available today at favorable pricing will allow you to see how many of your emails were opened, but not specifically which consumers opened them. It clearly would be beneficial to know specifically which consumers have opened emails, but the additional costs to have this feature will only be worth it if you plan to take additional action based on knowledge of a particular consumer's behavior, which is generally not the case.

Tracking What Links in Email Opened: Must allow you to see what links included in your email were actually opened by consumers. This feature has the same aspects discussed in the preceding paragraph regarding consumer identification.

  • Subject line to get their attention

Your email subject line is critical and must get your consumers' attention without being filtered by anti-spam software. Following these proven tips will help when writing your email subject line:

  • Should not be blank but should be less than 40 characters

  • Should not contain the words advertisement, free, order today, money back or ! and $ characters or be in all caps

  • Make it compelling, leave the reader wanting MORE with a teaser

  • Speak to the readers in their own terms and in a one-to-one style, keeping the text brief and specific

  • Avoid attachments (use links to your Web site in the email instead) since many email systems filter out email with attachments

  • Content is king

Your email content must include more than just great deals, specials, promos, etc. In fact, the best way to ensure that your email will be read and your reader will respond is to include value-added content in virtually every email promotion. Giving your email recipients information they can use will build credibility around your organization and its email efforts, ultimately improving your email campaign results.

An effective approach to market to your consumers online is to offer a free newsletter that includes links to relevant promotions, products and services on your Web site. Another method is to offer permission-based eAlerts that provide you with another method to promote your products and services and continually draw your consumers back into your Web channel.

  • Get to the right consumers

Effective targeted marketing is just that: targeted. Instead of mass emailing all your consumers, you should target your consumers based on what you are marketing and the buying propensities of your consumers. This can be done by: 1. Allowing your consumers to define their areas of interest, and/or 2. Deriving consumers' areas of interest based on things you can glean from their business relationship with you. More than just what business your consumers currently do with you, you really need to leverage information about their buying propensities that can be gleaned while they help themselves online or request assistance from any channel.

  • Test success rates and adjust

Online marketing allows you to quickly and cost-effectively test your marketing messaging with a subset of your consumers before releasing your general campaign. Wherever possible, you should take advantage of this to test out your subject line and links within your email. If during your test with a randomly selected subset of your consumers, you do not get the expected percentage opening your email, you need to refine your subject line and try again until you start producing the results you would expect. Anything over 10 percent open rate is generally considered to be good. Once you have determined an effective subject line, you need to use the same approach as was done with the subject line to refine your content and link placement until you achieve reasonable "click-through" rates on consumers clicking on your links. This iterative approach of refining your campaigns based on actual consumer response can significantly improve the success of your online marketing campaigns.

  • Timing is key

    Since most email campaigns are sent overnight, many people get into a routine of tossing all "questionable" emails that are in their inbox at the start of their day. To avoid this situation, the best time to send an email campaign is during business hours, preferably between 10 and 1 PST on Tuesday through Thursday.

  • Measure results

Determining the actual results of your online campaign comes down to reviewing how many consumers opened the email, how many consumers clicked on links, and ultimately, how many consumers requested more information about the products and services your were promoting. Actual sales landed are obviously important, but marketing campaigns are intended to generate leads and closing sales is related to things outside of the marketing campaign itself.

Our Fuze team hope that you found some value in this article and appreciate any feedback that you would like to share.