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updated: 11/11/2013 5:12 AM

Name in the 'from line' matters in email marketing

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By Jim Kendall

The subject line isn't what gets your email opened. The from line matters more -- assuming that your email list is properly put together, says Norbert Barszczewski.

Properly put together means having a permission-based email list, one made up of people who have agreed when you've asked permission to send them emails. "Never purchase a list," says Barszczewski, president of JP NetQuest Inc., Northbrook. "The proper way (to build an email list) is to go after people you know -- clients, people who know and trust you and are willing to do business with you."

Matt Suffi, co-owner of Schaumburg's Wise Wash hand car wash, has "600-700 people" on his business' email list, built through a signup list in the business' lobby and on its website. That's fewer than he expected when Wise Wash began email marketing a year ago.

"Our goal is 2,000," Suffi says, "but building a list isn't as easy as I thought."

The list works, however. Used largely for periodic specials, especially detailing, the e-promotions bring in customers, the ultimate goal for most e-campaigns. "Ninety-five percent of the people who respond wouldn't come in without the email promotion," Suffi says.

The from line matters because recipients are more likely to respond positively -- open your email -- when they recognize the sending name.

The subject line, which Barszczewski says "should be short, to the point and include a benefit," still does matter.

Content is important, too. Generally, Barszczewski says, email content "should be 70 percent useful information and 30 percent about you. If you're an expert in something, share your expertise. Offer free advice -- and become the 'go-to guy' when people need help.

"If your email tells me how to prevent my pipes from bursting, you'll be the plumber I call when I need help."

Customer response -- at Wise Wash, for example -- is one way to judge the effectiveness of your email marketing, but there are other ways to know whether your message is connecting. Constant Contact, one of several e-list management firms, provides analytics that will tell you how many recipients opened your email; who they were; who clicked on links you included, and who forwarded your email to others. (Constant Contact likely is the best known e-list service; MailChimp and AWeber are two others people I know in the business use.)

If the data indicate a poor response, Barszczewski suggests some experimentation. "Split the list," he says. "If your list has 1,000 names, send your normal newsletter to half the list, but make some changes in the email you send to others." Content, Barszczewski says, could be shorter. More pictures might help.

"Don't overwhelm (recipients) with too much content," Barszczewski advises. "If you have a three-page article, use an executive summary with a link" to the complete text.

Too many emails also can be a problem. Depending on your business, emailing monthly, or quarterly, might be better than weekly.

• Jim Kendall welcomes comments at 2013 121 Marketing Resources Inc.

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