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Start: Mark Evans

E-mail marketing booted to the sidelines Add to ...

These days, social-media marketing is all the rage as marketers try to figure out how to capitalize on the millions of people using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs.

In many respects, e-mail marketing has been shunted to the sidelines, despite the fact e-mail is still very much alive and well as a way for companies to effectively reach consumers.

To get a better idea of what's happening, I reached out to Jeff Porter, who heads up the partner program with Toronto-based Eloqua, which runs e-mail marketing campaigns for clients around the world.

The first and most obvious question was whether e-mail remains a viable tool given all the attention on social media, and the fact marketers are starting to devote more of their budgets to social media marketing.

Mr. Porter says e-mail marketing actually plays well with social media because responses to the campaigns start to taper off after about 48 hours. But thanks to things such as status updates, tweets, blogs and Facebook “likes,” he says e-mail marketers can make their campaigns last longer by simply embedding social-sharing tools into their e-mail campaigns.

So what separates successful e-mail campaigns from those quickly dismissed as spam?

One of the key considerations is relevance, which can be a challenge because what is relevant to one person may not be useful to someone else. Mr. Porter says the best marketers leverage both traditional tools to match interest to content such as industry, title and revenue, while also using people's online behaviour (or “digital footprint”) to get a better idea of their interests.

So, how do you actually get someone to open an e-mail from a marketer at a time when people are so busy, and strange items in an inbox tend to get deleted pretty quickly?

Mr. Porter says it comes down to testing things such as subject lines, and of course to credibility, which is established by determining the right mix of frequency, content and personalization.

Special to the Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is a principal with ME Consulting, a content and social media strategic and tactical consultancy that creates and delivers ‘stories' for companies looking to capture the attention of customers, bloggers, the media, business partners, employees and investors. Mark has worked with three start-ups – Blanketware, b5Media and PlanetEye – so he understands how they operate and what they need to do to be successful. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshUniversity and meshmarketing conferences .

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