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Friday, April 30, 2010

If your primary use for mass emails is to reach your whole list with communications such as letters from the Executive Director, press releases and simple event announcements, you likely won’t need a lot of complex features. But any email campaign can benefit from a few standard features that support your workflow, professional image and provide information about reader response.

List Management Features

  • Basic List Management. Don’t underestimate the task of adding new constituents to your email list and keeping everything up-to-date. Be sure to check out how easy it is to import a list, merge it with your existing list, and eliminate duplicate email addresses. Look at tools that allow you to store and manage the lists online, so you don’t have to import a list for each mailing. Many systems also offer automatic bounce handling, so as to remove bad email addresses after a certain number of bounces, for instance.
  • Website Integration. The ability to integrate opt-in signup and unsubscribe forms from your website to your email database can be very helpful – these forms grow your list organically, save you a great deal of time and ensure that your list is made up of those that truly want to receive your communications.

Administration Features

  • Clone/Duplicate Emails. The ability to duplicate a number of emails from one you have already set up seems like a minor feature, but can be very useful for sending slightly different versions of an email to a number of different segments.
  • Campaign Based/Consecutive Send Workflow. Many effective email campaigns include follow-up emails based on the supporters previous responses (or lack of response), such as a “last chance to participate” email to those who have not yet taken action. If this is part of your strategy, look for tools that allow you to define email recipients based on their response to previous emails, or even systems that support setting up multiple conditional or sequential emails at one time.

Message Building Features

  • Design Customization. The ability to control the design of your email varies widely from tool to tool. Consider whether the email template, web forms, and even items such as your “from” address are able to convey what you want to say about your organization.
  • WYSIWYG Content Editor. If you plan to send HTML emails, a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor lets your staff easily add and format the email text through a Word style administration area. This allows you to send out nicely formatted emails without special technical knowledge.

Testing Features

  • Basic Testing Workflow. Before sending that carefully crafted message to your list, you’ll need to test it to be sure it’s legible and functional. Emails should be sent to several accounts within your organization and test accounts at webmail services like Gmail and AOL) for proofreading, formatting and link checking. Check to see if the tools you are considering provide a failsafe, such as requiring message approval before you can send to the full list.

Reporting Features

  • Basic Reporting. You’ll never know if your email strategy is working unless you can collect and view information about each blast. Your Email tool should provide, at a minimum, reports on how many emails were delivered and how many were opened. Ideally you will be able to track items like unsubscribe requests and list growth as well.

1 comments:

jack said...

It;s a very common things that every email marketer do not follow.
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