emailmarbg2006_small.gif * * * * 4 star review
Email marketing may be out of fashion with all the talk of RSS, IMing and text messaging, but it’s as powerful and effective as ever. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that there are dozens of variables to consider now that email is a mature marketing technique.

So where do you start? With MarketingSherpa’s 2006 Email Marketing Guide, of course. This is a chart and stat-filled reference from which you can glean dozens of insights. More importantly, you can create an immediate To Do list to improve your results.

Why only four stars?

It’s almost too much to digest. The guide weighs in at 282 pages and includes 310 charts and maps. It’s based on data contributed by 1,927 email marketers as well as 25 additional studies. That said, this is a hugely useful guide. I recommend it highly.

Extracting 5 keys to success

1. Your most important metrics

2. What to test

3. Growing your list

4. Design & usability tips

5. Beyond email: what you need to know

1. Your most important metrics

Surprise. It’s not your open rate. Email clients are so good at blocking HTML these days, your opens may not be registering. (I.e. your readers may have “view images” turned off.) Focus instead on click-throughs and on your conversion rate. Look for patterns and long-term trends. And feel comforted in knowing that conversion rates (i.e. conversion to a direct sale) higher than 3% are rare.

2. What to test newest members of your email list. They will always be the most responsive.

3. Growing your list

Co-registration should be your by-word for 2006. If you haven’t tried this yet, you’re missing a signficant opportunity to increase the size of your email list. Co-reg simply means that I direct my new subscribers to a sign up link for other e-newsletters. And they do the same for me.

I’ve teamed up with a handful of other ezine publishers and have grown my list size by 17 percent over the past six months (from 15,000 to over 17,500 subscribers). I use a service called Co-Reg Complete which I highly recommend.

4. Design & Usability Tips

One of my favorite parts of the guide is the section on eyetracking. The latest studies show that visuals – graphic images – prompt your subscribers to pay closer attention to your words. The heat maps included in the guide show you just where readers’ eyes go as they peruse your HTML emails.

5. Beyond email: RSS, IM & Mobile

The verdict isn’t in on any of these new technologies as marketing channels. For example, adoption rates of text messaging have been slower in this country than in Europe or Japan. But peruse the last chapter (“Permission Marketing Beyond Email – RSS, IM & Mobile”) and get some fascinating stats on what’s to come: SPIM for one. (Instant Messaging spam).