B-to-B marketers know all too well that their e-mail open rates are on the decline. The problem, at least in part, says Jay Schwedelson, corporate vice president of Boca Raton, Fla.-based direct and interactive marketing services provider Worldata, is that e-mail clients such as Outlook 2000, Yahoo! and Gmail, increasingly are blocking HTML imagery and therefore virtually stripping marketers’ carefully designed e-mail campaigns of both message and impact. This particularly is worrisome for B-to-B marketers because many business professionals use a version of Outlook as their e-mail client—with the notable exception of medical, legal, accounting and consulting professionals, many of whom use personal domains for business purposes. Given these factors, how do you improve the odds that your e-mail will reach your target audience intact and have sufficient impact? Schwedelson, who presented at the 23rd Annual Conference for Catalog, Internet & Multichannel Merchants this past May, suggests B-to-B marketers employ the following tactics to overcome format issues and achieve better e-mail response rates:
• Omit major consumer domains—such as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo!, AOL, MSN and Comcast—prior to delivery when launching a prospect campaign. This will allow you to reach many professionals, while avoiding format issues associated with HTML blocking.
• Design creative that’s a hybrid of text and HTML, with links that are text-based. If your HTML images are blocked, at least your links will have a chance of being seen and clicked. Currently, hybrid e-mail campaigns that combine text with rich media are outperforming pure HTML efforts two to one, according to Schwedelson.
• Always include a text message at the top of your e-mail that gives instructions on how to view the message if format issues occur.
• Include a date or offer expiration in your subject line for both prospect and retention offers. The latest trends indicate that including brand, offer and date in the subject line results in an average 24 percent increase in response, according to Schwedelson.