June 12, 2002, 12:00 AM

The dos and don’ts of retail e-mail marketing

Tight subject lines, recipient’s name in line, brand names mentioned in subject line and body of message all boost response rates, says Worlddata/WebConnect.

E-mail has become a huge marketing channel for most retailers. But many are still learning the basics of how to get consumers to open messages, Jay Schwedelson, vice president of Worlddata/WebConnect, an e-mail list broker company, told attendees at the DMA`s Annual Catalog Conference in Chicago.

Schwedelson offered the following tips:

Do`s:
--The subject line is the most important line of an e-mail because it is what the customer sees first. "Many retailers spend all this time on the e-mail copy and just slap on a subject, when it should be the other way around," says Schwedelson.
--Identify the company so consumers know where the message is coming from.
--Keep the subject line to 40 characters or fewer.
--Repeat credible brand names in the subject line and again in the e-mail body.
--Personalize the subject line with a first name. Schwedelson says 90% of tests which include a recipient`s name have increased response rates.

Schwedelson says retail marketers should avoid anything in their e-mail subject lines that look like spam. Avoid all caps (SUPERSAVER), the fake reply (RE: How are you?), anything in quotation marks ("Guaranteed") and the line Important Message!

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