What’s your email marketing strategy?

So you’ve got a list of customers who want to receive email from you, and you have an idea of some of the things you’d like to send them, but you’re having trouble pinning down an overall strategy? You may find it beneficial to stop right now and decide upon your Email Value Proposition.

Email Value Proposition (EVP)

What is an EVP? Think about it as your email’s mission statement – Without a clear focus and value proposition, your email won’t hit your recipient’s “internal inbox.” People can manage only a limited number of regular email communications, so you need to give them clear reasons to open your emails every time.

Define your Email Value Proposition (EVP) much like you would a positioning statement and use it to drive your content, creative, frequency and segmentation strategies, as well as list-growth initiatives and future messaging.

You can use these fill-in-the-blank sentences to help build your EVP – just replace the items in [brackets].

First Sentence: Value of the Offering

For… [Target Customer] Who… [Statement of the Need or Opportunity] Our [Name of Email/Newsletter] contains…[Product/Services/Messaging Components] which provides… [Statement of Benefit]

(An example First Sentence: For frequent travelers who don’t have time to find cheap, easy lodging, Stay-n-Rest presents our Weekly Rest Email Newsletter. Every Sunday, subscribers will get an email with five coupons from regional hotels for various offers. This takes the guesswork out of “where should I stay?”, and empowers them to take control of their time and budget.)

Second Sentence: Positioning the Value

Unlike… [Primary Competitive Alternative] our product… [Statement of Primary Differentiator] because of our… [Proof that Benefits can be Delivered]

I can’t see images in emails!

So you’ve just gotten an HTML email in your inbox, and you’re all excited to open it – wait – this isn’t right! There are a lot of little red X boxes instead of images! Why is this happening?

Well, your email client (Outlook, Mail, Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.) might be automatically set to block images in emails.

In fact, Windows Live Mail, Gmail, Outlook 2003, Outlook 2007 and AOL all have images turned OFF by default.

So, how do you UN-block them?

Well, according to Microsoft’s website – here’s how you unblock them in Outlook

When you open an e-mail message in Microsoft Outlook Express on a computer that is running Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), the areas in the e-mail message that are supposed to contain images are blocked. These areas display a red X placeholder. Additionally, you are prompted with the following message just above the content window of the e-mail message:

Some pictures have been blocked to help prevent the sender from identifying your computer. Click here to download pictures.

This behavior occurs because of the new Block images and other external content in HTML e-mail security option. By default, this option is turned on in Outlook Express after you install Windows XP SP2.

This option helps you avoid viewing potentially offensive material, enables you to decide which images that you want to download, and helps reduce the junk e-mail messages that you receive. We recommend that you leave this option turn on and that you download images for trusted messages only. To do this, click the Infobar to download the images for each message. The Infobar is the banner that is near the top of a trusted e-mail message.

Manual steps to enable Internet images in Outlook Express
To manually work around this behavior, turn off the Block images and other external content in HTML e-mail option. To do this, follow these steps.

1. Click Start, point to Programs, and then click Outlook Express.
2. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Security tab.
3. Click to clear the Block images and other external content in HTML e-mail check box.
4. Click OK

You can also try adding the sender to your “safe senders” list.

As for other email clients, here are some suggestions on how you can un-block images –

Open the message and click the green box above the message that says “Always Display Images from (the sender’s address)”.

Windows Live Mail
Open the email; click “open message”; click “show content” at the top of the message.

Click the Mail menu, then click Mail Settings. Click the “Hide images & disable links in mail from unknown senders” box to clear it. Click the “Save” button.

Click “options” and go to the “Spam Protection” section. Click “continue” until you’re on the 3rd step of the process. If you’ve taken the above steps to designate the sender as not Spam, select the “Block images in messages that SpamGuard thinks are spam” option.

Originally published on the Absolute Blog.