Despite the fact that email marketing enjoys one of the highest ROIs in the world of marketing, recent research suggests that there is still far more room for improvement. In fact, data provided by eMarketer in its report, "E-Mail Marketing: How to Improve ROI," indicate 31 percent of CMOs say email and regular mail offer the greatest ROI -- better than events, PR, website interactive programs and advertising both online and offline.

Email is one of the most cost-effective marketing channels around these days. But with email volume in the United States alone expected to reach more than 2.6 trillion messages in 2007, email marketers must broaden their focus beyond single campaign ROI numbers towards creating campaigns that truly engage customers over the lifetime of their relationship.

First, it's important to recognize that in today's highly overflowing inbox, it's no longer sufficient to simply obtain permission. Customers must now not only sign up to receive emails from you, they must anticipate them. That's right. Your goal should be that customers get a little shiver of delight when they see your company or brand name in the "from" field. Consumer focus has shifted from the subject line to the from field, and studies now show half of all users open emails because of the sender. This change in behavior underscores the importance of developing what I call "Email Brand Value." Marketers' emphasis should move from one-time email success to building up the brand over a series of email campaigns that make customers actually anticipate hearing from you.

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