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By Dan Forootan

RISMEDIA, Nov. 12, 2008-(e+MC)-E-mail marketers know the game’s over when, no matter how legitimate their e-mail messages may be, recipients hit the spam button. But consider recipients’ options: Hit delete? That’s like shooing away a fly – it’ll be back. Or, even worse, should they use an unsubscribe link? That might let the senders know they’ve reached a valid e-mail address.

E-mail marketers only have one chance to reach their customers or prospects with their messages. Here are 10 reliable steps that can help your survival rate at that critical moment: advertisement

1. Never send to anyone who didn’t give you explicit consent. Recipients are now conditioned to use the spam button as a way of disposing of unwanted and unknown e-mail messages.

2. Don’t send to old addresses that have been sitting idle in some database. This is like going up to an adult on the street, telling him you were his preschool teacher and asking him if he remembers you.

3. Send regularly. Don’t wait too long between messages, but don’t send too frequently, either. Remember, the key is to have the recipient recognize and appreciate your message.

4. Clearly identify yourself in the from field. Using your company or brand gets your message recognized, and hopefully opened.

5. The subject line needs to truly represent the message content. The subject line shouldn’t try to trick the recipient into opening the message. Use the subject line in tandem with the from field to build brand awareness and highlight the value of the message content.

6. Add a couple of sentences to the top of your content. This lets recipients know why they’re receiving your message and where the unsubscribe link is. The “click here if you have trouble viewing this message” and the “please add our from address to your address book” are great for people who know why they’re receiving your message and want to receive it. But what about those who don’t?

7. Make sure the message content looks professional. Also, make sure it’s engaging, offers value and isn’t too long.

8. The unsubscribe link needs to be easy to find. It also must be easy to use – to get to it, visitors should only have to click two times at the most.

9. Move the unsubscribe link to the top of your content. This helps reduce complaints, especially when you’re sending to new list members.

10. Honor all unsubscribe requests. Nothing gets a complaint faster than sending an e-mail to someone who’s previously unsubscribed from one of your lists.

Dan Forootan is founder and president of Sacramento, Calif.-based EZ Publishing, a technology and Internet marketing services firm. He’s also president and CEO of StreamSend, an e-mail marketing solutions provider, also located in Sacramento, Calif., that was created by EZ Publishing. Reach Dan at