Guest writer Paul Hyman contributes this feature on the importance of e-mail marketing to generating business and engagement around our products. With 15 years of experience, Mr. Hyman is regularly featured in Gamasutra and Game Developer magazine, and runs , an e-marketing boutique. Reprinted with permission, originally on Casual Connect.

With rare exceptions, the e-marketing goals of game developers are typically to generate repeat business, create communities around their games, and drive traffic to their websites. Regular, consistent e-newsletters are one of the best tools to achieve such goals and following best practices is the foundation of e-newsletter success. Here are a couple of tips to make your e-marketing efforts as effective as possible.

TIP #1: Relevancy in Four Easy Steps
Relevancy is really the bottom line for all e-mail marketers. When information is appropriate and meaningful to the reader, it leads to higher open rates, more click-throughs, and (ultimately) a more loyal following. There are four easy steps for achieving relevancy:

1. Make sure you write about what your readers want to read! Do a Who cares test on your ideas to confirm that the content is helpful and educational to your readers and not just to you.

2. Make sure your database is populated with all the demographic and behavioral info you can find, and then build your e-mail strategy around this segmentation. For example, you may want to separate your customers, your prospects, and your industry referral sources into separate groups. Market specifically to each group with content that s relevant to them and you’ll get optimal results from each campaign.

3. Determine both the right frequency for your audience and when to deliver your message. A rare few may want to hear from you every day; others will enjoy hearing from you on a regular basis, (perhaps monthly); and some won t want an e-mail until you have something specific to offer. Know your audience and adjust your frequency accordingly.

4. Test and retest your creative. Try a variety of tactics. Intrigue and entertain them. Don’t ever let your message get boring!

TIP #2: Clean Up Your Act A Good Reputation Is Everything
You know the old saying: A reputation takes a lifetime to build and a moment to ruin. Observing best practices is key to establishing and protecting your e-mail reputation. One way to do this is to avoid changing your IP address, if you can. Spammers are famous for frequent IP shifts, and consequently, e-mails from IP addresses with no volume history are much more carefully scrutinized and controlled. In contrast, if you always use the same, unique IP address for your e-mail marketing, you should be able to ensure high deliverability even if you re mailing to a large database.
I also recommend that you monitor your reputation data directly or through your e-mail marketing provider. Check your complaint and hard-bounce rates and avoid sending e-mails to spam traps (email addresses created by ISPs which function solely as lures for unsolicited email). Be especially careful if you re planning to make changes to your e-mail program. Do limited test runs beforehand, specifically with the type of content or frequency of the proposed campaign. There are so many ways to establish and protect your reputation and even more to unknowingly ruin it. When in doubt, have a professional review your process.

Paul The Game Master Hyman has covered the video games industry for over 15 years; he currently writes for and Game Developer magazine, among others. As editor-in-chief of an e-marketing boutique he creates e-newsletters for such game-related companies as Ninja Kiwi, GameTap, FOG Studios, and Digital Artist Management. E-mail Paul at paul.hyman at