Every month, about 1,700 clients, and associates of Tri-Lite Builders receive a short, friendly e-letter from the Chandler, Ariz., company.

It typically includes company news, a photo, a tip (about property setbacks, for instance), and a brief summary of Tri-Lite's credentials and contact info.

The e-letter is “very effective,” co-owner Linda Minde says. A “huge spike” in traffic always follows on its Web site, and she receives 30 to 40 e-mail messages of thanks or congratulations.

Tri-Lite's e-letter is a good example of what E-mail Insider contributor Robb Wilson calls a “habit-forming” commercial e-mail message, which possess these five attributes:

  • The message design is consistent, regardless of who sends it. Tri-Lite's e-letter uses the same one-page design every month.
  • The message appears at the same time every time. Tri-Lite's letter usually mails on Tuesday nights so recipients see it first thing Wednesday. “But we're flexible, if we have something great to share,” Minde says.
  • The sender line is always the same. Tri-Lite's “From” line has the familiar name of Linda Minde, although her marketing company actually sends it.
  • The subject line includes the e-mail program's name and indicates how often it comes. Tri-Lite's subject line is always “A message from Tri-Lite Builders” and could easily be amended to note its frequency.
  • The content is highly relevant or personalized and becomes a familiar experience. One recipient recently told Minde that most of his e-mail goes directly into a spam folder. “But I read yours,” he said, because it's brief, informative, and relevant.