The daily digital data deluge leaves customers swimming in a sea of superfluous emails. Business and personal communications get priority for customers' attention, so marketing messages frequently go unread, often deleted without ever being opened. Even when customers do read marketing emails, the offers rarely motivate customers to take action.

However, there are ways to improve the success of marketing communications. In her recent book, Maximizing Lead Generation, Ruth P. Stevens highlights the dos and don'ts for developing targeted direct-response programs that encourage audiences to embrace the offers that grace their screen. By creating a hook that pushes customers to take even the smallest step forward, companies then generate leads they can follow up on, escalating the interaction to the next level and building a foundation for possible business in the future. But companies will never encourage the desired actions by spamming inboxes with irrelevant messages.