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This story appears in the July 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Want your e-mail marketing messages to jump out of the inbox? Then try using rich e-mail. Featuring streaming video and audio, these minimovies are inspiring customers everywhere to click and watch.

"Our e-mails are 30-second commercials," explains Clelland Green, founder of America's Choice Health Plan, based in Philadelphia. "They're combinations of music and Flash presentations." Are the glitzy ads more effective? "We began using streaming e-mail last fall and had a 23 percent read rate; that's 6 to 8 times greater than a direct-mail campaign," says Green, 38. "Ten to 20 percent of those customers are [active customers], and our sales grew 78 percent from December to January."

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