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Basic Elements of Email Marketing

December 14, 2000 

Email have become an all-too-important component of marketing on the Internet. It is cheap. It is fast. And emails are everywhere. According to eMarketer, an e-commerce research company, 94 percent of all Internet users have emails. In 1999, marketers spent $97 million on email marketing, and are expected to reach $4.8 billion by 2004 (Forrester Research).

Email marketing has proven to be effective. Business 2.0 recently reported that permission-based marketing messages enjoy a response rate of 11.5 percent, compared to a mere 0.55 percent for banner click throughs. It is thus no wonder that email marketing has tremendously grown in the past year as the online marketing tool of choice for both the big dot-coms and the small online entrepreneurs

To ensure a successful email marketing campaign, here are six elements you need to consider.

1. Avoid spamming at all costs. Send emails only to people who requested for it. Never send out newsletters or product offers to people who did not opt-in to your list, no matter how attractive your offer may be or "targeted" the recipients may be. Forget the claim unscrupulous Internet marketers make on "targeted marketing" - that emails sent to a targeted audience is not spam. The rule is simple and clear: if the person did not agree to receive your emails, then it is spam.

2. Clarify your Privacy Policy. Trust is essential in creating stronger customer relationship on the Internet. When a visitor subscribes to your newsletter and gives his or her contact information and other pertinent details, the person assumes that his or her information will be used only in-house, never shared, sold or rented. Bolster the trust of the person by clearly articulating your policy. In the event that you share, sell or rent your email subscriber lists to third parties, state this clearly on the registration forms so the person can decide what kind of information he or she may be willing to provide.

3. Acknowledge the subscription of a user. It is important to send out an acknowledgement email to new subscribers. Some subscribers tend to forget what they subscribed to, and a few may even complain of spam upon receipt of your first newsletter or product offer. Double verification ensures that your subscriber really does want to receive your email messages. There are also a number of people who simply play on your subscription forms, and deliberately enter incorrect or non-existent email addresses.

Sending out an email to new subscribers will accomplish two objectives:

- to verify the correctness of the email provided, and - to clarify to the subscriber what he or she has subscribed to.

To help you maintain an efficient operation, you can automate the acknowledgement process by setting up an auto responder to your subscription email. An auto responder feature allows you to create a customized message that will automatically be generated and sent to your list member to let him or her know that you have received a message. You can start out your acknowledgement email as "Thank you for subscribing to our weekly newsletter." It would also be helpful if you could indicate instructions on how to unsubscribe from your list should the person change his or her mind.

4. Maintain a complete record of all subscriptions. Keep a record of all requests for subscription to your newsletter or product offerings, even years afterward. Having a record of their requests for subscription will protect you in case the person forgets about his or her subscription and complains. If the person sends you (or worse, your web host and ISP) an email complaining, "I never agreed to receive your emails," you can show the original registration. It would also be helpful if you could include the IP address and remote host information of all registrants, should the person complain that his or her email was misused. We had a subscriber who complained that he did not subscribe to our newsletter, but after showing him (and our ISPs) the original registration with the IP address and remote host, the person realized it was his wife who registered his email address.

5. Allow users to unsubscribe from your list. Recognize that people's needs and circumstances change. Your email newsletters, once useful to the subscriber, may no longer interest him or her. Or, maybe the person is receiving too many regular emails that he or she feels compelled to reduce the number of emails received. In every email newsletter you send out, be sure to include clear instructions on how to unsubscribe from your list. If the person wants to be taken off from your list, make it easy for him or her. Upon receipt of the request to unsubscribe, acknowledge the email and respond that you have removed the person's email from your list. Avoid giving the person the runaround. If not, you could wind up with a disgruntled person who could easily damage your reputation.

6. Respond promptly to email inquiries. The hallmark of good customer service on the Internet is the quick response time to email inquiries. Make sure that you respond to emails from your subscribers quickly to assure the person that you are taking care of his or her concerns.

Nach Maravilla, Power HomeBiz Guides

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