A 6 Point Checklist Of Do’s And Don’ts Regarding Internet Marketing Etiquette (written June, 2010)

Good standard business practice, common sense and common courtesy should prevail on the Internet, just as in any aspect of promoting your home based business, online or offline. Here’s a 6 point checklist of common etiquette practices you can use to see if you’re “doing the right thing” in your Internet Marketing.

Checklist #1) E-mailing properly – the most basic rule of etiquette that applies to email is: get permission! You need to get the recipients’ permission to send them email. When mailing an invitation or “sample” message for the first time at the very least you have to introduce your email with the reason you are sending it, why they were selected to receive it, and the promise to remove them from the emailing list upon request. Include “opt in” and “opt out” capabilities with clearly defined features in each email you send. And if someone does opt out, etiquette demands that you respect that decision and not email them again. And probably the most discussed – and most abused – rule of email etiquette is “No Spam!” Sending out mass emails to lists of people you’re not familiar with, have never done business with you or have never opted in to receive it is the biggest internet taboo now.

Checklist #2) Ezine connections – as with any email, an ezine (emailed newsletter) should also be permission-based, with detailed, clear and easy to execute instructions for opting out. Spam rules obviously apply as well. Be considerate of people’s time, space and bandwidth when designing your ezine. If it’s on the long side, send an ezine out less frequently, such as monthly; shorter ezines can be sent more frequently, such as weekly. Be sure to ask permission to send an ezine in html format, which takes up a lot of space. It’s better to send out a text version contained within the email message box (and not as an attachment) and allow readers to opt in for the html version.

Checklist #3) Using chat rooms, newsgroups, forums, & bulletin board services – use of online special interest discussion groups can be a very effective way to attract attention to your business or product, but etiquette demands that you follow the rules and only promote in a subtle and inoffensive way. Be genuine and participate in chat rooms, newsgroups and forums that are related to your business, product or service. Offer real advice based on your special knowledge or experience. Be polite, answer questions directly, and use traditional, polite introductions and language. When you post a message, make sure you add your “signature” (a “block” of preformatted contact info: your name, business name, address, phone, email, with a line inviting people to visit your website) at the end. This is a perfectly acceptable way to introduce your business to the group. Post regularly and in a professional manner and you’ll soon start getting questions about your company and attracting group members to your site.

Checklist #4) Posting banner ads, pop ups and pop unders – etiquette requires that you not clutter up your site with too many banner ads so as to offend visitors. It also says that banner advertisers should be relevant to the subject matter of the site. Placement should be limited to the top or bottom of the page, and not detract from the presentation of information. Message text should not be insulting or too enigmatic. Cleverness is OK to attract attention but the ad message should not be deceiving. It will reflect negatively on you and your company.

Checklist #5) Placing online classifieds – as with all information you present about your home based business, in online (and offline) classified ads, be truthful and direct, and provide enough contact information so that you can be reached and the ad reader feels confident you are “legit.” Etiquette suggests that you not try to cram every detail about your company or product into one ad but rather use it as a “teaser,” inviting visitors to your website for more information. Be descriptive enough to address a need or appeal to an emotion. And avoid using excessive abbreviations just to cut down on the per word rate. You may reduce your expense but readers might not understand your abbreviations.

Checklist #6) Exchanging links or banners – when requesting the exchange of links or banner placements with other websites, be fair. Etiquette demands that you reciprocate with placement of equal prominence and click tabulations of equal value. Understand the site you are approaching with link exchange requests and clearly show the promotional value of the proposed exchange. Be friendly and businesslike in your email suggesting the link swap.

The author of this article is Larry Costello, President of All-American Print & Mail, 2200 Wilson Blvd #102-57, Arlington, VA 22201.